Many months ago I submitted to an open anthology call. My piece got rejected for the antho, but the senior acquisitions editor asked me some questions. Did I have any other stories? How many? Were they all in the horror/dark fiction genre? Would I consider letting her have a look at them?
I didn't reply right away. I didn't reply for a couple months, for many reasons, none of them reasonable. Laziness. Apathy. An aversion to human interaction. A belief that I lack the knowledge and business acumen to properly navigate such an opportunity. After a lot of dithering, I brought the dilemma to my primary confessor: Spousal Unit.
He called me a coward.
I hate it when he's right.
I replied. I submitted a bunch of stories, and I eventually signed a traditional publishing contract with competitive royalties and no funny business in the fine print. This isn't to say I signed without hesitation. EMP is a small press, a new press, unproven and without an extensive backlist. They could go under tomorrow. But the editor and I share a common desire: to change the landscape of women writing in male dominated genres, and that's what sold me. There's always some element of risk, but this is something I believe in so strongly that I'm thrilled to be taking that plunge with a publisher who walks the walk when it comes to diversity.
Right about now you probably want to tell me to take my feminist rhetoric and go fuck myself because short story collections are notoriously difficult to sell, and I unfairly bypassed all the hard work, heartbreak, and rejection of trying to get mine published. Well, you're right. It isn't fair. I got incredibly lucky.
Then again, these stories are not the product of luck. I do not care to count how many hours I've spent writing. How it started in secret, scrawling stories by hand in the middle of the night while breast-feeding, and carried on in broad daylight consuming more and more of my existence until I finally had to admit I was a writer and open myself to the flood of rejection that comes with the writing life.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know enough about Miss Shields School of Publishing to know that getting something in print is largely out of your hands as a writer. It's all about getting the right story to the right person at the right time. Really all you can do is be stubborn - and as Spousal Unit often points out, I've got that on lock. So write the best stories you can and submit, submit, submit, because accidents do happen.