I never thought it would happen to me. After all, I’m not afraid of rejection anymore. Form rejections don’t bother me a bit, and I don’t save even the personals, although last week I thanked an editor for the nicest rejection I’d ever received. I’ve actually come to be pretty smug about it.
But I’ve recently realized that one of the heresies of conquering the fear of rejection is that you stop submitting your work to paying markets at all. I mean, I’ve got some short stories I could submit–and I’ve even got standing invitations from several wonderful editors who like my work and have asked me to submit my next story to to them, but I can’t seem to do it.
Maybe it sounds warped, but while I adore these editors and their wonderful feedback on my stories, I’ve stopped submitting to them. They now represent my ‘good’ editors, and I’m afraid to send them anything less than my ‘best’. I tell myself that my stories all need tweaking, or they’re too short or too long. To my mind, they’re just not not good enough to send–not even to mentors or editors who have repeatedly asked me to send them my next story.
That’s pretty f**ked up.
I’m sitting on five stories that have cumulatively been sent to only three markets, one of which I always submit to because they send rejections in less than three days. Add to that, the list of stories that have already been sold and are now candidates for resale, audio, and international markets, and I’m being ridiculous. These stories should be out working, not lying around in on my hard drive, doing nothing.
So as I battled some serious back spasms this week, which seriously limited my writing time, I decided to implement my new year’s plan to stop self-rejecting. Lucky for me, there are plenty of other folks who have gone through this as well, so I’ll share what I’ve learned.
Don’t think about it. Put Your Words (and Stories) to Work
- Always have every story in a submission queue somewhere. Start at the top (the best paying and most prestigious markets) and keep going. There are always new paying markets being added. Don’t give up.
- Keep at least three stories out on submission at any one time. If you drop below three stories on submission, its time to write a new story or two. The more you submit, the better chance you have of making a sale. Stop thinking about WHO you’re submitting to, or what the market is, and you’ll start thinking of submissions as more of a numbers game–which it is.
- Submit to audio markets, like Podcastle and Starship Sofa–who says you your work can’t be sold to podcasts? There is NO downside to this, and an audio sale will help you reach a whole new audience.
- Make a list of reprint markets and start submitting your previously-sold stories to those. They pay less than first rights print markets, but there is absolutely NO downside to this.
- International Markets offer additional opportunities for sales and are an excellent way to expand your readership. Once again, there is no downside to submitting to foreign markets. Doug Smith‘s book, Playing the Short Game is a great place to learn about foreign markets.
- Write to a market. There are always kickstarters and anthology calls out for stories on a theme. If you haven’t anything that fits well enough to submit, write something new! Even if it doesn’t sell to the anthology, you’ll have something new to put into your submission queue lineup.
I updated my submission spreadsheet this week, and now have three stories out on submission in first rights print markets, one out to a reprint market, and two more out to audio markets–and I’m getting ready to send out some stories to overseas markets as well. It feels good.
The key point is to NOT think about whether your story is ‘good enough’. Yoda is right. Just do it.