Monday, June 2, 2008

Well, that was quick

Wrote a polite e-mail to a magazine with a broad brushstroke outline of the story I wanted to submit, included my UK writing credits just as an introduction to say I wasn't a complete tyro. About three hours later I received a polite, but rather wordy refusal.

That has to be the quickest rejection slip I ever received. Not even a reading. Just like my previous five or six submissions to various magazines. None of my work has even been read by any commercial publisher since 2005 / 2006. It's a bit spooky when no one seems to want to touch your work with a barge pole.

The work is good and of publishable standard. Wife, who has a degree and has taught English professionally proofs all my stuff. She liked the story and thought it was of merchantable quality, and I trust her judgement. She's quite open about what she thinks is and what most definitely isn't up to snuff. It's not as if I was trying to fob the publisher off with shoddy work or a hack job. It was an original piece, but drawn from the backstory of my current full length project. Just one of those stories that doesn't fit in with the main theme, yet is associated because it shares a sub thread.

It's at times like these you get to wondering if there's not some internal memo passed between publishers with the names of writers who should never be allowed to get their works in commercial print. Some form of informal blacklist. Blacklists exist, and have existed for many years, ever since Ug the caveman was forbidden to make buffalo drawings on the cave walls by the local Shaman because Ug had publicly told the Shaman that he was a doddery old fraud. From neglect, omission, carelessness or malice, it occasionally feels like I've found my way on to one. I bloody well hope not.

Notwithstanding, submission is a pricey business for a would be author. Magazine and Publishers who do not accept electronic submissions, and there are quite a lot of them, require double spaced typing on A4 sheets bound in a particular manner. This costs the writer money, often money he / she doesn't have. Paper isn't cheap, ink for printing isn't cheap. As for the year or five of near non-stop effort in order to put together the base manuscript, well, that isn't cheap either. Neither is the packing or postage. A full 120,000 word manuscript is a weighty thing. Trying to write a novel (Or any other length of story) can be like paying the mill owner for permission to come to work.

In the meantime, I shall be taking my time and doing what I do. Write the story, get Wife to check it out, and adding it to the pile of unsold material. I'll punt a couple of things across to the big guys and see what happens. If no-one wants to buy, then all the people who tell me that they wonder why there is so much fantasy and space opera out there, and so little 'hard' sci-fi, are going to be a missed market opportunity.

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