Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Publishing: Beating the Odds

13 September 2011

Many of you know I’m the submissions editor for BayCon’s nascent fiction market (gentle reminder: submissions close 9/15; currently, submissions are running 40% flash and 60% short stories). In a practical sense, that means I’ll be reading all the submissions, culling it down to a short list for each of the Flash and Short Story pieces. Because I’ll be reading all of them, I added minimum and maximum qualifications so that we wouldn’t need a staff of editors to make the first cut.
I’ve heard from three different people that, because we’re only publishing two stories this year, they don’t think the “chances” of getting in are good, so it’s not worth tying up a story. Now, I’m not criticizing where people want to submit (your writing career, your goals, after all), but I can say something about the “chances” aspect.

Publishing Is Not a Lottery

Like acting, success in publishing is showing up at the right place at the right time with the right presentation on the right project. There are no “odds” except that the person seeing your work happens to give it the best read possible, and the number of times you submit a piece increases the likelihood it’ll find its way onto the right desk at the right time. Frankly, you don’t know what the “right” timing is because you don’t have the experience of the flow of submissions from the other side of the desk.
We’ve all heard stories about how many times J. K. Rowling was turned down, and I’ve seen the ream of rejections some friends have accumulated. Then there’s the flip side: some things sell first time out. “A Sword Called Rhonda” did. It also sold the second. That doesn’t mean I’m especially clever, truly it doesn’t. It just means I had the right piece at the right time for the right market. I’ve accumulated my fair share of rejections.
If there are 100 submissions, that 101st submission doesn’t affect the likelihood your story will get accepted unless your story was already borderline. If it’s superb, it’ll still be superb. If it needs work, it’ll still need work.
Anyhow, it’s not a lottery, and it’s not a game of chance. In this case, a good story could get you between $50 and $200.

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