Time for another Hi Susan. This one was sent to me by Janey who asked…
I wrote what I thought was a great short story but I’ve sent it to just about every publication on my list and still no luck. When and how do you decide to call it quits on getting a story published?
It’s something we all go through. I used to write a story and feel that this would be the one that would finally get published in my dream magazine, but then the dreaded rejection letter would appear in the mailbox…again and again.
To answer this question, I had to think about if I’ve ever retired a story.
I have and I sort of haven’t. I’ll tell you why and I’ll also interweave some tips about what you can do.
First of all, switch to writing another story. That’s what I used to do. After a day or two of feeling down in the dumps that the story was rejected, I’d switch gears and try writing another one and sending it out. Yes, even to the same publication. (Just doing that sometimes lets the editor know you’re not going to stop sending them your stories).
Switching gears also helps you look at the older story with a fresh perspective. So the second thing to do before you call it quits, give the story a slight revamp.
Another thing, change genres. I’ve used romances for mysteries and vice versa. It’s also a great exercise for getting you out of your comfort zone.
Aim lower…I hate to say it, but I’ve done it. When the top tier magazines said no, then I’d send them to ones that didn’t pay so well or even just paid you in copies. Some people might shake their head at that but when you’re starting out, it’s a byline. It’s something to put in your cover letter to the next editor you send a story to. It’s that vital step in the right direction.
And finally, some stories did hang out in a drawer or on my computer for a few years but once I got some stories published, I sort of got the courage to start sending them out again and they all found homes.
So, when do you retire a story? My response is never, maybe just revamp them and send them on their way again but every story is worth going the distance.