What do you do with all your rejected stories?

Started by rewh2oman, March 23, 2020, 10:45:22 PM

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I write lots of short stories (I haven't ventured into the novel arena yet). I've published some on Amazon (which has gone nowhere) and submitted many more to magazines and contests (with minimal success).

I don't expect I'm going to make a living at this, but I'd like folks to read them at least. Any ideas?

What do you do with all your rejected stories?


A lot of them are printed out and stored in folders.   Some get sent out again and again over the years.  Too many people give up after one magazine rejects a story.

Stories can be seasonal even if they're not a specific Christmas story or whatever.  On the subject of Christmas stories most of those which get published were submitted and accepted by June.

Finally, one story can be re-written in many ways to suit different markets.  Not just a quick find and replace for personal and place names, but a change of viewpoint.  (Is this beginning to sound like hard work?)

Keeping track of these variations and where and when you sent them needs some record keeping.  Some creative types have trouble with this.  It's much more fun roaming in your imagination and playing in the sandpit with your characters than being a filing clerk ;-)

This is where an old school chart on the wall can - sometimes - work better than a computer spreadsheet.  With a spreadsheet you need to make an effort to go and look at it.  The chart on the wall will nag you everytime you walk past, or sit close enough to see it.

If you want to write for money remember that 80% of the words which get sold are non-fiction.

This doesn't mean your short stories won't sell though.  You just need to work that bit harder at finding a market.  This can entail actually buying a magazine and reading it, for several issues.  Some magazines can be read in your local library to get a good general overview of editorial requirements and quirks.



Thanks, Gyppo.

Lots of good info.

Did I read you correctly in that 80% of what gets sold is non-fiction?
That doesn't leave much room for mine, or anyone else's, fiction!

I keep track of everything: written, submitted, rejected etc. and with dates too. I don't like looking at it much, too depressing.  :)

I've found you're right about writing for the right market. I'm just not very good at finding someplace that my story is applicable.

I tried something different recently. I wrote an essay and submitted it thinking it had pretty good odds. I was wrong. I found another site and re-wrote that same essay to "conform" to that sites readership and it too was rejected. I re-wrote it a third time, but this time I converted it into a fiction story. Alas, it too bombed.

Tucking them away for some time and trying again later is a good thought too.

Thanks again!


Statistically that 80% non-fiction is daunting.  But the fiction market is still huge.  It's just that non-fiction is, to deliberately use a bad word for effect, huger.

Don't forget that non-fiction also includes advertising copy, the wording on cereal packets, and stuff like that.  Someone has to write those words.  They don't just happen.  Trade magazines, specialist interest magazines , such as motoring or fishing, or flying, or budgie breeding.  And then there's the more professional websites on the same subjects.

Speaking of seasonal markets, here's an example.  Several of the surfing magazines only allow a small window, one or two months, for submissions.  They can rough out their yearly publishing schedule way in advance and block out pages for reports on regular events.  An already chosen piece can be pushed aside if a celebrity surfer dies and they do a big spread about him or her.  Or find something to fit from the 'we like it but wouldn't normally have room for it' pile if a big event is cancelled and they have several empty pages to fill.  But otherwise it's pretty much set in stone months ahead.

Their narrow submission window allows them plenty of time to pick and choose.

Keeping your 'back catalogue' in a physical folder(s) also means your children/family can get to read them if your computer password has died with you and they can't get online access.  Look on it as a delayed gift ;-)