I don’t have an exact date for this particular anniversary but it’s sometime in the beginning of February. Around this time twenty years ago, I sent out my very first submission packet. I sent a jumbled mess that very clearly showed my age, I’m sure. This was in the days before I had a proper email address or consistent access to the Internet so the big envelope was mailed off with a little envelope inside it. It was about a month later when I received my very first rejection from a publisher (and rightly so! That poetry may have been good for my age but I cringe reading most of it now!). Two weeks later, I got my first acceptance (for two poems and a short story) so that softened the blow, even if it was a local zine that didn’t pay, everyone else in that publication was much more established than I and it was a balm to my ego.
From 1997 until 2004, I didn’t keep very good track of submissions at all. There were a handful of acceptances in that time, almost all poetry I believe, but mostly there were rejections. Rejection after rejection. On at least two occasions, I very nearly quit. Until I remembered that there isn’t much else I’m good at or passionate about. In late 2003, after accidently sending the same poem to the same market twice, I started my tracking spreadsheet so it never happened again.
From 2004 until now, I’ve had acceptances, rejections, withdrawals, and dead markets. I’ve had more failures than successes but those successes make it all worth it for me. So, in the last 13 years, I’ve sent out 769 submissions, not including query letters or work for the blogs I write for. Of those, 14 markets went dead while they had my submission, 12 got lost in the ether, 6 were withdrawn, 624 rejections, 76 acceptances, 1 rewrite request, and the rest are currently under consideration. The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually.
The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually and I don’t see myself narrowing that too much. Except with my novels – I will probably stick to genre work because I enjoy it more.
Let’s break down the acceptances. Some submission packets had more than one item in them, at least with the poetry, some things have been published more than once. I’ve had 25 short stories (plus at least 2 prior to 2004) and 1 short story collection (Hardwired Humanity). 8 essays, mostly about my mother. 51 poems (plus at least 6 from prior to 2004). And last, but certainly not least, the three novels: Guardian of the Gods, Hunter’s Crossing, and Eldercynne Rising.
Maybe it’s not where I had imagined I’d be in 20 years, but it’s not too shabby either and it’s not like I’m done yet.