Fiction Submission: On Attempting Critical Mass

Pro-markets. Semi-pro. Token. Free. Anti-markets. Depending on the category your jumble of words falls into, there’s plenty of markets holding their breath for the next, great submission. Doesn’t mean it’s mine, of course, but crazier things have happened. Sure.

I’m about to send out my ninth story into that netherworld, that black hole of unseen editors and assistants and hobbyists and other obsessive-compulsives. Right now I’m still in that category where I’ll throw anything at any wall, hoping against hope it doesn’t splatter back all over me. Blog-zines, ezines, webzines, magazines, antholozines. Paying markets and free markets. I’ll submit to just about anyone crazy enough to open the transom. Sure.

I suppose that’s how most wordsmiths start out. Hellbent on everything, ready to accept anything. Anything for the resume. Any clips you can get. Anyway you can. Until you realize you just tied up one of your best works. I guess that’s just part and parcel of the racket. You pays your dues and you takes your chances.

You have to assume you’ve got the goods going in. What’s the point, otherwise? So you have to allow that presumption.

Presuming that, I’m looking to measure two things. How many works, if any, can I get accepted and into final print and for how much? And if I can start pulling that off, how many submissions do I need to have out there to keep some sort of momentum going? Ain’t that rich? Sure. Those are the kinds of questions designed for wrinkled Greeks in wrinkled sheets to discuss amongst themselves.

I’m figuring an even dozen is a nice, cozy minimum. Maybe a little too cozy. Probably approaching 50 is more like it. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Writing 50 yarns worth submitting? That’s why I’m targeting the first dozen. Then go for another. And another. Before you know it, you’ve got quite a spreadsheet going and get to have fun playing around with sorting by submission date or response time.

I’ve even run across an amusing, little distraction along the way. See, one of my latest creations is another short story series. The fantasy regarding these tales would be to get one story accepted, then the second, then the third. Slowly, sure, but eventually, some readers and editors would start recognizing the series popping up all over the place. Wouldn’t that be a gas? It’s the kind of fantasy that can drive the next 2,500 words. Sometimes. If you’re lucky. Sure.

In the meantime, I’m still cranking out the three monthly yarns for my hard-boiled subscription series. It’s all enough to keep me off the streets, anyway. Enough to keep me plenty busy. Enough to keep me out of trouble as far as the real world is concerned.

And as long as I can claim one paying subscriber, that makes me a professional writer. Just in case any of those editors get curious or nosey. That’s all that separates a writer from a hobbyist, a pro from an amateur. Your stuff has to be out there for a price tag. It doesn’t have to be good—just paid for and published. There’s always a catch.  Sure.

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2 thoughts on “Fiction Submission: On Attempting Critical Mass

  1. Paula Mills says:

    Ben, do you have HBD out on the sites like Sony, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, Baker-Taylor Bilo etc…? Or do you run it all from your site.
    Your blog voice is HBD. Sure. I just read a little teaser.Sure. It’s not my thing, you know not my chick lit.Sure. But damn man – you can write ! And I see it in my head, which is rare these days. You write so well and in character….. I was just sitting in the movies watching a man, watching a man- and then……….it’s gold.

    • Ben Solomon says:

      Paula, you sure know how to bowl a guy over. Thanks for such kind words. As for “The Hard-Boiled Detective” being out there, right now it’s available only by subscription from the website. Nice and exclusive-like. Sure.

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