Submit, Submit, Submit, they cry!

So, if you are gonna do the whole writer thing, hell, I guess any arty sorta stuff, there comes the day when you must submit to the will of  the Other. Submission is part of the process though. Whatever you do, whatever art you are involved in you have to submit to the public, to gallery owners, to dealers, publishers, sellers, buyers, your peers and hell, that list can go on and on. To varying degrees, without the submission, the art remains unfinished.

We can tinker with a work, whatever it is, until the end of time, changing it as we change, growing it as we grow, but there is a time when you have to release it and accept it as it is. Sure, you may tweak it, you may evolve it, but in the end, if you release it then it’s never truly finished.

And there’s the rub, the hardest thing you do is the very thing you have no choice but to do – release it.

Submit.

Of late I am in the middle of the sumission dance myself. I am looking for markets for short stories and the novel again. There’s a fun site to check, which I was clued in on from the Brian Keene Forums  at http://www.briankeene.com and that site is –

http://www.duotrope.com/

Pretty rad site.

While in the midst of this I have also dicovered that there’s a new format to follow when it comes to submitting and that is Manuscript format, something I never knew existed before. This is as good a site as any to see the rules –

http://www.ericmanske.com/manuform.htm

Yikes though, I tell you what, it is hard enough to even FIND markets these days but then you have to roll through half a dozen rules. Good grief. It’s a wonder anyone gets published these days. Hell, I hadn’t even HEARD of the manuscript form until a rejection email I got the other day. Crackers! What else don’t I know?

Next thing ya know they’re gonna tell me I have to write something original.

What?

That’s utter nonsense, for realsies.

It is discouraging though, the submission because more times than not it isn’t even the disliking of your work that hurts but the indifference to it, as if it is but more product to be approved or disapproved and then everyone moves on. I tend to think the days of the helpful rejection are gone and now you’re left to keep submitting works over and over again until someone either accepts it or you just give up on that piece and try another. With me, the trouble comes in that I have dozens and dozens of stories and I just never know which to try to submit. I totally appreciate that some works are more appropriate for some certain markets but, damn, it’s not always so easy to say – that one is crap, and this one is good, and that’s that.

It drives me nuts, I have to admit, the process of submission you go through as a writer, especially when the industry is in such turmoil. It’s so damned impersonal and automated. It seems like you’d want to inspire writers, want to inspire stories, and want to help breed the next generation when instead you get carbon copy rejections and little to no direction.

Hell, the best example of this I can give is from when I went to the World Horror Con in NYC in 2005. So I had signed up to sit down with a publisher for a pitch session. I was super freaked out and scared but excited too because, what if? Well, so I get there and am told that there was a bit of luck on my part and I’d get to pitch to two publishers, a small one and a bigger one. So now you double my fear and anxiety and there I am up late one night trying to sum up my novel into less than five minutes. Cripes. So the big day comes and I go in and in BOTH cases three of the five minutes of the pitch were spent telling me about the publishing house and what they do and want and all that and barely any of the time was spent on why I was there. They were more interested in pitching themselves to me than wanting to hear what I had, and that’s a lot of the market now.

Read our magazine.

Check our guidelines.

Follow our rules.

Only send things that are just like this but not at all like that.

There are more rules than issues for some of these places. And it’s like you can see the reason, you can see the sense in all of it, and you can appreciate that things have to follow a standard but I can’t help but wonder if the standard gets in the way of finding and promoting new talent.

Worse may just be heading to the forums supporting your favored art and seeing the pettiness and bitterness therein. Yipes!

I can’t help but wonder sometimes if in submitting we aren’t tossing children into an ocean and hoping they’ll learn to swim, or trusting that a passing ship will find them.

These days, I see the sense in jumping in after those kids and swimming beside them until they’re ready to swim for thesemselves. I see the sense in self publishing, even if it’s nothing I want to turn to.

Yet.

c

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