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  • Writer's pictureShawn Kobb

2020 Year in Review

In 2020 I decided to focus on writing short fiction. Writing it, editing it, educating myself on how to get better at it. For those of you out there who aren't familiar with the world of publishing short fiction, let me tell you: it's tough. Ultimately, it's a numbers game. You must always be writing and always be submitting.

Yes, over time your work will hopefully get better, and therefore your chances will go up of making a sale, but it isn't all about quality. It's also about fit. Your story may be excellent, but if you're submitting your splatterpunk masterpiece to Cricket Magazine, it doesn't matter how great it is.

I've been writing primarily in fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and some mystery/crime for the past year. Here is what my current submission tracker looks like:

That's right. I have submitted 168 stories to potential publishers in 2020. Out of those 168 submission, 17 are still pending a response. Of the other 151 responses received, 7 were acceptances. That works out to a whopping 5.5% acceptance ratio.

Does that sound terrible? Sure. But note the happy little box below the numbers. My acceptance ratio is higher than the average for members of Duotrope (my tracking database.)


See what I mean? It's a numbers game. You have to be constantly submitting. As soon as I get a rejection from a publisher (something that happens several times a week), all I do is mark in my database, and immediately send the story out to the next place on the list. You need to build up a thick skin pretty fast or else it is far too easy to wallow in your failures.

One final note, lest you think I'm a much more prolific writer than I actually am, 168 submissions does not mean I have written 168 stories. Most of my stories have been submitted 5 or more times. Until it sells, it keeps getting submitted. One of my stories is currently sitting at 15 rejections. Does that mean the story is terrible? Maybe. Or maybe it just means the story hasn't found the right editor yet. Not a single one of my sales this year sold on the first submission. Every one was rejected multiple times before ultimately finding a home.

If you'd like to see an overview of my stories published in 2020, you can read that here.

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