Dirty Market Thoughts

I finally mailed off a short story yesterday that I finished more than two months ago. This is the longest I’ve ever let a story sit on my hard drive and it got me thinking about why.

I originally wrote it with one market in mind and I sent it to that editor right after the story was done and he rejected it, fine. But then the question came of where to send it next. In the past I used to send every story I wrote first to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and then to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. These are the biggest names in the field and I always like the idea of aiming as high as possible on the first try. So I thought about that with this story. It’s a good story but I don’t know if it’s great enough for AH or EQ. I do know it’s infinitely better than almost all of the other stories I sent them, so why was I hesitating with this one?

And then something else happened.

I read about a new anthology that had just been sold and I had a great idea for a short story that would be perfect for the anthology so I jumped right in and got to work. But the story froze up on me about a thousand words in. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was having trouble writing that story for the same reason I was having trouble sending out the other one. And it was a question of markets.

I started work on both stories for specific markets. After the first one was rejected I couldn’t think of any other place to send it. I’ve tapped most of the online markets out there and I’ve been itching to crack the top markets now or get myself in one of the anthologies. So the same question goes for this new story. If it’s rejected from the anthology, what happens to it next? It’s a very specific theme and I’m not sure it would fit many other markets. Should I still finish the story and figure out what to do with it later? Or should I only write stories I know I can market to many places?

Finally I decided I had to try. I’d kick myself if I didn’t and I won’t know for sure those stories will be rejected until I have the rejection note in hand. So I sent the one story off to EQMM and I went to work on the other story and actually found some inspiration in it.

Have you guys ever abandoned a story because you didn’t think you could sell it anywhere?