Some of those cheering me on in my writing endeavors have expressed curiosity about how the whole ‘writing-process’ works, not specifically the writing itself but how a writer goes about submitting stories to magazines and so on.
Given that I’m a fairly obliging fellow I figured I’d add some illumination to the process and describe, what to me has become a fairly automatic process, to those who haven’t sent stories out previously.
The Market for the Story
I submit stories under one of the following two scenarios:
1. Writing a story for a specific market. I do this more often now, in that my stories are geared towards a couple publications that I am trying to ‘get into’. This means I am reading more of the magazines than I normally would and trying to get a better understanding of what is being accepted.
2. Finding a home for an existing story. Basically if I wrote a story just because I “loved the idea” or I had intended the story for another publication that rejected it I have to search for an appropriate market for the story.
This second scenario is actually a bit trickier, even though I imagine it is the default method for most writers. In this case I use a service like www.duotrope.com to find markets that meet my criteria (filtering by genre, word count, payment and so on). Once I have a sublist of potential markets I then go and do some reading… basically grabbing sample copies or if the markets are online reading several of their stories. Then I decide if I think my story is a right fit for the market.
If it is, I submit it.
Even after 20+ years I am a fledgling writer… the vast majority of my stories are still sent back to me rejected. So basically I write, I edit, I submit and then I get a rejection at which point I look for a new home for the story. Currently I have about thirty stories out in circulation and between each phase of novel writing (I spend most of my writing time on novels now) I add 3-4 more stories to my inventory.
What happens when a story sells? This varies with each market but generally there’s an exchange of signatures on contracts and I write a brief bio to accompany the story. Sometimes there’s an edit phase (On Spec Magazine is especially good with providing a detailed edit and explaining why the edits happen). Sometimes there is not an edit phase and the story goes out the way I submitted it or the editor does a couple tweaks to the story without passing it back to me for approval. I haven’t ran into a problem with either scenario yet though I prefer having an edit phase.
Depending on the contract the rights to the stories I have had published revert to me (generally 6 months, sometimes a year). At this point I can try to sell the story a second time!
Few markets accept reprints and I’ve only had one actual reprint sale — A Thousand Faces reprinted my story ‘A Ragman’s Vow’ which originally appeared in On Spec Magazine. Douglas Smith has a great foreign market list which are useful places to send reprints.
I do try to add every story I’ve had published to AnthologyBuilder once the rights revert to me. And many of you have noticed that I have stories available in Kindle and Smashwords editions. This is basically me reprinting the stories myself, mostly as a learning exercise in case I ever start selling original content online (I am still undecided on this).
For those of you relatively new to this site, some links for you:
Latest Story in Print: ‘Stealing Death’ in Necrotic Tissue #13
Next story in Print: Should be ‘Summer Lover’ over at Shroud Magazine
My Amazon Reprints
My Smashwords Reprints