I'm not sure that I have been explicit enough in previous blogs I've written about getting your work into print. I think you have to be relentless; that's probably the best word for it.
This week I saw some of my relentlessness bear fruit when The Piker Press began serializing my 34,000 word novella, "Thank you, no. We're well." It's set in post-Revolutionary Russia and forms part of my story cycle extending The Brothers Karamazov from 19th century Russia to 20th century America.
The problem is: Who will publish a piece that long? And how? Editor Sand Pilarski suggested breaking my five part structure into eleven parts and offered great suggestions on where those breaks would occur. He then gently pushed me to do some research for period photographs which he has drawn on to give the novella a cover and some extra life throughout the text.
I came across The Piker Press the usual way: scouring Duotrope and the Poets and Writers Data Base, plus a few other caches of good literary venues. In the "old" days, you had to buy expensive guides to the literary marketplace, updated annually. Not any more. What you have to do is read through brief descriptions of a journal's interests, visit the website, think hard about whether it's worth giving it a try, and then give it a try.
Yesterday I came across an online publication that interested me called Bewildering Stories. I had a very unsual, very bewildering story from The Last Karamazovs? cycle to offer. Today, unbelievably, the story was accepted.
I keep lists of my stories and where I've sent them on a Bento-based data base. I also have a drop down menu of 200 or so magazines I've researched and become familiar with. You've heard of a lot of them: 34th Parallel, Mississippi Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Quarterly West, Indiana Review, and so forth. The data base tells me what I've sent, when I've sent it, and whether I've had a reply. I'm always careful to "withdraw" stories that have been accepted elsewhere.
Again, in the old days simultaneous submissions used to be a no-no. In some cases, it still is. Main Street Rag is ferocious about this, which is fine. I'd say 70% of literary publications have learned to live with losing a story if they don't read and accept it fast enough.
I had two other quick acceptances recently, one of which I'll mention because it illustrates how you find "leads." Atticus Review accepted a story called "The Woman in Yemen." As I looked further into Atticus, I discovered it's open to publshing story collections. You can't know everything, so this was news to me, and I followed up with a proposal. Maybe it will generate interest, maybe it won't.
I'm pretty sure I've written before that I reject the use of "rejection" in the writing game. I can't overemphasize the fact that work may not be accepted, but that's a subjective call, or a call based on the magazine being fully booked, so "rejection" isn't the right word. Banish it from your literary psyche. You've never been rejected and you won't ever be rejected. This is more than semantics unless an editor goes to the trouble of abusing you, which won't happen. They don't have the time or the gall or the lack of sympathy with people who put themselves through the challenges of writing. Most of them have been or still are writers themselves. Most of them eschew the word "rejection" in their responses. I've had many things not accepted; I can't recall anyone using the word "rejection" in the process.
My stories, forty of them now, appear in print and online journals and journals that are both print and online. I'm convinced that relentlessly pushing yourself and relentlessly pushing your work out into the world is critical to seeing it in print. There's no secret to it. Every magazine receives scores and even hundreds of submissions for each one it accepts. The key is to continuously keep yourself in the mix, try to find magazines that really seem attracted to your kind of writing, and keep writing...writing...writing.
Causes Robert Earle Supports
World Wildlife Fund