Composing a story, part 4 of ??

In Part 1, I described the first draft.

In Part 2, I described the revision process.

In Part 3, I described incorporating reader feedback and submission to Writers of the Future.

And now, in Part 4, I’ll give you some insight as to what happens next.

Last week, I received my rejection from Writers of the Future. And I say rejection, because I did not win any of the prizes this quarter. My story was awarded an Honorable Mention, and of course I’m happy with that. As I should be. I should not be content with it, though. I am still entering this contest because I still qualify for it, until the time when I have made enough qualifying sales to other markets. So, I keep going.

Now, I need to decide what to do with this story next. Obviously I’d like to get paid for it. There are two main options for that:

1) Self-publish on Amazon, as either a stand-alone story or part of a collection; or,

2) Submit to paying markets until one accepts and pays me for publication.

At this time I plan to pursue option (2), because I still want the connection and notoriety that comes with publication in F&SF, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, etc. They don’t give Hugo awards to self-publishers, after all. You’ve got to be part of the in-crowd for something like that, so I go door-to-door in the in-crowd neighborhood, hawking my wares, patiently accepting their rejections, and moving on to the next.

The following are 15 markets that this story would qualify for, in terms of what kind of story they usually publish, length they accept, and whether or not they’re even open for submissions right now:

  • Clarkesworld
  • New Myths
  • Uncanny
  • Phantaxis
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Abyss & Apex
  • Giganotosaurus
  • Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • Lightspeed
  • Apex
  • Strange Horizons
  • Leading Edge
  • T Gene Davis’ Speculative Blog
  • Outposts of Beyond

I’ve submitted to Clarkesworld. This is run by Neal Clarke, and he’s very quick on the turnaround. I should have an answer in 3 days or less. When the rejection from that comes in, I’ll go down the list. Or, if there’s an impending deadline for submissions, I’ll advance that listing in the hierarchy. If I didn’t realize it and market is closed when I get to it, I go to the next one. This happens often.

So, we’re in the thick of it now! Cross your fingers – there might be an acceptance in the works, sometime in the next couple of years. Yes, it sometimes really does take that long. I’ve got one story I’ve submitted 15 times since 2015, and it’s still getting rejections. But I like it, and I’d like more people to read it, so I keep submitting. I’ve heard anecdotes of authors selling stories on the 40th submission or later. I don’t know if I have that determination. Or is it foolishness? It’s up to me to eventually decide to pull a story from the rotation and just keep it to myself. Until then, we press on.

Composing a Story: Part 1 of X

Recently I have been writing a new story. Fantasy-horror, I suppose, though much more fantasy and not much horror. This is my first completed genre story in a while. I edited one in January, and have written some smaller things here and there, but this is the first time I’ve gotten to “THE END” of a story on my “potential topics” list in a while.

I won’t say much about it, but I will use a few posts here and in the next couple of months to chronicle how I’m going about crafting this story, how I’ll revise it, how I’ll plan to submit it. So: since I just completed the first draft and now plan to let it sit, I’ll just give a few thoughts right now.

Working title: Death at the Door

This will certainly be changed. “Death at the Door” was just a way for me to name it so I’d have something other than just a story number to remember it by.

Word count: About 11,400

So this is “long short story” or “short novella” length. But I like what has gone into it so far. My plan will be to cut at least 10% of the words for my next draft, then get some feedback, then rewrite as necessary. Sometimes this adds words, sometimes cuts. My expected final word count is somewhere between 9,500 and 13,000.

Writing days: 16

Started January 29, finished February 18. Skipped 6 days in the middle. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing. Most days I was working on something else.

Writing sessions: 17

I was aiming for 500+ words each day. Got that on Feb 13 with 2 sessions. Two days, on Feb 15 and 16, were 330 and 220 words. I was dealing with some other crap those days and didn’t make quota. All the rest were pretty solid. Today I made a big push for the end and got 1,900 words to finish it out.

Next Steps

I’ll let this sit for a while. I think in the rest of February I’m going to do a lot of writing practice (exercises, free writing, etc.) and also look back through some of my older, unsubmitted stories and see if I can pick out one to edit and finalize. Probably won’t come back to this until the end of March. After my revisions I’ll throw it out to a couple of review groups – maybe my Odyssey friends, maybe an online forum. Maybe by then I’ll have a local writers group who can critique for me.

After revision, I’ll start submitting. Because I would be thrilled to win, I’ve found myself submitting to Writers of the Future first for most of my stories recently. This one is no exception. But since I don’t expect to win, I’ll then send this on to Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, etc. Watch for updates later on this process.