A moment of publishing panic

November 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

I had a big, heart-racing, prepare-yourself-for-embarrassment moment of panic yesterday. First, a bit of background: I started submitting short stories to science fiction and fantasy magazine a little less than a year ago. I started out with two making the rounds of the various big name magazines in sci-fi and fantasy short stories and quickly became frustrated. I had only gathered about six rejections before I was feeling like submitting was a big waste of time (for reference, many stories are rejected a dozen times or more before they find a home).  It wasn’t an “I should burn everything I’ve ever written and never touch a pen again” kind of frustration, more the “My work is clearly not ready to submit” variety. I was ready to pull both stories and buckle down to improve my craft when I was playing around with Duotrope (an awesome resource for finding markets by the way) and stumbled across the “semi-pro” category of magazines (all based on pay scale).  These magazines didn’t pay the five cents a word of the bigger mags, but they still paid something.

I pulled a name off the list, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, looked up submission guidelines, and sent off one of my short stories, expecting a rejection.  When the response came a few weeks later, I opened the email and skimmed it, expected another form rejection (I hate form rejections [though I understand the need for them]). I had to read it twice before I understood that they were interested in buying my story, and a third time to ensure that I wasn’t hallucinating and they really wanted to publish my story in the November issue.

Fast forward to today when I was reading Nascence by Tobias Buckell (great book for writers; review to come) and he talks about his early experiences trying to get work published. He sent out a shotgun blast of submissions to every short story market he could find, regardless of pay scale, and was (understandably) quite excited when one of the “magazines” asked for the rights to his story. It wasn’t a paying market so they didn’t technically “buy” the story, but they did offer a free copy of that issue to him. When the day finally came, what arrived in his mailbox was a packet of photocopied printer paper, stapled at the corner.  To top it all off, the stories were surrounded by hand drawn pictures of genitalia.

This all seemed rather hilarious to me, until I started thinking back to how I came across Andromeda Spaceways, and panic shot through me.  In the three or so months since I got the email, I’ve told just about everyone I know that I’m getting a short story published. I used it as an excuse to start a blog, a twitter account, and a facebook page, all on the assumption that this was the start of my writing career, wherever that career leads. Horrifying visions came to me of my coworkers, aunts, and friends I haven’t seen since high school ordering this magazine to see what I had written (which is a stretch of the imagination anyhow) and being sent a photocopied, stapled stack of paper. I would be mortified even if the stories weren’t surrounded by hand drawn phalluses.

Obviously a Google search ensued (because that’s where I go when I need information or reassurance). This cover art did not comfort me. Fortunately, that’s the only cover, shall we say, of that nature that I found, and as it turns out Andromeda Spaceways has had a solid track record of almost a decade as well as some significant contributors over the years, as well as short stories that have gone on to win awards.  I breathed an enormous sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to spend my Thanksgiving fielding questions like “Whatever happened with that short story you published.” Here’s hoping for cover art that I won’t be embarrassed to have show up on my parents doorstep.

If you’re interested in reading my short story, How to Run a Five-Star Restaurant in the Capital of the Elf Kingdom (By R. H. Culp!) the November issue comes out this Friday and is available in both e-reader and physical varieties (as well as in PDF if you’re looking for the $5 price, but don’t have an e-reader).

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