May 26, 2011

Writers Keeping Records: Part 2

10 Optional Records
More records to keep you organized or simply distract.
f (format) * (importance) ? (thoughts)

1. Literary Bio
f fifty words about you and your literary accomplishments
* at the ready for all those acceptances
? do you use humour in your bio

2. Letter to...
f template used for submissions
* provides continuity
? how do you close your letters

3. Magazine Locations
f Province/State...Magazine/Journal...City
*keeps geography in mind with story settings
? will you conquer your country

4.Yearly Contests/Grants
f Month...Contest/Grant...Deadline
* reminder of what's approaching(update often)
? do you submit outside your country

5. No Simultaneous Submissions
f list of magazines that adamantly refuse ss
* also add publications you've been caught at
? how many places have you sent a story to at one time

6. No Response/1 Year+ Rejections
f Magazine...Story...Sent(date)...Response(date)
* tells you who the repeat offenders/slowpokes are
? what's the longest you've waited for a rejection

7. Stories Retired
f Story...Magazine...Sent(date)...Response(date)
* history of stories retired(includes crap and acceptances)
? how many rejections can a story get before you retire it

8. List of Stories Written by Date
f Year/Season...Story
* how much you write in relation to other events in your life
? do you write more at certain times of the year

9. Story Synopses
f Story...Ten Word Description
* fun and challenging excercise
? can you pitch an entire collection in ten words

10. Table of Contents
f Story...# of Pages
* helps you visualize the length and ordering of collection
? what determines the order of your stories

10 Essential Records

May 23, 2011

Writers Keeping Records: Part 1

10 Essential Records
Writers use different systems to keep track. Mine is somewhat obsessive, but it works. I use word files that I update regularly. f (format) * (importance) ? (thoughts)

1. Upcoming Submissions
f Date...Location...Story
* keeps submissions flowing
? how many times a month do you submit

2. Submissions by Date
f Date...Magazine/Contest/Grant...Story...Response(date)
* what's still out there
? do you take long breaks in submitting stories

3. Stories Available
f Story...Destination...Sent(date)...Response(date)
* where is a story, how many times has it been submitted
? how many rejections does your favourite story have

4. Magazine Submissions
f Magazine...Sent(date)...Story...Response(date)
* history with a magazine(# of submissions/response times)
? what do you do if one magazine rejects you ten times

5. Feedback from Magazines
f Response(date)...Magazine...Editor...Story...Comments
* useful in revisions & when feeling crap about writing
? do you mention feedback in following submission

6. Magazines
f Magazine(alphabetical) - include address, fiction editor, email, guideline specifics
* visit website prior to every submission for updates
? how many different journals do you submit to

7. Stories by Word Count
f Story...Word Count(low to high)
* useful when wc is specified in guidelines
? what do you consider a short story, length-wise

8. Literary Resume   
f Publications...Education...Workshop...Interviews...Reviews
* useful for grant applications
? what else do you include

9. Grant Applications
f Grant...Deadline(date)...$...Writing Sample...Response
* keep separate file for application forms
? any tips on project descriptions for a short story collection

10. Contest Submissions
f Deadline(date)...Contest...Story
* quick view history, haven't entered a contest in 2+ years
? do you think contests are worthwhile

Upcoming post: 10 Optional Records

May 8, 2011

Rejections: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Big brown envelopes in the mailbox or email rejections are mere reminders that you are in process. A steady stream of submissions makes the wait, and weight of each rejection seem less. Because I don't know editors personally, I don't take rejections that way.

Good Rejections
These come back under four months - quick in submission land. You recieve handwritten feedback - constructive comments and encouragement to send more work. Some magazines have enough readers to give feedback every time, very cool. Good rejections say your story "was a near miss". So take another look, tweak, and submit elsewhere. Send the almost-made-it-publication a fresh story, and give thanks for the feedback. I keep a file of good rejections to boost spirts when low which happens a lot.

Bad Rejections
These comprise the majority of rejections and come back six to eight months after submitting. A bad rejection is the ever popular form letter/card that reads, "there was too much competition this time," or "your work is not in tune with our style". They offer you a subscription when you already have one. You pull your story from its SASE and it looks suprisingly fresh for having travelled across the country and back. I'm sure all stories get read, but one can't help to wonder.

Ugly Rejections
These come in the mail a year or more after you've submitted, or you never hear back. Ugly rejections contain disparaging remarks, tell you not to quit your day job. Ha. A writer never quits his day job. My stories have been called "weak, thin, and insignificant" by editors. A friend recieved a rejection from a magazine he has no recollection of submitting to. Huh? Ernest Hemingway was rejected with, "It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it". (The Torrents of Spring).

Do you have a good, bad, or ugly tale of rejection?           What do you do with your rejections?

More ugly rejections to famous writers