Questions Answered: Part Uno

I recently received a question from Akasha Savage, in my comments, that I thought deserved a close look and thoughtful answer.

Akasha asked the following:

How hard do you find it to get your writing accepted anywhere? I write on the dark side, and although I’ve had a fair share of favorable comments and been told numerous times that my writing should find a market…no one ever wants to publish the damn stuff! I have given up submitting at the moment, I am concentrating on my novel instead, but would really like to know where to send my short stories.
Any ideas?

Oh how I can relate. In fact, I’m sure most writers, if not ALL writer, can relate to this. Because at one point or another, nearly every writer has received rejection letters. The only reason I am qualifying the statement with “nearly” is because there just might be one or two freaks of nature out there that were immediately accepted for publication and never had to endure the sadistic initiation into the Writer’s Guild.

But for the rest of us, your distress, Akasha, over finding the right market for your stories, is a shared experience.

So, to answer your first question, yes, I do find it extremely hard to place my work. I too have slammed my fist down at the phrase, “It just doesn’t fit the focus of our magazine,” or “It’s just not what we’re looking for right now.”

Be warned. Many times, these generic phrases are just that: dreaded form letters.


But there are times when an editor will actually comment on a story, and these times are glorious in their horridness. They usually are saying the same things as the form letters, only I am more inclined to believe them when they take the time to actually write me a personal letter about it.

Try to learn all you can from these, few and far between, personal letters.

Along these lines, I’ll throw out a piece of disposable advice that you can find in any writer’s magazine or blog: “Get to know your markets.” The idea is that if you read a magazine before you submit to them, you’ll know if they accept the type of work you write. This is all well and good in theory, but to be honest, it has never done me much good.

Usually magazines are summed up pretty well in their guidelines. And besides, editors are usually fairly opened to new things as long as it’s good.

Getting to your last question, my answer is, yes, I have some ideas, but in the end it really depends on the type of stories you’ve written.

Check out my sidebar (to the right). I have a few magazine links there that I have submitted to. Also, check out the link to “Duotrope,” also on the sidebar. It’s a good place to start. You can search magazines based on pay scale, genre, and other things. Also check out

Cheers, and good luck.

5 thoughts on “Questions Answered: Part Uno”

  1. Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah)

    I think another thing that can be added to get to know your markets is this – get to know editors if you can. Try to get to writer’s events, meet editors, make contacts. More than half the trick of getting through the slushpile is actually making a connection with an editor through an event/conference etc. That’s when you can introduce yourself and ask if you can submit material to them. And once you’ve established contact, nurture it but don’t abuse it or pester the editor.

  2. Thanks for answering my question in so much depth Tony.
    I have read your work…and enjoyed it.
    I think the most surreal comment I’ve ever received…bearing in mind I write horror/fantasy…was: that I was expecting too much from my readers by asking them to suspend disbelief. Er…hello?…that’s exactly what writers of any fantasy genre are expecting their readers to do, isn’t it?
    I wonder what the likes of Stephen King would say to that?

  3. I agree. Great advice Tony.

    I read a quote somewhere that said:

    A professional writer is just an amateur who didn’t give up.

    I think that there is a lot of truth in that.

  4. Thanks everybody. Glad this reply made some semblance of sense. I’ve been trying to get some major work done, but as soon as I feel caught up, I’ll post again.

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