I got a rejection email the night before last, letting me know that the story I submitted wasn’t what they were looking for. In a way, I’m kind of apathetic to it, but on the other hand, I’m also glad that I’m in a decent headspace where getting a rejection letter/email isn’t as…profoundly discouraging as it would’ve been if I’d actively started sending stuff out in my early 20s. The joy of following magazines and authors on various social media platforms (mainly Twitter) has helped me understand that it really is a giant slush pile and you are up against hundreds of other authors vying for the scant handful of available space.
It also reminds me of when I worked on my high school’s literary/art magazine and the small space we had available for art, poetry, and short fiction (granted, it was more of a “how terrible is this. I love you to death, but this story makes no sense. Why did (Teacher) think this was ok to submit? I know you can write better than this, I’ve read your fanfiction. What the fuck artwork is this? This is a circle painted on a board. Why did y’all agree to put the creeptastic art as the cover?”
Granted, the literary/art magazine I worked on in high school (The Delphi) was also an award winning high school magazine and we worked hard to make it awesome. Laughably enough, it’s also the last place I was published (for comics my senior year because the group of people who judged these things thought the comic we published my junior year was a great idea and the editor, my Classical Literature teacher, wanted to do it again and asked me to do it because he knew I doodled all the time). And that was…13 years ago, so it’s not like anyone is going to remember that.
I told Jamie about the rejection and pointed out that I wasn’t sure if I should submit the story elsewhere or just post it up here and be done with it. He went, “Well, why not post it online and submit a new story somewhere else in a month. That way you have the story posted and you have a new deadline.”
Tempting. Very tempting.
I told him that the average anthology/collection is approximately 16 stories long and if I do post the story online, I’d be one more story closer to having my own little collection that I could publish. He agreed and said I could totally do my own book. Yeah, I could self-pub it. I’d spoken with a cover artist a few months back about how I like their cover art and agreed to speak with them about ideas when I got my shit together, so there’s that.
I know it’s possible to self-pub your own work; all you have to do is just go through Amazon’s list and holy hell there are so many self-pub books. And, I have to remind myself: if my former English teacher can do it, then so can I. If the guy who writes those Pounded in the Butt books can do it, so can I (I haven’t read any of them, but the covers crack me up). If Andy Weir can do it, so can I.
As Jamie and I were discussing it, I pointed out that I know it takes forever to get any sort of following, and I remind myself of Ursula Vernon. Jamie was a fan of her art before she did Digger and introduced me to her art, which I found pretty awesome and then found her blog and have followed her ever since, lurking in the background and every so often sending her and Kevin photos of weird shit they could try on KUEC. Back then she was just another artist we enjoyed (gods, she was still updating Gearworld), but now she’s Ursula Vernon, noted children’s book author, going to be GoH for Anthrocon, Hugo Award Winner, gardener who is married to a Disney Princess and currently trying to be coerced into adopting goats (it is hilarious to watch the interaction about goats on twitter).
I also think of Sam Starbuck, self-pub author of…5 books now? I don’t remember. I just remember following the blog where he had the first 3 chapters of Dead Isle posted, when it was still just titled Jack and Ellis, and then started following his main blog and have been a fan ever since. He’s most noted for Harry Potter fanfiction (Stealing Harry, a fanfic I have yet to read, but a lot of people enjoy it) and the Izzy Universe (Avengers fanfic series). He’s not like Ursula Vernon level of known, but he’s got thousands of followers. And it helps remind me that this shit takes time.
I guess, if anything, I’ll sit on the idea of posting the story for a few days and see what I think. I may just say fuck it and post it or send it out to someone else. I’ll work on polishing up some ideas, or pecking away at a story idea or two, and see what happens. That’s the most I can do, right? There’s no reason to get discouraged over this. It’s just one story, in a sea of hundreds, that wasn’t right for that particular magazine. And that’s cool. Maybe the next one will be what they’re after, or maybe they’ll have already picked the handful and the story after that will be picked. And if the story is crap, then the story is crap, and I can go onto the next idea.