WHAT'S NEW http://matthewbrennan.net
12/7/13: I've just relaunched this blog! With a whole new look, I'm returning to this blog and will be publishing my fictions - old and new - along with notes and thoughts about writing and being a writer. I'll also be including posts about my work with World Vision as their blog manager as well as my travels. You can now subscribe to this blog by email or through Google+, and you can leave me comments here or in Google+ itself. Come read!
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6/18/11: My website is live! I have pages for my fiction and translation projects, news updates, a list of my publications, and information about my editing services. Check it out! http://matthewbrennan.net/
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Inundation as a submission strategy
When I was working on my MFA in fiction, I had a colleague who would send the same short story out to 30-40 journals simultaneously. Now that's playing the odds! Duotrope currently lists over 4,900 literary journals, and with every editor having different tastes and needs, it can certainly feel like a needle in a haystack trying to submit one story to that one perfect editor or journal.
Most journals allow simultaneous submissions, but think about this: if you receive your "yes" sooner than later after 40 submissions, that's a lot of withdrawals notices to send! Once I get a story out with 3 or 4 journals, I start to feel reluctant to continue, wanting to hear back before sending submissions that – optimistically – might have to be withdrawn.
My best advice about this problem is simple and often said but can't be said enough: always keep writing! No matter the rejections, the busyness of submitting, etc. Keep writing. That's how I was able to find publishing success through a different kind of inundation.
Rather than sending out dozens of copies of the same story, for the past several years I've been maintaining submissions out with anywhere from 20-60 journals at any given time … but no story to more than 4 or 5 journals at once, because I'm writing enough stories to keep new ones always going out.
This is one way in which writing flash and micro fiction has helped me because they write and polish up faster than longer pieces; I'll be posting more about how best to write these styles soon.
Even with 60 submissions pending, none of them were sent blindly. Check calls for submissions at Newpages, Duotrope, Poets & Writers, etc. Do a Google search for journals. Search Twitter (more on that to come, too!).
Even though editors may feel like a needle in a haystack, many of them do tell you what they want in the submission guidelines. Though you should support the journals you like, you don't actually have to read several issues of every one you want to submit to. But do your research and try to pair your submissions up with journals that you feel are a good fit. If you think it fits, your chances are better of finding an editor who agrees.
Also remember: the more you submit, the more rejections you'll get – sometimes I get a rejection every day! – but you'll place more, too. For a while, I was able to publish 1 or 2 publications each month with this strategy, which is significant considering that before I started doing this, I'd published only one. Ever. You do the math.