Revise and Resubmit

It’s been a week, y’all.

I got two short story rejections two days in a row. One of those rejections wasn’t even emailed to me–I had to go to the online submission portal to check on the story, where I found that actually, it had been rejected two and a half months ago, two days after I’d submitted it. If I did get an email, it got eaten by my spam folder. So that was fun.

Rejections suck. I know all the platitudes–not every story is right for every journal, the market is super saturated, part of the trick is finding the right fit, persistence is key, et cetera. These platitudes abound in academia, too, where I spent the last decade of my life.

I could write a lot of words about how the platitudes work in academia, but I won’t, because I don’t want to put myself in too bad of a mood. But one thing that academia has that the short story fiction market doesn’t is built-in peer reviews.

In academia, when you submit an article for publication, the editor may reject it outright. But most often, the article gets sent out to two separate reviewers, who read and critique your work and provide a recommendation to the editor regarding the article’s potential for publication. These recommendations usually comprise four options: reject, revise and resubmit, accept with minor revisions, and accept.

When your work comes back with a revise and resubmit, you receive comments on your work from each reviewer, and in some cases, an additional set of comments from the editor synthesizing the reviewers’ concerns and making specific suggestions for where to focus your revision efforts.

You don’t get that with short story submissions.

If you’re lucky, you might get some feedback on your story, but I haven’t seen any yet. Then again, I haven’t been actively submitting my short fiction for very long.

I’m not saying that the academic peer review process is perfect. There are a number of reasons why it’s not, but I’m not going to go into them here. It’s just that I wish the fiction writing… world… had a better mechanism for giving and receiving constructive criticism of your work.

I know these mechanisms exist. There are sites like Scribophile, which I have used and like, for the most part. And there are people you can pay to provide feedback on your writing. Most of the writing coaches I’ve found, though, focus on critiquing book-length manuscripts and perfecting your query letters and pitches to editors. And they’re expensive.

As they should be. I know first-hand that providing quality, detailed, useful feedback on people’s writing is difficult, time-intensive labor. I’ve done it. I did it for ten years. On academic writing, but still.

However, paying for critique services is an investment I don’t currently have the finances to do. Especially when I’m writing on spec, as much of/most fiction writers do. Every story you put out into the world, every minute you spend writing and revising and submitting and resubmitting is a financial risk. When do you decide to throw in the towel on a particular story and start with something fresh?

So that’s why my current strategy amounts a bit more to receive rejection, immediately resubmit to next venue. Don’t revise, just keep submitting. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. And then get back to writing.

So this week, I received two story rejections, but I submitted three stories.

I resubmitted the two rejected stories at different venues, and then I ended up writing an entirely new piece based on a new journal I’d found that none of my current finished pieces fit. I needed something shorter, so I wrote something shorter. And submitted it.

And of course, I keep writing my fanfic and my serial fic over on Tapas.

And now I’m blogging.

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Just keep writing.

Weird Google Queries as Author Social Media Strategy

Writers love to joke about their weird search histories.

A Google search for “Writers and Google” turns up a couple of Tumblr posts along these lines–feel free to peruse them at your leisure.

As I wrote on here last month, I’ve recently decided to get serious about my writing. This means, of course, I’m devoting a lot of my time to writing in some form or another–writing fan fiction; writing original, serial fiction; working on more long-form original fiction; writing professional copy for websites; or writing here on my blog.

It also, as it turns out, means I’m writing a lot of social media posts.

There are a host of thinkpieces and resources explaining why contemporary authors need to be active on social media, so I won’t go into those details here.

Rather, I’d like to share a social media strategy I’m currently developing, partly because I think it’s neat and hope somebody else might find it useful, and partly for accountability. As a writer, and in other areas of my life, I’m a big idea person–I get neat ideas and sometimes I go through with them. I think this is a neat idea, and would really like to follow through with it. Writing about it on here and promising to report back will maybe give me the motivation to actually… do that.

Today I googled….

The strategy is, essentially, to frequently share your recent, writing-related Google search queries. I got the idea after spending a good ten to twenty minutes on Google Street View trying to figure out where in Lochapoka, Alabama (a real place) would be a good spot to put Hicks Chicken Farms (a ficitonal place). Was I procrastigoogling? Maybe a little bit. But I also thought it was funny, and thought the small audience I was building for my author page on Facebook might find it funny as well.

Image of Facebook post linking to my story Gig Hunters on Tapas. The post reads, "Being a writer means sometimes you google weird stuff. Recently, it meant I spent a lot of time on Google Street View trying to figure out where in Lochapoka, Alabama (a real place) to put Hicks Chicken Farms (not a real place). This story I'm publishing on Tapas has me googling a lot of fun stuff, but I don't want to spoil too much just yet!" The post has reached 33 people and has 19 engagements.

And I was right. I posted it a couple of weeks ago, and I think it’s still one of my best-performing posts to date. Granted, my page is still extremely small, so even as one of my “best-performing posts to date,” it’s still only got 33 views and 19 engagements, but they’re all organic–that is, I didn’t pay Facebook to boost the post for me. And that feels pretty good for a page that still has under 40 followers.

So, I’m going to see if I can keep that momentum going, and post every so often about weird Google searches that I think my audience will appreciate, all directing traffic to my original fic Gig Hunters on Tapas. My original fic’s following is still extremely small, as it doesn’t have the inherent draw that fanfic in an extremely large and still-active fandom does. So it needs all the help it can get!

So I think the strategy will be to share Google queries once a week on Tuesdays. That way, I can remind folks that a new episode will be up later in the week on Thursday–keep the fic fresh in their minds and build anticipation for a new episode release.

We’ll see how it works. I’ll try it out for all of October, and then do a bit of analysis and report back.

What about you? What’s your weirdest writing-related Google search to date? Do you share your weird writing queries with a social media audience? What are the responses like? Let me know in the comments!

It always takes longer than it takes.

My spring break began today.

Well, technically, my institutions’ spring break starts on Monday, but my spring break began today. I’m taking a few extra days to visit my long distance partner, who will also be on spring break next week.

We’re both academics, which means we’ll spend a bit of time goofing off, but we’ll also still work several days of the “break.” Before I left, I spent some time thinking about what I could reasonably expect myself to accomplish while traveling. I took a look at the research & writing calendar I’d made up for myself mid-February… and laughed.

I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be, and I probably won’t accomplish much in the way of research over spring break. I have access to some of my data, but I work best with printed materials, and I wasn’t about to load a bunch of transcripts or journal articles into my already over-packed personal item (my trusty LL Bean backpack). So I’ll probably spend some time working on research while I’m here, but more than likely I’ll work on teaching–grading, giving feedback, planning upcoming classes and revamping courses for next fall. The research and writing will likely wait until the following week.

I’m disappointed, but I built in some extra time into the calendar because of something my dissertation director always told me–something her late husband always told her. “Writing always takes longer than it takes.” And if that isn’t the truest depiction of writing processes, I’ll eat my hat.