Let me explain to you this murdered pomegranate, in a roundabout way. Some years ago, you see, I wrote a story –
No. Starting over.
Many years ago, I began a story. Then I got stuck, so I stopped.
About four years ago, I finished it.
(This is the way I write. It works, okay?)
It sat on my hard drive until a couple of months ago, because when it comes to submitting things to publishers, I am lazy, lazy, lazy. (Though perhaps not as lazy as John Scalzi.)
Actually, while there really is no excuse for letting it sit around for four years, submitting this particular story wasn’t as easy as formatting it and emailing it off to an editor. This story happens to be a novella of 21,200 words, which is the most awkward length for a piece of fiction. Magazines and online zines generally want pieces in the 500-6,000 word range. A novel starts at 90,000 or 100,000 words. You see the problem, I trust.
So when I finally buckled down and did the research, late last year, I discovered that there were three venues that might possibly print a novella of 21,000+ words. The first was a professional online zine that said they were interested in stories “of any length.” I submitted. They wrote back (promptly, at least) and said that it was too long: their word count cutoff is 20,000 words.
I’m not going to say who they are because I’m peeved at them, and I always consider it a good policy not to be peeved in public. But. If your maximum word count is X, say it’s X. It’s good for your karma.
Next option was Tor.com. Wow, they pay a lot. About five times the going rate, in fact.
And, not surprisingly, they have a reading backlog stretching into years. So I might submit my story, and they might reject it – two years from now. In the meantime my story would still be sitting on my hard drive, because I couldn’t submit it to anyone else while waiting. Thanksbutnothanks.
Submitted to option third and last: the major (only?) fantasy fiction magazine available in actual bookstores. They require paper submissions. Wow. I bet they insist on that to cut down on the number of random people who send in Robert Jordan knock-offs. I can’t argue that that’s probably a good idea.
But, ow. 21,200 words in manuscript format is a lot of paper.
I’m not embarrassed to say that they rejected it. It was not really the right style for the magazine, and I knew that. It was just…you know…the only option. And there was no harm in trying.
Except to the trees I killed printing off that manuscript. Ahem.
So now I had a novella with no more options. But the thing is, I really quite like it. (I’m not one of those authors who always hates their own work. I wrote it for myself to start with; if I don’t like it, something’s seriously wrong.) Given that, I think that probably some other people might like it too. I want to share it, not have it to sit around on my hard drive for another four or forty years.
Therefore: I spent most of my day today taking photos of pomegranates.
Oops. That doesn’t really explain it at all, does it? It’s getting rather late here. Better come back soon for Part II.
Until then…have some fruit!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it!