Fiction File: What a Big Fiction Website Taught Me About Backlogs

First up, you know I’ve gotta say it…

Did you have a great weekend? Good. If not, and you’re a fiction writer, maybe this post can lend a hand.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a for-fiction-writers-only Fiction File.

Let’s get to it.

After a piece of mine (a superhero story) was recently rejected by an online magazine, I wondered where I could send it off to next. I have a list of markets I usually go to, and there are times I try to branch out with my submissions, just to see what’s out there.

But for this one, I chose a market which kinda makes me nervous…you’ll see why in a minute.

This market is one of the biggest and best publishers of science fiction and fantasy stories in the world. And it has an interesting name, too:

Maybe you’ve never heard of it. If you haven’t, but you like science fiction and fantasy stories (like I do), it might be worth checking out.

Anyway, these folks over at Tor take submissions any time of the year (a lot of literary magazines and things run by colleges and other schools usually only take submissions when school’s in–which is a big minus, at least for me).

The Tor folks also pay twenty-five cents a word, for the first 5,000 words.

The website for Science Fiction Writers of America, on their page for membership requirements here, lists professional payment for fiction story writing at 5 cents per word.

So I’d say twenty-five per word is pretty phenomenal.

Last but not least, Tor takes four to six months to respond, on average, to every submission.

Four. To. Six. Months.

Being the best in the world has a tendency to create a backlog. I shudder when I think of how many thousands of pages it would be, if it were all printed out.

Which got me thinking…

If I’m waiting four to six months for a response from…

What do I do during that time?

I need to have my own backlog. And I do–a pile of short story files and what-have-ya I work on when I’m not working on copywriting projects, or anything else.

That way, I won’t be sitting around, wondering/pining/fretting or anything else unproductive. Which doesn’t help anyone, really. Worrying about stuff you can’t control never helped anyone (funny how I keep thinking about that, in reference to my own life).

Which means I need to get cracking on those other stories, as well as marketing what I’ve already written.

What about you? I don’t know how writing fits into your life. If you have a day job doing something else, and writing is just a hobby, that’s fine. The above may not apply. But if writing is your day job, having other projects to switch to is important. I mean that in reference to fiction writing, in this case. Newspaper and magazine folks have things a little different, but I’d say having things constantly on your plate is a similarity.

A writer’s work is seldom done. When the draft for Thing 1 is complete, we move to sketching out Thing 2. And then revising Thing 3 that we worked on three months ago, or what-have-ya.

Drop me a line in the comments about what types of projects you’re juggling right now, and if you think having a backlog of projects and ideas is valuable.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Inspiration, Motivation, Fiction Files, Marketing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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