Posted by: Doug | July 5, 2012

When to trunk, or retire, an artistic work? Part 2 of 2

Continued from Part 1

SENDING A SUBMISSION to a publisher may seem simple, but a mistake here can cost you months of time. Most publishers have a single-submission policy, i.e. while they are assessing your submission, you may not submit it elsewhere.  So, you must wait until they make their decision to submit to another publisher. If is it not accepted, how many times should you expect to send it out before a given work is accepted? Each time you send it, another few months could pass.

Typically, you’ll want to work through the hierarchy of publishers, proceeding from professional paying markets down to token payments and non-paying markets. If you must be paid and do not need works published to build up your references, then trunk or retire the work once you’ve exhausted the available publishers, or when you no longer believe in the work enough to spend time sending it out again. My experience has varied. Twice, I have had stories accepted for publication after as many as eight tries.

So, is eight my magic number of tries? No, the numbers will change. You’ll get better at writing with practice. You’ll get better at picking publishers that are a good match for your work. You’ll develop a better résumé of past publications so editors will be more likely to seriously read your work since you are a known commodity and a lower risk.

One final thought on the submission process; it is a process. It is not just writing. And it is business. It’s not purely a numbers game, but there is no certainty your work will ever be published. But if you believe in your work, then try again!

I use my The Writer’s Scribe application to send out a work as soon as it’s rejected from a publisher. I keep the mourning period for the rejection short. In the application, I maintain a list of publishers that I’ve already vetted and know are a good match for me. The software does the grunt work of filtering out publishers that do not accept multiple submissions. It also filters by word length and genre. You’d be surprised how quickly the list gets pared down. So from this list, I find a good match and send it out right away. I don’t waste time letting my work sit on the bench. So, however you track your submissions, you should develop a process, your own routine, and stick with it. And finally, good luck. I hope you find a home for your work.