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Marketability (1 Viewer)


A little bit ago, I posted a short story in the workshop. It's an older piece of mine, contemporary fiction with a literary hue, written probably six or seven years ago. By now, it's been rejected about a dozen times from markets of different calibers (so to speak). Pro rates, semi pro rates--none of them want it. But what almost every market has in common in this case is that with the majority of rejection letters, I get a note from the editor that says that they enjoyed the piece, that it made it to the final round of consideration, but ultimately, they decided not to publish.

The first couple of times that happened, it was a slight glimmer of hope. Like, hey, it's not a bad story, just maybe it wasn't a good fit for those couple markets. No big deal. Well, I just got another one of those "good story, but..." emails the other day, and it got me to thinking.

Maybe the story just isn't marketable.

I maintain that it's a solid piece. In fact, it's one of my favorites of mine. I posted it here after the latest rejection just to get general thoughts and impressions from a broader audience, but even still, maybe it's just not a piece I'm going to be able to sell. Of all the personal rejections I've gotten with this one, one editor in particular actually gave me a reason why he chose not to buy it:

It's a good read and has some great lines, but there's no one character that has any redeeming qualities. They're all self-admittedly terrible. No redemption on the horizon. In this time of universal dismality, it's a hard, hard sell.

It's definitely a valid criticism of the piece; no arguments here. But it brings me back to this question of marketability. I have a natural tendency towards darker themes and struggle to pull off happy endings without feeling trite, but maybe the current market (given the dumpster fire that is real life in 2020) is looking for a little more hope and happiness than I usually have on offer in my fiction.

For those of us that write with the intention of profiting off our work (however minimally), is this something you consider when you're working through an idea?


WF Veterans
I got an idea in a dream for a fantasy story.

Sad as it may seem writing for hope and dream for science fiction is how I sold a story. I want to do that again. But that will take some time to write since that takes science research which can be expensive for me. This time I want to write a fantasy story which seems compelling to me. I also somehow conceive that that is the case for science fiction. For fantasy I don't know. All dystopian stories and zombie ones seem to be dead. Imo that was the truth I glimpsed after rejection no matter how bright the writing is. Even after dictating the story and( even after running it for grammarly which I got December the 3rd) I doubt my dystopia will get accepted. I have a twist ending in mind but I think pessimism seems to be disliked by the publishing magazines. I am cynical and think if I put the last ending since I made it into horror and science fiction to sell it to more markets. I am going to stop writing dystopia for the time being and zombies.

I will have to follow the trends.

My latest hope punk and dream story has been submitted. I only noticed some mistakes. Days later after I got felt that I made two mistakes. Some wording is off in just two sentences ( I read it outloud). The short story market is difficult to get published in so don't be discouraged.

As I expect others will see it. The new story I had a dream about that is fantasy is too original I think. I wrote it all down as soon as I woke up this morning. That may be a good thing or a bad thing. It hasn't been written just that I noticed lots of conflicts.

Luckyscar's trends list might not be far off on what magazine submissions want. I don't know about agents.

Also there are many markets. I submitted to a journal on science fiction that usually doesn't do science fiction. That's one I hope I get accepted into for high pay. This is hope punk for science fiction and is one of my favorites. But I have no idea whether it will work for them.

I will try to write cyber punk for science fiction. If I can think of an ecological angle I will try to put it in.
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Staff member
I think this thread got short shrift ... possibly lost in the week between major holidays. :)

My answer: Yes and No?

I start out writing a story that interests me, and while they are stories which in general might be familiar to readers (most are anymore), I try to give it a twist to make it unique. I certainly want to give it a chance to be popular with genre fans, but I don't include anything specific to bolt it to such a goal. I tell the story that interests and entertains me, and I hope I'm not alone when I enjoy the end product.