2021 Submissions: Halfway Checkpoint!

SHORT STORY SUBMISSIONS

Stats & Stuff


Story submissions to magazines, anthologies, and competitions

Number of Submissions: 23

Submissions Declined: 15

Submissions Accepted: 1

Still under review: 7


Wheeeeeee! We’re only halfway through the year, and I’ve already bested last year’s results (which, let’s face it, were pretty abysmal anyway). I expect to slow down on submissions towards the end of this year, but only because I hope to be extra-focused on handling edits and the publishing process for Season Two of The Jack Hansard Series.

The Accepted story on this list is a flash triptych called ‘Denizens of the Deep Dark’. It will feature in the upcoming July issue of Copperfield Review Quarterly.

Why are my submissions going better this year?

Having been at this for a while now, I’ve built up a larger catalogue of short stories to send out. This means I can have several different pieces out at the same time, rather than waiting for just one to be assessed by a publisher before being able to submit it again. I’m also quite proud of some of my newer works (tangible evidence of improvement in my writing) and this confidence keeps me eager to edit and resubmit after every rejection.

I’ve also been helped by some very fast turnarounds from a few journals. While it can be disheartening to receive a rejection in less than 48 hours (24 hours, in one instance!) this does then immediately free up the story for submission elsewhere, as many of these publishers don’t allow you to submit to multiple markets at once.

An extra note is that I’ve broadened my horizons this year by making a return to poetry, which I’ve dabbled in on-and-off over the years. There are just two poems of which I’m proud enough to have included in the above submissions list, and one which I’ve entered into a humour competition that will announce winners in August. Let’s see how we go!

How are your submissions going?

Do you keep track of your submission stats like this? How’s this year shaping up compared to last year? Tell me all about it, I’d love to know! We can celebrate our wins and commiserate our rejections together. And if you’re yet to submit anything, then I’m here to shout you some friendly words of encouragement.

If you need ideas for where to submit your stories, check out this list I made of my own favourite haunts for scouring short story markets.

Happy submitting!

Author Spotlight at Inkwell Spills

I’d like to thank Nicole over at InkWell Spills for hosting me in an Author Spotlight this week. We covered how I ended up writing The Jack Hansard Series, my turning point in becoming a ‘professional’ author, and a few tips on how to see the value in your work and to make that crucial step towards a professional writing career. You’ll also find a wealth of free writing resources on her website.

Read the full post here.

My 2020 Submissions Round-Up

Last year (2019, that is) I started tracking my short story submission stats – and now it’s time to compare how I did in 2020. So without any faff, here are my numbers!


Story submissions to magazines, anthologies, and competitions.

Number of Submissions: 14

Submissions Declined: 12

Submissions Accepted: 0

Still under review: 2


Dang. I was hoping to beat my previous score, but unfortunately I made 3 fewer submissions in 2020 than in 2019. But, global pandemic aside, at least I have some good reasons for not being on top of my short story game – and some reasons to celebrate, as well! The biggest one being:

2020 is the year I finally published my book debut, The Jack Hansard Series: Season One. HURRAY!

I also had a short story published in an anthology, set myself up to take on some freelance gigs, and am currently knee-deep in writing my next book. Back in March I released a free lockdown-themed Jack Hansard story (you can read it here); in the summer I launched my email newsletter; and in November I had a lot of fun writing up a Virtual Bookshop Tour to support independent bookshops.

So on a purely personal level, it’s been a good year. My family has remained happy and healthy, and we know how lucky we’ve been throughout everything that’s happened over the last twelve months.

I’m going to try to give my blog a bit more attention in 2021. I’m not a natural blogger, so I tend to only post when I have newsworthy updates or some advice which I think others may find useful. I really enjoyed doing the Virtual Bookshop Tour, so I might aim for more pieces like that in the future.

If you want to receive more regular updates from me, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. I email once a fortnite with a short update about what I’m working on – sometimes with links to free books and recommendations from other indie authors. (Subscribers also receive a copy of Deus Ex Machina, another fun little story set in Hansard’s occult world.)

My goals for 2021? Keep submitting stories; publish Book 2; enjoy more time with my family.

I hope the new year has found you well, and that it brings us all a little more joy than the previous one. Remember to take care of yourself, and the people around you.

Happy New Year, folks.

Why Rejection Makes Me Ecstatic

rejected.png

A monumental event occurred in my life today. I was rejected by a leading Science Fiction magazine.

Wait, what?

You heard (read?) me right. At the top of my inbox, only three hours after I’d checked the online status of my short story (‘Under Review’), a nondescript email arrived with the news that my submission was not accepted.

And it made me happy.

“Dear Georgina,

Thank you very much for letting us see “Sleeping Mother.”  We appreciate your taking the time to send it in for our consideration.  Although it does not suit the needs of the magazine at this time, we wish you luck with placing it elsewhere.

Sincerely,

*******, Editor
Asimov’s Science Fiction”

Nothing special. Fairly impersonal, no critical advice offered; of course not, because editors don’t have that sort of time to spend on every budding would-be in their slush pile. So why did it strike such a chord?

This is the sort of news that’s meant to knock a writer to the floor with doubt and self-pity. It’s meant to rock your belief in yourself and the skills you thought you possessed. It’ll make you angry with yourself and question why you even bother writing this dumb shit anyway.

Yeah, I was actually worried those things would happen. I knew, after all the online articles and advice columns I’ve read, that it would be highly unlikely for my very first submission to get accepted. I knew to expect a rejection. But I still kinda dreaded it.

Problem is, that kind of dread can lead to inaction, which can be even worse than self-pity. I’ve been writing since the age of at least ten, maybe younger. I’ve got these cute exercise books full of my ridiculous, badly-spelled, early fiction. By the age of fourteen I knew I wanted to be a published author, and I’ve had that goal in the back of my head ever since.

Funny how it’s stayed at the back for so long, where it’s safe and comfortable.

I made some small, tentative steps – short story competitions, writing forums, even the Jack Hansard series has been arguably tentative. Not once have I approached a professional market, taken myself seriously in a professional capacity… until now.

Ultimately, I feel happy with this rejection because it’s my very first one. First blood. A rite of passage. Proof that I’ve crossed some invisible barrier in my head. Proof that, actually, rejection isn’t all that bad. That rejection, if anything, should make you work even harder.

First thing I did was review my manuscript and make changes. Re-read formatting guidelines. Tightened sentence structure. And then I went to the next magazine on my list, and submitted to them. I feel it’s worth a second opinion.

But while I wait for a reply, I’m going to give the story an overhaul, and make it kick even more ass. It might take another ten, twenty rejections, but eventually I’m going to end up with a story that kicks so hard somebody is going to have to help pick the editor up off the floor.

I want to frame my first rejection and stick it on my wall, and it will sit there as a reminder that there’s no reason to be scared of taking that step, because literally the worst thing that can happen is that you make yourself a better writer.

Sure, I know that sounds easier said than done. It’s one of those things that can’t really be taught – only you can make the changes required by improvement, and only you can make yourself want to pursue that difficult road. But there are some small nuggets of advice and encouragement we can share among ourselves. For my money, after a rejection (and, in fact, before you consider submitting anything, anywhere) an easy first step is to check your manuscript has been formatted correctly. It won’t save a poorly written story, but it might stop a good one sliding out from under the editor’s gaze. They do a crap-ton of reading – so make it easier on the eye for them. For an excellent guide, I sincerely recommend William Shunn’s comprehensive, and above all illustrative guide to achieving the industry standard: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html I’d read descriptions of correct formatting elsewhere, but missed crucial elements until I saw it laid out clearly on the page like this.

I would then recommend reading this article by Sarah Olson for some seriously helpful and down-to-earth advice from slush readers. Even if you’ve heard all this advice before, it’s still incredibly interesting to get an insider perspective. I wouldn’t have guessed that cannibalism themes were apparently so prevalent. Or that starting sentences with ‘It was…’ can be a major turn-off for some editors. They’ve read it all before. Our job is to find the uncommon denominator.

And finally, keep writing, and don’t lose faith. A rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It might mean you misjudged the market, or you landed the editor who has already read several alien invasion stories that day, or that your work was good, but not the best. So keep writing until you are the best, and don’t let dread get the better of you. And frame that rejection letter. Wear it as a point of pride.