82. A strategic turn

A couple of months ago, I wondered if I should concentrate my publication efforts on short stories. Despite a few near misses, I’m not getting anywhere in finding an agent or publisher for my novels, but I am starting to get recognition in literary magazines.  And I’m doing better than in 2015.

acceptance-rate-2016

Compared with last year, the pattern of success and failure shows that this year I was published in magazines with more demanding acceptance rates than in 2015. Last year, I got into magazines whose acceptance rates varied from 6.67% to 50%. This year, the spread has been from 3.85% to 29.66%.

As you can see, just because you’re a “3.85% man” doesn’t mean you don’t get rejected by magazines with acceptance rates close to 50%. Editors have individual tastes, and you have to learn what those tastes are. The magazine at 3.76% from which I got four rejections is Bartelby Snopes, one of my targets.

Two of the instructors in the University of Iowa writing course that has just finished, thought concentrating on short stories was sensible. Both said they first got approached by agents because of short story publication. They also advised entering competitions.

So this is what I’m going to do for the next year. I will concentrate on prestigious magazines and competitions, and hope to boost my “signal” above the “noise”. And I’m thinking of applying for mentorship programmes.

 

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