Writer’s Toolbox

Ask The Writer

Your most pressing and perplexing questions about writing answered here by Gotham teacher Brandi Reissenweber.

I've had enough of the grind of sending out story submissions and collecting rejections. Are there other ways to get my short stories into print without self-publishing?

It sounds like you need a break. Take one! Your exasperation even comes at a good time—the summer months, when many journals are closed to submissions. Of course, not all authors have the luck of emotions so well timed to the ebb and flow of the market. Even in the full swing of things, it can be useful to take a step back. Feel free to wallow. Maybe you just need a bit of time to feel rotten about the whole process. Or you might need to turn more of your attention to other pursuits that do feel productive, like the novel you’re working on or new short stories. If this break turns into a full-on stall, consider these ideas:

Network. Yes, lots of stories are discovered and published via the submission process. But there are other ways to place your work. Get yourself out into the literary world. Give readings. Go to conferences and workshops. Attend literary events. Not every experience will put you face to face with an editor interested in your work, but you will be creating opportunities for this to happen. Use social networking sites to connect with journals you respect and stay updated on events they host. Don’t be a shark, circling editors until they’re free for a strike. Try to have some fun and stay open to the possibilities and connections that can occur.

Delegate. A few companies will, for a fee, do the story submission work for you. Some writers will argue that you’re the only one who knows your work well enough to know where it belongs, while others will argue that a company that makes its money attempting to place creative work will have a wider knowledge of the market. If unshackling yourself from the process is worth it to you, start investigating. Make sure you look only at reputable, well-established companies and research your options thoroughly.

Re-think. Perhaps there’s something about your approach to the submission process that could be changed or tweaked to make it more manageable. Instead of submitting work every week, you might put aside more time once a month or every other month. Are your tracking logs too comprehensive? Are they too disorganized to find information you need quickly? Do you constantly have to get password reminders for submission log-ins because you don’t record them in one convenient place? Fix those problems. Find ways to streamline the process and still remain professional.