Friday, April 03, 2009

It All Adds Up

So this morning I opened my email to find a rejection from a publisher for a short story I'd submitted about a month and a half ago.

That's never fun.

However, whenever I get a rejection, I typically respond by looking at the story, any comments the editor might have made on the rejection, seriously consider constructive feedback (if provided) and potentially edit/modify the story accordingly if I feel it's necessary, then attempt to find another appropriate market to submit that story to.

I like to keep at least 5 or more stories "out there" in the slush piles of various markets at any given time.

Because, at the end of the day, rejection is part of the business (each market gets hundreds of submissions and can only accept a small handful - and you're not going to wow every single editor with every single story - like dating, there has to be a nice fit between the story's content/style and the editor's tastes/mood as well as whether or not the editor has already chosen a similar story for their magazine/anthology/project. It's a tricky hit and miss process (okay, it's more miss than hit, but THAT'S why a writer has to not stick their head in the sand and keep at it)

After all, you can't have a story accepted for publication with it just sitting there in your drawer.

So far, in the past couple of years I've been pretty good about keeping a small handful of stories in circulation. For a handful of yearsusing on novel-length projects, I had slipped on that mandate, and my "sales" of short fiction completely dropped off. Why? Because (and I'll repeat this in case it was missed) you CAN'T sell a story if you don't send it to an editor. Honestly. It's true. I've tried it. There are some great stories sitting in my drawer, and not once in the past 15 years has a story sold without me having to submit it anywhere. (Okay, it sort of happened once, but it was a fluke and isn't typical -- it's on par with winning the lottery) Unless you're a "name" author, you're not going to receive invitations from editors to send them a story.

No, at the end of the day, you have to submit to be accepted.

And speaking of submissions, I still occasionally submit to market that pay lesser amounts (IE, they pay less than professional rates). I know that many schools of thought among writers circles suggest this is a terrible idea. And for the most part, I agree with them. Giving your away for free or less than pro rates isn't usually a good idea. However, I'll sometimes do that because it's a reprint for which I've already made a decent amount and the story works so nicely in the project it would appear in, the editor is a friend and I'd like to support them or do them or their project a favour, or perhaps because the market is a great one, offering high exposure (the key is HIGH exposure, not just exposure - I can get ho-hum exposure by posting a story along with a naked picture on my blog) or is considered prestigious among enough circles that appearing in it is a good thing for a writer.

However, despite exceptions that I will make if all the stars are alligned, I don't often submit to no payment or "contributor copy only" markets much anymore. When I first started out, I certainly did -- and that was a good area to hone my craft and get some experience.

But one thing that has happened over the years, and continues to happen, is that I'll get cheques (or checks if you're not Canadian) in US funds for really small amounts, like $5.00 or $25.00 or something like that. It has happened less in the past 5 or so years due to options like PayPal where it's more cost effective for editors to pay small amounts via that option -- but I still do occasionally get smaller royalty payments in US funds.

For that reason, I have a US funds account with a Canadian Bank where I've been depositing these small cheques into for at least the past decade. Again, not so much lately as when I first started out. And though the amounts are small (the larger US cheques go straight into my regular Canadian account, auto-exchange, etc because I usually need them to do things like eat and buy clothes), they've added up over the years. And since the US account I have has no monthly fees just to keep the account open (a giant anomally among banking institutions) the account continues to grow with tiny interest deposits plus my occasional small deposit.

I've let it sit over the years, and it has added up to several hundred dollars. Not bad for small deposits. And I'm going to be taking advantage of it to help pay for attending Eerie-Con 11 in Niagara Falls, NY in a few weeks.

You see, attending conventions is yet another type of investment that a writer can make in their career. But that discussion is for another day.


Anonymous said...

Get that story back out there, Mark.

Mark Leslie said...

LOL - Thanks, Mike. I actually sent it back out this morning. :)