I am starting to get more confident in my writing and the feedback I have received all seems very positive so I decided to submit something for publication. How, where and what were the problems that faced me next.
The in-laws bought me The Writers and Artists Yearbook for Christmas and I decided to trawl through that first. It’s great for telling you which magazines are out there, but as to who accepts what and how to go about submitting, there is not really that much advice. I have built up a number of followers on twitter who are writers and so I sent out a tweet asking how to go about writing a submission letter for a short story. Within the hour I had a link to a blog post from @davisac1 which gave me the set out of an enquiry letter and details of things I should include in the main document. These included my address and real name, which I never realised had to be on each document, as I have only entered competitions before and with those you only put your name on the title page and make sure it is nowhere else in the document. Also included in the blog were details of magazines that would accept flash fiction (stories of less than one thousand words) and who you should email your submissions to. These were mainly horror or suspense stories with a twist and I had a piece of flash fiction which I thought would fit the bill. The biggest problem I have is that as I have committed to release a story each week on my blog I am not building up a group of stories that can be submitted to magazines. However I decided to give it a go with a story I had written based upon a prompt from a flash fiction group I am a member of.
Firstly I had to make sure that I wouldn’t be let down by my spelling or my grammar. So I read the story through three times and then sent it off to my mum. She came back and had managed to spot another couple of mistakes. This definitely highlights the value of getting someone else to read my work as I was convinced I had checked it well and still I had missed some things.
So the story was polished and I picked a publication. I looked at a number of publications and the one I chose fitted all the criteria and had a turnaround time of only three weeks. Some publications can hold your work for six months before they even reject it and as this was my first attempt I really wanted feedback quickly. In a weird way I was not expecting to be accepted so I wanted the rejection to come back as soon as possible so that I could learn from it.
As predicted two weeks later I received my rejection email. You know what? It wasn’t the end of the world. It was short and sweet but it didn’t say “please never submit anything else to this publication”, it didn’t say “don’t quit the day job”. What it did say was that for that publication flash fiction had to be extra special and unfortunately mine wasn’t. However as I said in my first post, it took me a long time to become a really good accountant, so I am not going to become a really good writer overnight.
So I think we should perhaps rename this entry to ‘My first submission’. It took time to get to this point and the feedback and support I have received from total strangers, through my blog, twitter, The Telegraph Creative Writing group, to name but a few has been invaluable. All I need now is to build up my portfolio and keep trying to improve and grow based upon this feedback. I will then look to submit more stories until one day I can write a post called ‘My First Acceptance’.