I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks about my short story writing process. But of course, having a final draft of a short story isn’t even close to the end of the battle. The third part of the short story writing process for me is submissions.
Once I have a story that I’m proud of, I like to send it to a couple of people to read for me. It’s actually pretty hard to find people to read stories critically. A lot of people that read my stories fall into one of two categories: they say they’ll read it but they don’t, or they read it and say it’s wonderful and fabulous and I should try to sell it. Of course, occasionally I come across a reader who is actually helpful. This fabulous person reads my story critically and tells me what needs improvement.
After that, I’ll review any helpful comments that I receive and decide whether they can be applied to my final draft. I’ll read through one more time for minor adjustments, spelling, and grammar. Then I shift the draft into manuscript format, if it isn’t there already. I’ll spend a few days (or weeks) working myself up to the confidence level that I need to submit and get on a website that’s going to help me find places to submit to.
My favorite is The Grinder. It’s free and I find the interface very helpful. Because the only point of submitting for me is to get paid for doing something that I enjoy, I usually search for places paying at least semiprofessional rates. I don’t feel like I should undervalue my writing by doing anything less. If it’s good enough, I’ll get paid, if it’s not, I’ve enjoyed writing it anyway. Once I’ve found a few candidates, I’ll read their websites. If the magazine or webzine has free content, I’ll read a couple of existing short stories so that I can get a feel for what they like.
Once I’ve narrowed my possible submissions down to the likeliest place, I’ll read their submission policies a couple of times through. I’ll make sure my manuscript is in whatever format they need it to be (this is the closest thing to taking a standardized test as I get these days), then I’ll mail off the submission. After a few quick updates to my submissions spreadsheet, I find myself playing the rejection-waiting-game.
Some day I’m going to get accepted somewhere! That day just hasn’t happened yet.