This post was inspired by Nate Tower’s great blog post about Choosing Your Publications wisely which really got me thinking about my publications last year (check it out HERE!). This is my little story about why you should choose your publications wisely.
2012 was a good year for me and I’m extremely grateful. I was fortunate to have a lot of great publications and for anyone who has been following this blog, you know last year marked the publication of my first short story collection, Watering Heaven. I was thrilled and honored, and thank you to all of those who’ve helped it to sell as well as it has. With a collection out there, I decided I would try something different with my writing. Normally, I write mainly fiction. But towards the end of 2011, I made a resolution that I wanted to try my hand at experimental fiction, flash fiction, as well as nonfiction. Some of the works I really liked. Others were colossal disasters that I’m embarrassed to even look at (sorry to all the editors who had to read my failed attempts, I deserved your generic rejection forms!). Writing is all about trying out new things though and one of the pieces I wrote was a pseudo-test gauging one’s personality while masquerading as a psychology test. It was drawing on some of the catalogs I’d read, as well as my background in psychology to really probe and question . I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a home for it, but send it out to a few places I’d found out about online. I was thrilled when one accepted, and for a print magazine. When I first did the research on them, I thought they had interesting content online and liked the fact that they seemed really big on promoting the artists. I made some changes/edits that they asked for which was in January of 2012. They sent me a google doc as a contract which I had to fill out in May of 2012 asking for my full legal name and other various info. A month later, I got a note from the editor telling me that they had accepted too many submissions and now had to reject several stories (around 14 I believe). We had three options. 1). Publish to their online site. 2). Wait for the next issue and be at the top of their consideration. 3). Withdraw the work.
I wasn’t in love with any of the options, but I had written the piece for fun and I thought, well online, I could at least easily send it to all my friends. I initially asked the editor what he recommended and he suggested we do it online as a quiz people can fill out. He created a page for the piece, though it was locked and hidden with a password. He mentioned the reason that they were locking it was because a festival for the release of the new issue was coming up and they were considering printing my piece as part of the brochure that people could fill out. They would then post the best answers online. That sounded like a fantastic idea and I got really excited about it. An interactive piece was exactly what I wanted. I attended the event, even wrote an article covering the festival (I’ll be the first to say I had a blast and I really liked the crew involved). My piece wasn’t present and it was kind of an awkward question when a few people I met asked, “So how are you connected to these guys.”
“I’m the writer who had a piece accepted but got unaccepted and I thought maybe it was going to be shown here, but it no longer is.”
Even here, I’ll be the first to say there was no guarantee of printing on the brochure. It was just an idea that got floated and it’d be my fault for getting disappointed. The test was still online, though locked off by a code. The editor told me he’d be putting it up eventually and would let me know when.
Now it’s February 2013. The page is gone. I have no idea what to even do with the piece. One year later and not even a note of explanation. Technically, it was online, but would be it be considered published (so that I could no longer send it anywhere)? I did email them earlier to ask, what happened to it? I’m curious if they’ll even answer one year later.
The most disappointing part about this situation isn’t the publication (or withdrawal) but just the way it was handled. A lot of us do what we do for the love, not because we’re getting paid. I love writing and always will. But what started off as a fun experimental piece of writing now has become a sort of painful reminder of what happens when we entrust our material to the wrong people. Again, I don’t want this to be an attack on them as I think what their magazine is doing is interesting and I wish them the best in their endeavors. But it was a wakeup to be more selective about where I send my work and the kind of work I do send out.
I’m fortunate in that this year also marks my transition into longer works. Signal 8 Press picked up the option on my novel (of which I’ll talk about more later). In fact, I almost wanted to just forget this whole thing. But I saw Nate’s article and I admired how he opened up about a situation that was painful to him and it made me realize it’d be a good thing to talk about choosing wisely, even if just to get it off my chest. Likewise, if this gives heart to even one other writer out there, I’ll be happy.