First Submission, First Response
I mentioned in my first post that I started this blog because I was trying to get some of my work published and I couldn’t think of any reason why someone would be interested in me as a total unknown. Well I think it’s time to go into more detail about that.
There’s a certain online gaming magazine that I read regularly. I’d tell you the name, but I’m not sure whether it would be appropriate to share it at this time. What’s more important is that they accept pitches from the public for feature article submissions. There are not many magazines, online or not, who openly welcome submissions from random strangers. What’s more, I’d read the feature articles on this website and they were right up my alley. I’m not the most up to date or informed when it comes to gaming news (or games in general: being cheap I tend to wait until games go on sale before buying them), but their articles often dealt with games that were five, ten, twenty years old. The only requirement seemed to be that they be interesting, and have something new to say. It seemed like my best chance to get something published. I just needed an idea.
After a week or two I found one. I was playing my favorite browser game, Echo Bazaar when something happened that really touched me. The game inspired an emotion, and whenever something inspires a strong emotion in you it’s worth writing about. This was what I needed. I banged out a 1,500 word rough draft about it. I spent two days polishing it up, sending it to a couple of my friends whose opinions I valued and who happened to be on Facebook. They liked it, which was encouraging. I was ready to send it in.
It was at that point I found out that they don’t want people to send in complete articles. They want a pitch first, and only if they’re interested will they ask for something written up. I felt sheepish: I’d sweated over this article and there was a decent chance they wouldn’t even want to look at it. I started writing up a pitch explaining my article in detail, but I was (thankfully) distracted by dinner. I needed the break to think: I realized that I had to be just as careful about writing the pitch as I had been about writing the article. This would be the real test: if I sounded boring and insipid in my pitch they wouldn’t even be interested in reading the article. So I ended up spending a whole day working over my pitch to make sure it was perfect. With some trepidation I hit “send” and let it out of my hands. There was nothing I could do now but wait.
I took me two and a half weeks to get a reply. After the first week passed I began to worry. After the second I started to wonder if I’d sent it to the right address. In the last few days I’d practically given up on even receiving a rejection letter. But finally it came. The reply contained good news and bad news: they liked my article idea, but they’ve had too many features about Echo Bazaar recently and they really didn’t need another. Still, since I had already written it up, they were willing to take a look.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Immediately I reread my article, searching for any minor imperfection. I changed a few sentences, thinned out a paragraph that was too wordy, added some parentheses, and started to wish I had time for a complete rewrite. Despairing at my chances I reluctantly sent it in.
After I sent it I began to relax. It was out of my hands now. Besides, even if they rejected it they’ll have read some of my work. They might be more likely to accept a pitch from me in the future.
I had to wait over the weekend to get a response, which arrived Monday. It was the most optimistic rejection letter I’ve ever received (actually, it’s the only rejection letter I’ve ever received, so I guess it’s also the most pessimistic as well). They’d already written too many articles about Echo Bazaar and too many others with themes similar to my article, so they didn’t want mine. The good news was that they liked my writing and encouraged me to pitch again.
So. I’m not a published writer yet. But I just might be a little closer. As for the article in question, I’m going to look around some more to see if any other websites or print magazines might be interested. If I can’t find anything I’ll post it here for you all to gawk at. I never thought a rejection letter could make me feel so good.