I was chatting to some friends at my writing group a few nights ago and the subject of sending work out came up. Specifically, when to stop meddling with short stories and let them go (or in many cases, dig them out of the drawer and send them as they are). I thought I’d share my own take on it.
Now admittedly, I don’t always stick to this as rigidly as I should, but here is my general rules for sending off submissions:
1. If its been untouched a month, send it.
That’s pretty much it. If you find you have a completed piece – as in one that has a beginning, middle and end, ignoring revisions you think you might want to make – that’s been sitting in a ‘fiction’ folder for over a month, get it onto the submission train.
By this point in my shelving process, if I haven’t modified (or even opened) a file in a month, then I’ve moved on to bigger and better things and in all likelihood I won’t be coming back any time soon. That story ain’t doing me any good sat on my hard-drive, and by the time I do eventually come back to it I’ll most likely have developed my style in such a way (hopefully for the better) that I think it’s trash.
So, send send send.
I suppose I could add a few more rules (for once the rejections come back) :
2. If it gets a form rejection, send it.
3. If it gets a personal rejection, send it.
If it’s a form rejection, then you’ve got nothing to go on as to why it was rejected, and what you could do to change it. Probably bad fit, so send it out again.
If it’s a personal rejection, then the reviewers liked it enough to take time out of their day to write to you about it. Send it out again.
In the rare instance that you get a personal rejection back within a month of writing the piece, maybe you should take a look at the comments and think about how you might amend the piece. If you’ve got the will to look at it, re-write and forego your other projects, then great! But if, like me, you move on to a new story (admittedly I mostly write flash) every other week, then just keep those pieces going out.
For finding places to send, I make use of Duotrope, which I can’t recommend enough to anyone looking to get into the publishing game (hobbyist or not). I’ll probably do another post singing its praises later.
So, what d’yu reckon? Good system? What’s your submission method?