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"Writing Lots 2: Submitting Lots" by Dawn Vogel

Hi, I'm Dawn, and I'm back to talk about submitting stories and poems, and how I have such high numbers of submissions.

First off, as I talked about previously, I write a lot, which means I have a lot of stories that can be submitted at any given time. A lot of what I do to keep my submissions numbers high is juggle the stories, so they go to the right markets in the right order. Obviously, I'd love to have all my stories sell at pro-paying markets. Failing that, there are excellent semi-pro markets that would also be great homes for my stories.

The trick for me is to make sure to keep current on sending out stories to markets, and not let a huge backlog accumulate. In my world, that means that in the morning, I go through my inbox to see what stories have been rejected while I slept. If there are any there, I try to find a new market to send them to in the morning, before my workday starts. There are some days when either I can't find a good market to send a specific story to, or when I don't have time to do any submissions in the morning. In those cases, I let stuff roll to the next day, but I try to do that as rarely as possible, lest I wind up staring down the barrel of ten stories to find homes for all on the same day.

I make use of an extensive, multi-page spreadsheet to keep track of my stories and where they need to go next, among other things. Honestly, this spreadsheet is my secondary brain, and it is, I think, a key reason on why I can keep everything as organized as I do, which is also key to juggling as many submissions as I have. I also use both Duotrope (a paid site) and The Submission Grinder (free) to track my submissions, which help me keep track of what stories have been out for a long time and might need a query sent out to check on them.

The second part of keeping a lot of submissions out is planning. I track limited submission windows and special anthology calls that interest me, again, on this massive spreadsheet. By keeping track of these things, I can make sure that I've got something in mind to send out when a limited window opens, whether it's something I've already written or something new.

I find a lot of information about open submission windows through social media--Facebook groups and people or magazines I follow on Twitter, in particular--but I also check the websites for markets I know to have limited windows, and check Duotrope's calendar function to find other markets. I also get a few tips through other online writing communities.

Because of limited windows, I do sometimes sit on a story when it comes back from another market, if I know that I've got a place to send it in a week or even a month. Then I just have to make sure I send it out as soon as I'm able to so that it doesn't sit for any longer than it has to.

Third for me is the reprint markets. I keep track of when the rights on my sold stories revert to me, and once they do, I start sending them out to reprint markets. I've got one entire page of my spreadsheet devoted to markets that take reprints, and I've strategized what stories to send to each of these markets the next time they open to submissions or the next time I don't have another story at that market. For reprints, I'm totally happy with selling them to a token-paying market, because in theory, I've already gotten paid decently well for the first sale of the story, and there's no reason to not keep making money on those stories if I can!

My fourth and final tactic is the wonderful world of poetry and simultaneous submissions (or sim subs). I didn't get into writing or submitting poetry until recently, because there's a bit of a learning curve to both writing and submitting it. Once I got my feet under me with the writing part, I poked lightly at the submitting part until I realized that this, too, could be more efficiently tracked in my spreadsheet. Most poetry markets allow you to submit a bundle of poems, and most also allow you to submit the poems you've sent them simultaneously to other markets. So again, I made a spreadsheet page to track those markets and their various requirements and such, and then started sending out blocks of poems in earnest.

There are also some fiction markets that allow sim subs for stories, but I tend to do less of that. Juggling the poetry is enough work; trying to juggle short stories as well is a little bit beyond where I am right now. I do occasionally have flash pieces that are sim subs, because the markets for those are a little bit more common, and for flash, often decent paying. But for most short stories and pro-paying markets, it's harder to find markets that allow for sim subs. (And coming from a background as a magazine co-editor, I definitely DON'T break the rules on sim subs--only send them where they're allowed, lest you wind up angering an editor, which is something I don't recommend.)

If you're interested in learning more about any of these things, I've written posts on my blog about submission trackersplanning, reprints, and sim subs that go into each of these things in more detail!

Dawn Vogel's academic background is in history, so it's not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. The final book in her Brass and Glass steampunk adventure trilogy will be out October 22, 2019. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. She lives in Seattle with her husband, author Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @historyneverwas.


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