Duotrope for the win, and other submissions stuff

December 31, 2010

So, one of the items I mentioned on my December goals list was ‘submit two short stories to publishers,’ and I’ve been putting that off. So I finally sat down to do it this afternoon after I got home from work, and I remembered that Elizabeth Twist had mentioned something about a new way to find markets in the Hamilton Nanowrimo lounge. (As well as Ralan, which may be very complete, but just always makes my eyes hurt to spend much time on.)

So – Duotrope! This is a very nifty little writer’s market site, with a submission tracker that lets you state where you’ve submitted what stories, what the response was and how long it took – and a search engine that lets you say what kind of story you’re looking for a market for and it comes back with a list of possibilities. The two of them are integrated, as well, so that you can tell the search engine to order results based on a good acceptance rate or quick response time, and it’ll use stats from other writer’s trackers to give you those results. Very cool.

I submitted the new rewrites of “The Landing” and “Wolves of Wyoming” to places with decent acceptance rates, and spent some time working on getting the formatting right for each of them. And then I came upon something else – this little article at sfwa about the proper way to calculate a word count.

Now, there’s some very good points to this. It makes sense to me that the ‘word count’ that an editor would be interested in would have very little to do with words as we understand them, but more with the characters/6 metric that they were using since back before there were computerized word counters. I hadn’t thought of the extra fudge factor designed to take account for short lines of dialog and estimate how many lines worth the text will cover – though of course that metric will vary based on how many characters per line you can fit in with your font and margins.

The ridiculous thing, to me, is the notion that we should still have to tote this magic number up by hand in the 21st century!

It seems like it should be possible to get an MSword macro to do all the logic for me – but I’m not quite sure if it can actually be done or how, because you’d need to make MSword VBA aware of the way the text is actually broken up into lines on the page. Is there actually some function or property for that?

Happy New year, everybody, and wishing us all great creative energy and focus (not to mention plenty of time,) in 2011.

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