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Anyone else have HM or SHM stories that will likely never see publication?

 
LibrarianBarbarian
(@librarianbarbarian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39

I was overjoyed to get SHM for my first WotF entry earlier this year. I'd submitted the story in an earlier form to F&SF magazine and gotten a high tier rejection for it. The SHM I received for my revision made me very happy and proud!

Then, reality sank in and I realized that this story will likely never reach an audience, unless I self-publish and manage to sell it to about five or ten people, or if I throw it away for free on some site like WattPad.

The only magazine I felt would be a real fit for this story was F&SF. I know they frown on re-submissions, and also, they have had an editorial change, and I presume their preferences have changed as well. It's a good, solid, exciting and emotionally moving story, in my opinion, and apparently that of the Judges of WoTF, but its not 'hard SF' enough, or diverse, enlightened, revolutionary, or literary enough for the major markets. Probably would have sold easily back in the '80s days of Del Rey and DAW books, but now it's a hard sell.

I haven't seen any small press anthology calls that would suit it. I'm sure there might be a couple of places that would publish it on a non-paying basis, or pay me enough to buy myself a McDonald's meal, but I think it's worth a bit more. Even then, it's too long for most of those markets. I guess my vision will remain a private one, except for the gracious critiquers and judges who have already seen it.

Anyone else have a similar situation with their HM or SHM?

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Topic starter Posted : December 30, 2020 9:01 am
NVHaskell liked
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Member
Posts: 993

LB,
Absolutely.
While I don't try very hard to sell my stuff, I also don't have much success with what I have tried to sell.
Part of selling is name recognition. (Part) If two equal stories reach an editors desk, yours and an author they feature twice a year, yours is coming back.
Don't beat me up too much for saying this, but... write your next story. This is not to say don't sub, but is to say you have untold stories to love just as much or more that will eventually reach readers.

The Q1 I just subbed is now my favorite story. How many stories down, and I just finished one I like more than all the others...
It's not the most representative of me. I like military sci-fi. Check out my story about androids fighting a war with swords... Let's go. But, and I've said this aplenty about WotF, their open call allows you to write anything spec, so your imagination is unrestrained to write about androids with swords, or giant space moths, or a mute ogre mystic (I've subbed two out of those three).

Ultimately you will write something undeniable.
Then you'll do it again.

Ken Liu is my inspiration. Dude created a Genre... But if you don't know his backstory, check out how he got where he is. His path to success was paved with unsold HMs...

2x Finalist
2x Semi
6x Silver
9x HM
1 of 6 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : December 30, 2020 9:43 pm
NVHaskell liked
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1114

You never know what will sell. As far as my sales breakdowns go:

  • Three of the stories never even made it to WotF (they were written for specific markets--two of them all mine, one co-written--and they managed to sell on their first outings).[/*f1hp6ovu]
  • One was an edited version of a flat rejection.[/*f1hp6ovu]
  • One was an edited version of an honorable mention.[/*f1hp6ovu]
  • One was my second finalist (although that sold to a semi-pro market rather than a pro market).[/*f1hp6ovu]
  • I have an unsold finalist and both my semi-finalists are unsold so far (although one has only been to four markets at this point, and I rarely consider retiring a story until it has at least 15 R's from various markets). I've never sold any of my SHMs. I've only sold one HM. Hell, I sold an R (although, as mentioned, both it and the HM had seen revisions).

    But I've sold six stories!

    All we can do is write stories we love and send them out into the world.

    P.S. Don't self-reject. There are tons of markets out there, although some are open more frequently than others. (Several open up tomorrow!) I didn't know any of my stories would sell until they did. I'm just very stubborn.

    If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
    R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
    Ticknor Tales

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Posted : December 31, 2020 6:32 am
NVHaskell liked
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

I had a story that I submitted to every coordinating judge in the Contest, no revisions. It got HMs from each one. I sent it to every pro market that appeared for twenty years. It got great personal rejections, and was held for six months to be published, but the new editor said he couldn't find the room and sent it back. I finally sold it three years ago. "Beast of the Month" to Third Flatiron. It resold to their Best of the Year anthology. They also hired me to do the voice-over for their podcast. That story I kept sending out for all those years is the story that relaunched my career. WotF followed later, but I was already rolling because of that sale.

If you know a story is good, never ever give up on it. There are always new markets opening up. It's a matter of finding the perfect fit.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
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Posted : December 31, 2020 4:45 pm
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chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

In over two years of trying now, I have not sold any of mine. Lots of personal rejections though. But, I am still trying. (I've sold one to a semi-pro market). I think Dustin is right. I am guessing name recognition is a huge part of it. It's not enough to just write good, even really good, stories. Lots of people are putting great stories out there. You have to achieve some success and then capitalize on it. I think Moon is a great example. He's a really good writer but also has worked hard to leverage his initial success. Of course, people do come up with stories that just can't be ignored. Those are rare gems though and even those can get missed. We've all heard the tales of how Frank Herbert and J.K. Rowland had great trouble selling their masterpieces.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38: HM, R, ?

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Posted : December 31, 2020 7:24 pm
MrH
 MrH
(@mrh)
Member
Posts: 98

J. K. Rowling. Assuming that's who you mean.

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Posted : January 1, 2021 10:01 am
Chezecaek
(@chezecaek)
Active Member
Posts: 16

Those anthology calls will keep coming. New markets will open in the future. It may take a while before you find a viable place to send it to, but it's not going anywhere, is it?

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Posted : January 18, 2021 6:53 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 360

I have one that sticks out to me, in that it's an HM, a story I love, and one that I don't think will find a happy home. In its earlier incarnations, it made the second round at F&SF, the final round at Daily Science Fiction back when they still published one longer-form story each weekend, and earned an HM here, but it's been through the wringer a lot by this point, and has run out of homes I'd care to try sending it to--with one exception.

However, I did wonder if I've accidentally edited away the original's spark over the years. The version that made that second-round and that DSF final round is not the one I've been working with more recently, and the later edits have never had the same degree of almost-success as their ancestor. So for my last tilt with it, I've gone back to an earlier edit and tried submitting that one, without re-reading it, on the strength of some of those earlier responses. I don't have strong hopes for it, though, it's very much a shot in the dark.

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 4 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q3.V38 and Q4.V38 / Q1.V39 20% done on draft 1
Last result: SHM for Q2.V38
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : May 10, 2021 11:03 pm
Agathon
(@agathon)
Bronze Member
Posts: 63
Posted by: @doctorjest

However, I did wonder if I've accidentally edited away the original's spark over the years. The version that made that second-round and that DSF final round is not the one I've been working with more recently, and the later edits have never had the same degree of almost-success as their ancestor. 

Before the lockdown, I used to occasionally see author Jeff Johnson (he wrote Dead Bomb Bingo Ray, among others) at gatherings of creatives around my neighborhood. He once offered to read the first paragraph of one of my stories, which lead to a predictable, in hindsight, lecture about 'The Hook.' The only other advice he gave me was to keep early versions of a story. If the creative process is going off the rails, go back to an early version and rewrite from there.

This post was modified 4 months ago by Agathon

Agathon McGeachy
Figure Sculptor, Mechanical Designer, Reformed Rakehell, Writer
Vol 37, Q2: HM
Vol 37, Q3: HM
Vol 37, Q4: HM
Vol 38, Q1: R
Vol 38, Q2: the waiting is the hardest part
Now in print: NIWA 2020 Anthology 'Escape' available on Amazon
Coming soon: NIWA 2021 Anthology 'Forbidden'

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Posted : May 11, 2021 6:34 am
Wulf Moon liked
Agathon
(@agathon)
Bronze Member
Posts: 63
Posted by: @librarianbarbarian

I was overjoyed to get SHM for my first WotF entry earlier this year. I'd submitted the story in an earlier form to F&SF magazine and gotten a high tier rejection for it. The SHM I received for my revision made me very happy and proud!

Then, reality sank in and I realized that this story will likely never reach an audience, unless I self-publish and manage to sell it to about five or ten people, or if I throw it away for free on some site like WattPad.

Rejections are discouraging. Don't give up on your story though. Editors buy what they think they can sell. That can change. Definitely save it for later.

If you're good at the craft, you'll eventually be recognized, which will open doors. If you win WotF, then F&SF might reconsider your story, especially if there's been a change of editors.

Right now, I'm reading Machine Learning, an Anthology of Hugh Howey's stories and the publisher proudly proclaims that previously unpublished stories are included! And I've heard that sort of thing before in a promo for an Anthology.

Also, as others have mentioned, there are other markets that come and go. The only stories I've sold so far were to Anthologies. I have ten rejections from magazines from the last year, all for HM stories. 

You've received an SHM, you have every reason to be optimistic. Keep up the good work! Save the old work.

This post was modified 4 months ago by Agathon

Agathon McGeachy
Figure Sculptor, Mechanical Designer, Reformed Rakehell, Writer
Vol 37, Q2: HM
Vol 37, Q3: HM
Vol 37, Q4: HM
Vol 38, Q1: R
Vol 38, Q2: the waiting is the hardest part
Now in print: NIWA 2020 Anthology 'Escape' available on Amazon
Coming soon: NIWA 2021 Anthology 'Forbidden'

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Posted : May 11, 2021 6:48 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

@agathon All of the inspiration is in the original. If you were in flow state when you wrote it, it’s the pure subconscious genius within speaking. I don’t advise against giving a story an edit, which is polishing the rough diamond to make its brilliance shine. But a rewrite changes its molecular makeup into something else. It’s why the kind author told you to go back to the earlier draft. He knows where the rough diamond was forged. 😊

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : May 11, 2021 8:38 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 360
Posted by: @librarianbarbarian

I was overjoyed to get SHM for my first WotF entry earlier this year. I'd submitted the story in an earlier form to F&SF magazine and gotten a high tier rejection for it. The SHM I received for my revision made me very happy and proud!

Then, reality sank in and I realized that this story will likely never reach an audience, unless I self-publish and manage to sell it to about five or ten people, or if I throw it away for free on some site like WattPad.

One thing I would add, is--don't necessarily quit on it. Keep looking for markets. My first SHM at the contest was Ashwright--that story sold to On Spec Magazine, and then more recently was picked up by PodCastle as a reprint.

But prior to that, it earned itself that SHM and twenty-nine straight rejections. It took years, and some small measure of bloody-mindedness, before I finally found it a home.

If you love a story, chances are, someone else will too--and sometimes it'll take a while to find that person. But it's always worth keeping it in mind, and throwing it back out into the world now and then as opportunities arise. The length may be a problem, for sure (and that's a problem Ashwright didn't have), but you'll see markets come up now and then looking for longer pieces if you keep your eyes open. So let it sit and simmer in the back, work on the next piece, and when an opportunity comes up, pounce on it. You never know, it might just be the place that takes it.

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 4 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q3.V38 and Q4.V38 / Q1.V39 20% done on draft 1
Last result: SHM for Q2.V38
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : May 17, 2021 9:10 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

and I rarely consider retiring a story until it has at least 15 R's from various markets)

I like that, Disgruntled peony. The most markets any of my stories have yet seen is 6, I think. But if they're rejected, I'll definitely give them another look and send them back out.

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : June 9, 2021 6:35 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

@doctorjest

I agree. I never give up on my stories. There are always new markets it might be the perfect fit for if you don't give up on it. I shopped around “Beast of the Month” for over twenty years, and it was even held for publication before editors switched out at a pro publication, and the new one sent it back with apologies because they had taken so long to find the right issue mix for it (yeah, you can have a great story, but it simply doesn’t fit a theme or blend they’re going for). 

The good news, as I’ve mentioned in times past? I never gave up on it, and I never rewrote it. I just kept watching for editors to switch out (or coordinating judges in this contest), or new publications to open up. When I saw an open call for an anthology titled Strange Beasties, I knew I had the right fit with “Beast of the Month.” It sold, the editor paid me to narrate it, it went on to be published in their Best Of, and I just found a new home for it in LTUE’s A Parliament of Wizards anthology. 

But the sale went far beyond that. I used the podcast as my demo reel to apply for other voice-over work. I got approved at Apex, Podcastle, and then Gallery of Curiosities hired me to do a good number of their podcasts. Alex Shvartsman heard my work and asked if I’d like to work for him on a new magazine, Future Science Fiction Digest. We reached pro status a year and a half ago. Then, Jeff Wheeler heard my work there and contacted me. He hired me to produce his Audible autobiography, Your First Million Words.

Because I never gave up on that story, it put my career in launch mode before I won WotF. It actually created a surprising new career path for me. My advice? If you believe in a story, don’t give up on it. Most of my stories have been everywhere before they sold, over many, many rejections. Some of them needed an update as my skills advanced over the years, but they’re the same stories. So I recommend not losing first rights by putting them on your websites. And you can see why I feel strongly about this. Of course, everyone has different goals with their writing.

But this has worked powerfully for me.

Here’s “Beast of the Month” if you’d like to check it out. I wrote this at Rockaway, Oregon, a writing retreat our writing group Wordos put together every year. Good times created some great stories.

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/podcasts-from-3f/beast-of-the-month-by-wulf-jtLNCiXJulg/

 

 

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : June 9, 2021 9:29 am
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 153

I hope my 3RD quarter makes it at least HM or SHM. I’m not sure what I will do with it after that.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : June 9, 2021 3:12 pm
NVHaskell
(@nvhaskell)
Bronze Member
Posts: 50

In response to the original post I would like to add that I just sold my first story which was a SHM last year. I considered re-writing it and resubmitting but, following some advice I read here, I did a couple of rounds of edits and started sending it to a few select places where I thought it might be a good fit.

I got a few rejections, but where it ended up- Deep Magic- is perfect for the story and better than I ever hoped. So, hang in there, if you know you have something good it might just be a matter of perseverance, timing, and fit.  

 

‘If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.’ ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
'The War Within' Deep Magic Volume 73 https://deepmagic.co
'A Straw in the Wind' in A Hero's Journey Anthology coming in 2022
V37- R, HM, SHM, HM
V38- HM, SHM, P

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Posted : June 14, 2021 6:19 pm
David Hankins, Wulf Moon, DoctorJest and 2 people liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 158

I still have one or two older stories that I'd love to see published one day. They will require revisions, as they're not my best prose, but the concepts in them are cool. Currently, I'm too busy writing new stuff. But I'll swing back to them at some point. 

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : July 9, 2021 8:02 am
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