Hey so it’s the end of the year. Maybe I should do some end of the year blog post. Or something.
I know! To the stats-mobile!
In 2015, I made 95 short story submissions
Wait. Back that truck up. How many short stories? 95? Ninety-five? Seriously? Five away from a hundred? Who does that? That’s 1.8 story submissions a week. What have I done with my life? Are you happy now, Richard Matheson? Ray Bradbury? Oh my God, editors must hate me. I’ve just been flinging shit at the wall like a bored chimpanzee.
But whatever, it’s not all bad. Some of those stories sold. Out of the 95 submissions I made in 2015, I sold
A grand total of four.
To put that into percentages:
For cereal? I make 95 individual submissions and all I net is four acceptances and a pie chart that looks like Pacman burping? Oh god. Oh sweet Jesus on toast. That’s it. Time to pack it all in. Time to learn an employable skill, or at least something that could lend itself well to busking on the street for coins. Hang up the pen. Shut down the laptop. Give the notebooks a viking funeral. Maybe I will distract myself by seeing how much the Hamilton musical soundtrack is on Itunes. Gak, $19.99? Fine, back to submission stats.
Maybe it’s not as bad as all that. Out of those 95 subs, 15 are still pending, hopefully making their way to hallowed halls of publication on the wings of angels. So out of 80 submissions that I know the fates of, I’ve made 4 sales, which gives me a slightly better publication percentage:
Pacman now looks like he’s sighing instead of burping, so that’s an improvement.
Plus, in 2015 I sold some stories that I submitted back in 2014. Counting those two stories I sold six stories this year. So…there’s…that?
Sliiiightly better. I could doctor the charts some more by indulging in hypothetical and daydreams (like, what if all 15 of my pending submissions SOLD?!) but I won’t as I’ve already had enough pie this holiday season. Also, I think any more data would just be straying too far from the facts, and I want to share this basic data with other short stories writers, especially those new to submitting to short story markets. I think it’s important to know that this is a path you can and might walk down. I say ‘might’ because you may find yourself facing similar stats no matter how much you submit, but I also say ‘can’ because it is partly a choice. I’m not a masochist- obviously if I had my druthers, I’d druther a 100% success rate than a 4%. But I am also the kind of writer who writes short things very fast and long things very slowly. I am not one to sit on a story but sends it out right away (perhaps prematurely). I don’t stress too much about whether the story is a good fit for a market- I read the guidelines and if I think my story falls into their parameters I send it and and let the editors decide the rest.
I have many friends who are gifted writers and have much higher success rates than me. They submit just a handful of stories a year, carefully crafted pieces perfectly suited to the markets in question. And that is a perfectly valid path as well (it certainly doesn’t lead to posting pics of embarrassing pie graphs at the end of the year). But even with all the rejections I still prefer this path. I am somewhat perversely proud of the high rejection count I’ve racked up (in case you couldn’t tell). At this point I feel like a huge shaggy beast dwelling in the woods, the broken shafts of arrows and spears from past rejections lodged in my skin in such great amount that it looks like a second coat of fur.
But this is a new year. I can take off that coat and start anew with a fresh, unmarred skin. There are no stories yet because nothing has yet begun. No ripples on the water because the stone has yet to be cast. No footprints in the snow because I have yet to set out.
Very soon I will start the submission machine back up and once again start writing and sending my stories out into the world. But for now I just want to take a moment to enjoy the peace of a fresh start.Short stories, Writing