Like all writers, I keep records of my submissions, acceptances, rejections, withdrawals, publication dates, and so forth. I can't say this kind of recordkeeping is fun--I'm an engineer, not an accountant--but it's a necessary evil if you write and send off as many short stories as I do. Well, I take that back: recording acceptances is fun. Rejections, not so much. My first impulse when I receive rejection letters is always to delete them from my email or, if they're real letters, toss them into the old cylindrical file, which I often do. (Class, can you spell denial?) But I also record them. The only thing worse than receiving a rejection would be to accidentally re-send the same story to someplace that's already rejected it once.
Keeping up appearances
Anyhow, I took a look last week at my so-called ledger, and--all things considered--I suppose I've been fortunate in 2013, writingwise. I still had a lot of rejections, but so far this year (not counting a collection of thirty of my short stories, released in May) I've had one story in AHMM, one in The Strand Magazine, one in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, ten in Woman's World, two in The Saturday Evening Post, and half a dozen in other magazines and anthologies. It probably won't surprise you that most of these were mysteries. I had, alas, no appearances in Ellery Queen, although I tried.
One thing I'm extremely proud of is that so many of my SleuthSayers colleagues and our frequent commenters have appeared in the big mystery markets this past year. I won't try to name all those folks here for fear of leaving someone out, but believe me, our group was well represented. I like to read stories in those publications anyway--I was addicted to AHMM even when I was in college--and it's especially enjoyable when those stories bear the bylines of my friends and associates. I only wish I could write as well as some of them do.
Here's what I mean: Do you tell yourself to keep a certain number of stories or novel queries out at any one time? Do you try to submit a certain number of stories to a particular publication in the course of a year? If you do, are those kinds of self-imposed quotas beneficial to you? If you don't, do you think they could be? I do know that if you hope to publish regularly in some of the larger short-story markets, it's almost a necessity to have multiple submissions in the "under-consideration" pipeline at any given point in time--especially for those publications that take a long time to respond.
I don't submit as many stories as I once did, but I decided long ago to try to always keep at least one story out to each of (what I consider to be) the four most popular mystery markets--AH, EQ, Strand, and WW. If/when a story gets rejected, I just send another one. In fact I send out another story to the place that rejected me and I send the rejected story out to a different market. With regard to response times, you're probably already aware that AHMM and The Strand usually take longer to get back to you than EQ and Woman's World.
As for next year, I have mysteries upcoming in AH, WW, Sherlock Holmes, Mysterical-E, and a suspense anthology called Trust & Treachery. And I'm keeping fingers crossed for positive responses to the rest of the unpublished stories that I currently have circulating. (I had enough negative responses this year to last me a while.)
So that's where I am at the moment. I hope you and your writing career have had a productive and enjoyable twelve months. In terms of writing/publishing, I guess I'd have to say 2013 is turning out to be better than some years and worse than others.
Isn't that true of life itself?