“Unfortunately your story isn’t quite a right fit” – Every publisher I’ve met.

This morning, I received word from a speculative fiction press that my short story for an anthology is “not the right fit.” While I knew deep down it was a long shot to secure a paid gig from a publisher, it doesn’t hurt to try, does it? Well, actually, it does. It hurts every time I’m told no by someone I’m hoping will publish my writing.

Essentially, I am a 4-star author, with my self-published works garnering more 4 and 5-star ratings than not. I mean, come on… Stephen King has a higher percentage of 1-2 stars than I do. Oh well. And yes, I am aware that even the best authors face rejection before making a name for themselves; there’s no need to preach to the choir. I know. Nonetheless, it still hurts when that rejection letter arrives.

In my job and personal life, I come across both supportive and unsupportive people. The unsupportive individuals consistently criticize my writing ability and claim that I lack proficiency in proper English. Interestingly, they are also the ones who disregard the use of the Oxford comma and start Excel sheets a few rows or columns down. Ultimately, their opinions carry no significance except for the moments when I face rejection from a publisher, and their voices resound in my head.

The piece I submitted was a proposal for an anthology called “After Tomorrow.” It is a short story set in a post-apocalyptic world within the horror and dark fiction genre. The story revolves around a religious takeover, similar to what is depicted in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It follows the survival journey of an ex-convict who escapes from prison during the takeover and tries to make her way back to her safe homeland, evading the newly formed secessionist nation. Along the way, she reunites with her former girlfriend, who assists her in her escape. While it doesn’t result in a happily ever after for the couple, there are some poignant moments. Since the story is kept short, I didn’t delve extensively into the romantic relationship between the characters.

I believe the story has great potential, and although it worked well as a short story, it could easily be adapted into a novella or novel. The rejection actually presents an opportunity for me to dive into a complete rewrite and enhance the story. While my initial intention wasn’t to venture into speculative fiction and post-apocalyptic worlds, I can now focus more on the challenges faced by the characters and the intricacies of their relationship. With the rejection and the realization that it wasn’t the right fit, I can now explore these elements in greater depth.

I find myself clinging to the hope of being accepted by a publisher. My wife suggests that I should find an agent to submit my work to publishing houses, although I never see myself as skilled enough for that. That doubt stems from my lack of self-confidence. Self-publishing may be easier, but it isn’t currently providing the financial stability I need. Let me focus on my writing… Is there anyone willing to take charge of the business side of things and help me achieve financial success? I’d be willing to split the profits and make a million together!

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