Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bad Luck

As you all know (I'm sure it's obvious from the title of my blog,) I primarily write science fiction.  However, I have not limited myself to this exclusively.  I have a mystery piece, a historical fiction piece, a zombie story, and a few mainstream stories in circulation.  I am also certain that I will write more deviations as time goes on.

Despite the fact that I like these stories-which-are-not-sci-fi, I dislike submitting them.  I am most familiar with the science fiction markets--of which there are quite a few--and I always feel out of my depth when trying to find a home for something else.  Some other genres like historical and, surprisingly, mystery, have fewer dedicated markets, meaning it's easy to run out of places to submit them (places that pay, anyway.)  I'm not sure which is worse, running out of markets quick or the random stabbing-out-in-the-dark submitting I do for my mainstream pieces.  There are just SO MANY general/mainstream/literary markets, and I'm not going to extensively read all of them to find homes for my few related pieces.  Suffice it to say, whenever one of my not-sci-fi stories comes back to me I give an internal groan before searching for markets.

I've had particularly bad luck with my historical fiction story.  I've been submitting it since April 2009 but it has only been to five markets.  The first gave a plain old rejection, the second said they liked it (but not enough to publish it,) and the third and fourth never responded.

Yep, two markets in a row gave me nothing but silence.  The first of these had it for about five months (2 longer than Duotrope's average) before I started querying.  After my queries went unanswered for a few weeks I gave it up and moved on.  The next market seemed promising and paid relatively well so I submitted there.  They claimed they would respond within a few months, but Duotrope put their average in the hundreds of days.  I forgot about that one for a while and focused on other things.

Eventually, though, I realized that they were taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  In addition, they had been "temporarily closed to submissions" for an insane length of time too (but not when I submitted--I know they were open when I submitted.)  Slowly the number of pending responses on Duotrope whittled down to two, and eventually, just me.  I queried them several times, to several places, and got nothing but stony silence.  Today I finally gave it up and resubmitted.

Certainly, other writers would have done this sooner.  If I had a greater amount of time to focus on writing-related activities, I might have given up sooner too.  The website is still active though, and they had a very slow response time anyway--so since this story has so few decent markets, I kept holding out hope.

I bring this up only because I realized, while getting this story ready to be resubbed, that between the two non-responsive markets, this story hasn't actually been considered by anyone since April of 2010.  That's almost two years ago.  How'd I end up with two sluggish, non-responsive markets in a row?

Well, this is (unfortunately) part of the writing industry.  Dust it off and send it back out.  That's exactly what I did.

Have you ever had something out for a long time only to have it be ignored?  How long have you let things linger for?

(I apologize if this post is disordered:  I can't get the theme song for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog, both written for Disney by They Might Be Giants, out of my head--thanks to a certain three-year-old who wanted to listen to them fifty times today.  It's hard to write anything with those earworms in my head.)

1 comment:

Ben Godby said...

I have the same problem. In September, I wrote a rash of surreal fiction. I consider it as "fantasy-ish," because I'm so used to "the fantastic," but it was obviously inappropriate for any of the markets I would normally submit to (the stories being variously about conscious houses and magic-wielding real estate agents, a woman who pulls a rocketship out of a house out of a canoe out of a suitcase, a boy who gets a scalp-slicing instead of a haircut, etc.). I can't say I really did "research:" I just found the most appropriate-looking markets on Duotrope and started submitting. I also started keeping a list of these markets, because, as you said, there are so many.

I'm also not surprised at the non-responsiveness of some markets, insofar as I've had rejections that have said, "too genre for us," even though, for me, the works weren't genre at all. This feels like the same kind of pretension as when Beneath Ceaseless Skies tells me my work isn't medieval enough - the editors are sort of saying, "You have not produced the kind of work we have already produced, and since we are not innovative, we don't like this." But really, the editors have a vision, and they're going to produce the magazine they want. Whaddya gonna do?

Don't get discouraged, and don't be afraid to submit heavily. I don't even read short fiction, and I have 37 short fiction submissions out right now. I don't give two hoots when a magazine says, "and if you only found us on Duotrope, you can **** off!" in their guidelines. I'm a writer, and writers submit where it seems most appropriate. My reading? That's my own business.

Good luck!