SASE (Self-Aggrandizing Submission Envy)

Spies use mailboxes, don’t they? Photo at Wikipedia.

Back when I was trying to break into comics as a writer, I submitted several pitches. This was back in the day before the Big Two (that’s Marvel and DC for those who don’t know) closed down their slushpiles. I got very nice rejection letters from DC and I have them around here somewhere. One from another smaller publisher even offered some feedback that was very helpful.

I had a relationship with one small publisher and one editor (each at different places) and got very nice emails that were terribly encouraging though both passed on the projects. I was encouraged. I should give them credit for me still wanting to be creative even though I had put my heart and soul into the projects I submitted. They told me I was good enough but the stories weren’t what they published. Sigh.

Esquire magazine opened submissions for a contest and I sent a story there, which also got turned down. It was at that point that I decided to self-publish some short stories. I established my website and off I went.

Nowadays, my submissions are to the publisher of the Evolver series. (There’s a second series in the works, but it hasn’t been announced yet. Hopefully that will happen soon.) Recently I sent in a draft of one book and an outline for another. As the song goes, the waiting is the hardest part.

I have a plan to submit my novel when it’s ready. I know exactly where I want to send it and I’m working hard to get to that end.

As far as having the guts to submit short stories elsewhere, I just haven’t done it yet. Every time I get ready to start working on that, something has gotten in the way. Work, life, whatever. My real hangup has been just researching the damn markets and trying to figure out where my stories fit. I’ve claimed on my website that I write science fiction, suspense, supernatural, and fantasy stories but very few fit neatly into one category. Often, my stories straddle one or more of the genres I claim to write in. At least I think so.

It was only recently that I figured out that my SF novel fits into the subgenre called Space Opera. Jeez, that’s gonna be problematic. SO has a questionable reputation despite being the most popular form of SF out there. My story (along with others I have that are shorter) isn’t as epic as Star Wars and probably won’t have the same appeal as something like Firefly or Ender’s Game. Doesn’t matter though.

I’m pretty happy to have finally figured out the subgenre. I think that’s really been my problem all along. No one’s told me my stuff is what it is, I’ve had to discover that for myself. I’ve always said a story is a story regardless of genre. Historical fiction is easy to spot, and sometimes science fiction is easy to spot but not always. (I think Inception is a terrific SF thriller but I’m not sure a lot of people figured out it was SF. Also something like The Boys From Brazil is really SF, but people focus on the thriller aspect of it because – well, because SF is the purview of teenaged boys, I suppose. I digress…)

Regardless, this all-over-the-place-ramble of a post is supposed to put a fine point on submissions. I haven’t sent my stories away a lot. I should because I’m ready and I’m getting that thick skin developed. It’s fear that’s held me back, to be honest. However, now that I’m comfortable with where my stories fall in terms of genre, I’ll be going to the mailbox a lot more often.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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