I’ve recently had the pleasure of finishing a story that I’ve been working on for the past year, and also of opening a package containing the latest issue of Misfit magazine – with my story ‘One More Time’ inside it. The whole magazine looks beautiful, and I’m thrilled to hold it in my hands it after a long period of anticipation.
If you’re not a short story writer or closely associated with the publishing business, you’re probably unaware of the potential gap between completing a story and receiving the finished product. It’s not only novels which can be years and years in the making. I thought I’d outline the general steps below, for those who are interested.
Fairly self-explanatory. Time-wise, I can finish a 1,500 word piece in just one day. A 4,500 word piece will take me about 3 months. A 9,500 piece will take me a year. It’s not like this for everyone, obviously (and also suggests I’m better off writing shorter stories, but the longer ones tend to be more satisfying).
2. Edits, Part 1
Anything between proofreading, at a minimum, and a full add/delete/reorder scenes and rewriting process. I’m also lucky that my partner is a fantastic editor and can let me know if anything needs fixing, clarifying or I’ve gone author-blind to errors by staring at my words too long.
I use a service called Duotrope.com, which I love. It has a very robust search criteria, which allows you to search thousands of markets by genre, word count, payment, and several other factors to find the perfect home for your story. If I’m very lucky, the first couple of places I submit to accept the story, and I sign a publication contract with them. But it often takes longer than that to find a story a good home. Usually you’re only allowed to sub to one market (per story) at once, and they often take 3-4 months to get back to you, if not much longer. Having your story out to shop can be a very long process.
Eventually, if you’re lucky and your story is a great fit for a market you like, they’ll send you an acceptance. Contract signing and all that goodness. Then several months may pass before:
5. Edits, Part 2
The publication you’ve sold your story to will do some more edits. Sometimes this is minimal, like fixing some typos or grammar you’ve still managed to miss, but it can be much more robust, too. Any changes should be discussed between editor and writer wherever possible.
For a writer, this step just involves waiting. For the publisher, it involves everything from formatting the stories, commissioning artwork, laying out the magazine, ordering printing, etc…
7. Publication & Release
It’s finally done! This whole process tends to be shorter when your stories appear in online publications, but not always. Occasionally I’ve has stories pass through all these stages within four months or so, but I’ve also had stories take more than three years to reach this point. It’s always been worth it!