Publishing Update: Staying Positive

So, let’s be positive today. Tuesday’s a good day for positive thoughts, right? Sure it is. The week hasn’t had time to truly fuck you over and you’re still drifting on the leftover chill from the weekend, so all hope hasn’t been lost. Great time for optimism.

I read somewhere that a good acceptance rate on submissions is about 10%. That means 1 in every 10 stories you sub gets accepted. I thought I was at or near that line for the most part, but I’d never actually done the math. Well, this morning I did and I was pleasantly surprised. I was also surprised to learn that I haven’t subbed as often as I thought.

I’ve only been tracking submission since mid-2016, so I can’t say what my averages were before that. In 2016, I only recorded 29 submissions. I think it was more like 40, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, I went crazy in 2017, because I wasn’t working as much, and subbed a whopping 82 times. It dipped again last year, because I was working A LOT, and I was only at 33. This year, so far, I’ve subbed to 11 places. I think that’s a good start and maybe I’ll be closer to 100 by December, unless I get depressed and say fuck it and ignore publishing entirely for a month or more like I sometimes do.

Anyway, between then and now, my average acceptance rate is around 15%, although this year I’m at 18% and we’re just starting. (I hope that’s a good sign) So, I’m above this average that someone made. Even if it’s a bullshit figure made up by someone who knows nothing, I’m happy to be above average according to one person.

But the main point of this post is my little announcement. In case you missed my previous announcement, my story HIGHER LEARNING, will be published by Unnerving in May, 2019, as part of its MIDNIGHT SNACKS chapbook series. This is a limited series, which means only so many copies will be available to buy, so pre-order now to reserve yours.

HIgh Learning

But wait. There’s more.

I’ve been working on a book for a really long time. Like, way longer than I’ve ever worked on anything else. It’s a long book, about 110,000 words. Originally, the bad boy was over 150,000 words, but I chiseled away at it for about SIX FUCKING YEARS to get it to a more manageable length. It is close to my heart for many reasons, including the many hours I spent weighing every word, evaluating every scene, trying to decide which could stay and which had to go.

I’ve talked about this book here before, because it’s tormented and obsessed me for a long time. It’s a special project. My original intention in writing it was therapy. Yes, therapy. I was following my mentor’s advice to write something close to my heart in order to get in touch with the feelings I usually try to avoid. Only when you understand and stop fearing such things can you make someone else feel them, he said.

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So, I wrote the damn thing. I took all the ugly and disgusting shit we usually try to purge from our memories and I threw it all in there. I hated every minute of the first draft. There were even tears!

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I know, it’s horrible to even think about it. Then on to the rewrite. A few beta reads later, I realized I had something really good, even if it was full of purple prose and an embarrassing amount of overwritten scenes. The beta readers reported, after their critiques and editing suggestions, that it was a story that punched them in the gut, all for different reasons. Some of them were so angry they had to put the book down for a while. Some felt sad or disgusted, and some, at the end, felt hopeful. All the feelings! And they all had to keep reading to the end. Isn’t that what we strive for? Yes, it is.

As the rejections rolled in, the most common feedback I received was that it was “too commercial” for the places I was subbing to. “Too mainstream.”

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I fought it, but finally, I said, “You write horror. Stop trying to make this something else.” One last brutal rewrite, cut another 20K words or so, add a scene here or there, take a few characters in a new direction, and voila! Submit again with the obligatory oath about publishing myself if this doesn’t pan out…

Guess what? You probably already caught on to what’s happening here. “THE ONE YOU FEED” will be published, by Unnerving, at the end of June, 2019. And in case you didn’t notice, I’m so fucking excited about this. This novel is important to me, as you probably guessed. I guess we all have a favorite. Up until now, I’ve hesitated to choose one, but it’s definitely one I’m most proud of for many reasons.

Of course, you guys might hate it and then I’ll be over here like, “Well shit…”

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It’ll still be a favorite, because I learned so much about myself and about writing during its constant edits, but I’ll still be devastated if no one likes it as much as I do.

What’s my point? I’m not bragging. Those numbers aren’t really brag-worthy, after all, and that’s a really long time to have a novel floating around one’s hard drive.

I’m saying chin up. It’s usually better than you think it is, and as long as you’re seeing some success, you’re doing it right. Trust your gut. I knew, I mean, I KNEW this book was different than others. Despite constant rejection, I kept editing. Every time I learned something new, I applied it to this book, while I’ve completely abandoned all hope for others. I never stopped trying to figure out how to make it better. And now, here we are.

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So, keep going. Keep learning. Don’t ever think you know it all, because you never will. Change shit if you need to, take advice and criticism, and keep writing. Eventually, you’ll get there, or you’ll get close, and that’s pretty impressive too.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, so all of this positivity will probably be dried up and I’ll start being terrified of people actually reading this book. I’ll just enjoy the high while it lasts. You should too, because shit could get pretty dark around here…

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4 thoughts on “Publishing Update: Staying Positive

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