Writing is important; just as important is exposing your work to light. The act of writing is an end in itself: it releases the natural creativity we all have. I always say that I never know how I feel about something until I’ve written about it. Writing organises your thought. But it need not be the end of the process.
Submit your work to markets to find like minds. Too man writers (especially, given our unequal societies, female writers) live in terror of having their work assessed by editors and publishers. If you have a tendency to keep revising over and over and over, you may be avoiding that important step.
Screw your courage to the sticking place and submit your work. Yes, you’ll get rejections. They won’t kill you, trust me. How many things can you succeed at the first time you do it? Nothing worth doing. Toughen your skin and pay attention to any feedback you get.
There seem to be largely two groups of would-be writers: those with an inflated sense of their ability and those with no confidence in their ability. I’m not really bothered about the first kind (they’ll take care of themselves); if you’re the second kind, you need to get in the habit of submitting, getting rejections, and resubmitting after revisions or better market research.
I just finished making the final selection of stories for Fox Spirit Books‘ Noir Carnival anthology. I had a number of stories rejected because they were not at all noir, though they may have featured a carnival of some kind. Editors have rules for a reason, so remember:
Read submissions guidelines. This should be part of your research for markets in the first place! Know what the editor’s actually looking for and the nature of the publication. If you’re submitting a traditional horror story to a market that prides themselves on being ‘edgy’ you’re likely to get a rejection. Find the market that welcomes your work.
Follow submission guidelines, including format, word count, and file type. They are there for all kinds of reasons; failure to follow them may lead to immediate rejection by an editor whose patience has been tried.
Get back to work writing new things. Don’t sit waiting for a reply. Get on to the next thing. Always be writing! Good editors will do their best to work through submissions in a timely manner, but there are often circumstances that interfere. Many editors have to juggle other responsibilities just as writers do. If the wait has been longer than the stated likely time period, follow up with a polite email asking for an update.
“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”
― Barbara Kingsolver