I’m doing a bit of writerly housecleaning this evening.
At any given time, I try to have a dozen or so short stories in circulation, submitting to various magazines (mostly online) or for anthology calls. Some stories get accepted relatively quickly – which for me means that it takes less than ten submissions – but others go out and come back again and again.
Eventually it gets to the point where I’ve run out of places to submit them. Once I get down to the markets that pay a token five bucks or (rarely) a print copy of the magazine, I’m forced to consider the possibility that the time and effort is not equal to the reward. A couple of my stories have done the rounds and have yet to find a taker. It’s time to admit that they probably never will.
It could be that they’re bad stories. I don’t think they’re terrible, but I’m not always in the best position to judge. It could also be that they just aren’t what any editors are looking for, for whatever reason – length, subject matter, title.
One of them is certainly longer than most paying markets will tolerate. At over 7000 words, ‘The Feast of Horns at the House of Saint Mitus’ Eye’ was very difficult to find eligible markets for. Though I remain very fond of how it came out, the experience of submitting it unsuccessfully for two years convinced me that I needed to write much more compact stories.
Also that I needed to get much, much better at coming up with story titles.
The other one is ‘The Nature of Monkey’ and is recent, relatively brief and has an excellent title. As a runner-up in a short story competition, it was printed in the convention magazine at Conflux 12 in October this year. An excellent feather in my cap, and I couldn’t be happier.
But as a side effect that publication also expired its first-use rights, which means I can’t sell it again. Most paying markets purchase the right to be the first publisher of a story, and for exclusive use of the story for some agreed period (usually a year but it varies).
Publishers of short fiction are not interested in purchasing the rights to a previously published story, even if it was only in a magazine that about a hundred people read. Having exhausted most of the reprint-friendly markets in short order – mostly the audiobook/podcast ones – I think I’d rather just keep it close to home.
So in the spirit of Relentless Positivity, I am officially retiring them from the submission carousel and putting them out to pasture.
The pasture, in this case, is over on my Free Fiction page.
The Feast of Horns at the House of Saint Mitus’ Eye (7400 words)
The Nature of Monkey (4000 words)
I hope you enjoy them.