Results of the March Buttontapper Challenge

This month I challenged myself to submit a piece of short fiction to at least one outlet every day. Some days I submitted to more than one outlet, but even on days that I’ve felt low, I’m happy to report that I haven’t missed a single day!

Here is the full list of publications that I’ve sent stories to this month:

  1. Barely South Review
  2. Little Patuxent Review
  3. Cheat River Review
  4. MOJO
  5. ROOM
  6. The Spectacle
  7. Jet Fuel Review
  8. Southword
  9. Book XI: A Journal of Literary Philosophy
  10. American Chordata
  11. Hot Metal Bridge
  12. Gordon Square Review
  13. Levee
  14. Lumina Fiction Contest
  15. The Fifth Plinth
  16. Gasher
  17. Salt Hill Journal
  18. Panoplyzine
  19. Atlas & Alice
  20. Saint Katherine Review
  21. Meow Meow Pow Pow
  22. Mutiny!
  23. SmokeLong Quarterly (4)
  24. Flash Fiction Magazine
  25. Threepenny Review (8)
  26. Minola Review
  27. The Penn Review
  28. The People’s Preservatory
  29. Delmarva Review
  30. The Canopy Review
  31. Barnhouse
  32. Minnesota Review
  33. The William & Mary Review
  34. Bridge Eight
  35. Journal of Compressed Creative Arts (5)
  36. The Tangerine
  37. The Moth
  38. The Dublin Review
  39. Crannóg
  40. Banshee
  41. Matador Review
  42. Planet
  43. Cream City Review
  44. Puerto del Sol
  45. Bad Nudes
  46. Translunar Travelers Lounge
  47. Ghost Proposal
  48. Hot Flash Fiction
  49. Anastamos
  50. Blue Moon
  51. Whiskey Island
  52. Okay Donkey
  53. Quarter After Eight
  54. Bending Genres
  55. Pithead Chapel
  56. Alban Lake Publishing (Drabble contest)
  57. The Finger
  58. Oxford Magazine
  59. Gutter
  60. Canthius
  61. Raconteur
  62. Harpur Palate
  63. Adelaide
  64. Lunch Ticket
  65. A Public Space
  66. Connotation Press
  67. Prime Number Magazine (Press 53)
  68. Otis Nebula
  69. Gold Man Review
  70. Oyster River Pages
  71. The Hunger
  72. Brilliant Flash Fiction
  73. Storm Cellar
  74. The Sun
  75. The MacGuffin
  76. Ninth Letter (Web edition)
  77. Winter Tangerine
  78. Obra/Artifact
  79. Piece Magazine
  80. Third Point Press
  81. Tin House Online
  82. Apeiron Review
  83. Notre Dame Review

Submission Stats

As of 3 PM today, I’ve received 35 rejections this month, from 20 different publications, and I’ve withdrawn 1 submission.

I have also racked up one acceptance! It was from a new publication called Dirty Girls Magazine, which I highly encourage you to check out. (They are a paying market, and offer $10 upon acceptance.)

I’m still waiting on payment from an erotica outlet that accepted a piece from me back in January. This is a little frustrating because I have asked about their publication schedule several times, and so far they haven’t given me any clue as to when I might expect my piece to be published. This is also frustrating because they only pay upon publication, and since I don’t have any idea when that might be I’ve been waiting until I find out how long it takes for them to publish and pay for a story before I send them any more. (They are also a new market, and only publish to an app – which requires a subscription to read the stories, and they don’t give subscriptions to their authors as part of their payment – which is another issue.)

The total number of submissions I’ve sent out so far this year is 150!

I am still waiting to hear back about submissions I sent in January, so my longest wait time (as of 3/31) is 87 days and counting.

I actually sent out 12 submissions on January 3rd, and only half of those journals have responded, so there are 6 still in my queue at the 87 day mark.

The longest it has taken me to receive a response so far this year has been 87 days.

The shortest time it has taken to receive a response is just 1 day. I’m still torn on whether or not receiving a rejection note this quickly is really a good thing, but at least you know where you stand, right?

I have had 11 different stories rejected by the same journal so far this year, with 8 of those rejections occurring in the month of March alone. I don’t know if I will ever get an acceptance from this particular journal, but I’m going to keep trying.

This brings up an interesting question: Is there such a thing as submitting TOO MUCH? Specifically, to the same publication? I always figure that if they’re sick of seeing my name in their inbox, they will let me know – in no uncertain terms – that I need to lay off the submissions for a while. (Indeed, one of the journals I sent a few pieces to did this in a subtle way, removing the “feel free to submit again” lines from their form rejection letter.) If they don’t mention something like “if rejected, please wait X many days/weeks/months before trying again,” I usually assume I am free to submit as much work as I like (following the typical guidelines that indicate “only submit one piece at a time, and wait until you hear back from us before submitting another”) until their submissions window closes. But is there some kind of unwritten rule about this kind of thing?

I guess this is just one of the many mysteries of submitting short stories for publication. Especially flash fiction, which can be read and rejected in a few minutes.

Tracking Submissions

I have a few different ways that I’ve been tracking my submissions. This may sound like overkill, but I like to keep my own records because I noticed there’s at least one journal I submit to that doesn’t use Submittable, and doesn’t include the name of the story you submitted anywhere in their form rejection letters, which makes it really hard to keep track of what you sent them!

So, here’s my method:

  1. Submit story.
  2. Add the name of the story you submitted, the name of the market, and the date you sent it to your Google Sheet.
  3. Add your submission to the Submission Grinder (if the market is listed there; some aren’t), to keep track of various stats.
  4. Add your submission to your paper log (I’m keeping a binder full of items related to my writing work, and have a section dedicated to submissions) so you can flip through and see what you sent to whom and when.
  5. Wait until you hear back from these outlets, and record your acceptance or rejection on each tracker.

Like I said, it’s probably overkill, but there’s a method to my madness. I was going to just record everything in my paper log, because it feels like an accomplishment logging everything by hand, but it’s so much easier to view everything in a Google Sheet in case I want to sort by submissions instead of markets or dates sent. I was going to rely on the Submission Grinder, because it’s free and they offer stats for how long your submissions have been out as compared to other writers tracking their pieces within the system, but they don’t list all the markets I’ve submitted to, so some pieces would still be going untracked. So this mix of three different systems seems to get the job done.

In Conclusion…

That was my month-long experiment in sending out short fiction to various literary journals, with a goal of one submission per day. While I do plan to keep on submitting pieces throughout the rest of the year, I’m not sure whether I will stick to the same pace of “a submission per day.” Instead, I might experiment with designating certain days of the week as my “submission days,” so I can batch tasks together, which seems a bit more efficient, especially when it comes to finding and researching new markets. Although it’s great that submissions have gone digital (no more trips to the post office, nor paying for stamps!), writers do still have to do their homework: going through individual markets’ submission guidelines, studying some of their previously published pieces in order to decide which of their own stories might be a good match, formatting pieces to the stated guidelines, and adding in any additional info that market requests before finally hitting “send.”

If you’re sending out pieces for publication, too, play along with the hashtag #SubmitYourWork on Twitter or Instagram!