Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I enjoyed writing at an early age, but it wasn’t until after college that I decided to try to do something more with it. Armed with a poorly written novel and a handful of mediocre short stories, I went forth to stake my claim among those who had been published ahead of me. What I didn’t understand at the time was just how difficult it could be to become published. My delusions of bypassing the years of waiting I’d heard rumors of extended even to the point of submitting a sample of my novel straight to TOR.

Soon the form rejection letters followed, and my hopes of a quick entry into the writing world were crushed. I wavered on the option of vanity publishing, but once I understood the lack of credibility in such efforts, I abandoned that route. By the end of my first year of submitting to markets, I felt bruised and less sure of myself than at the onset of my adventure.

I abandoned the thought of finding an agent or book publisher for my novel in order to focus on writing short stories. I hoped to find publication in some of the smaller literary magazines and then work my way up from there. One obvious problem was that I wasn’t writing literary fiction. I didn’t understand how poor my selections for magazines were until I paid to enter a contest with one of them. Once I received the issue with the winners and runners-up, I understood that literary magazines weren’t as open to genre fiction as I first imagined.

My stories soon began to change as I abandoned borderline speculative fiction in favor of unapologetic fantasy. I took the world from my shabby novel and changed it, adding a more rigid foundation and expanding this relatively unknown setting into something tangible. The older short stories dropped off my radar, and I stopped submitting them.

After a few years, I had regular time each week devoted to writing. More stories came and went, but through all of this, I was growing in my writing skills. Styles I had been afraid to try became regular as I threw caution to the wind and kept charging forward. I was growing, but still I had no publications to show for all my efforts.

It wasn’t until a submission to
The Sword Review that I had a promising rejection: one that asked if I had more of what I had submitted because the story ended too quickly. I soon completed an additional two stories to accompany the one that had been rejected and resubmitted. After a short time, I was overjoyed to find that they wanted to purchase all three.

It had been over six years since I started submitting stories until my success with The Sword Review. I don’t know what the average time to publication is for a new writer, but the wait is worth it. To those who are still struggling with selling that first story, it certainly won’t happen by giving up, so keep going.