Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery
dr_pretentious

It May Not Be Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, But It Is Another Impossible Novella Sale

Black Gate just accepted the novella I spun off from the opening of the Stisele novel. And it's kind of funny how that happened.

"The War of the Wheat Berry Year," a very short story that was the first thing I wrote from Stisele's point of view, was my first-ever professional fiction sale. Once I revised it to John O'Neill's specifications (a long process I enjoyed and learned a great deal from), he asked if I had anything else he might look at. I sent him two pieces, the shorter of which wasn't a good fit for Black Gate. I thought he was turning down both of them, so I started shopping them both around to other markets while I picked over the massive trunk manuscript of the Big Book, looking for chapters I might tailor for Black Gate without too much tweaking.

But then Drollerie Press picked up the Rugosa Coven series, so I put the epic fantasy stuff aside, and only poked at any of it from time to time to keep the finished pieces circulating.

A year later, "The Imlen Bastard" had accumulated something like half a dozen rejection letters, all of the same type: We really liked this, but it's a problematic length for us right now. If you write something short, we'd love to see it. Yeah, I get that a lot. I get that so often, people tend to tell me it'll be impossible to sell things. Closing Arguments was supposed to be impossible, at 37,000 words, and Atlantis Cranks was supposed to be impossible at 25,000. Various people had looked at "The Imlen Bastard" and told me it would never sell at 17,000 words, but by then I'd already sold longer novellas than that, so I didn't give up.

Yet this isn't a story of heroic perseverance, because the magazine that bought "The Imlen Bastard" turns out to be the first one I ever sent it to. Apparently John O'Neill had never intended to reject both of those pieces, just the shorter one. "The Imlen Bastard" sat in his to-be-read-real-soon pile of novel excerpts for a year, and the moment he got a chance to look at it, he accepted it with only a few line-edits. The acceptance arrived while I was watching the calendar, waiting for the next open reading period at another magazine to start so I could send the manuscript out again.

So hooray for all those rejections, because the whole time, I thought Black Gate was the right home for the piece. It won't be the largest check I've ever received for a story, and the issue the story's slated to appear in is sometime in 2011, but that's okay. Stisele will be following up her debut with the right audience.
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