The Little Story that Couldn’t

I suspect every writer has a story that they really believe in, and try as they might, they can’t seem to sell it to anyone. Mine is a flash story that I wrote about eight years ago, and has had an eventful life making the rounds. It’s actually sold once, but never got published because the magazine “lost it,” and I reclaimed the rights because I had lost faith in that publisher (they “lost” another of my stories, too). It’s been shortlisted or made it through the first cuts at at least a dozen publications, including pro, semi-pro and token markets. It’s gotten kind personal rejections, but in the end has always been passed over as “not quite the right fit.”

It came back again this week, after making it to the final cut again, only to stumble before the finish line.


I know selling fiction is as much finding the right market and editor as it is having a strong story. I once had a story that was among the finalists for the Writer’s of the Future Contest (it didn’t win) that went on to rack up nearly two dozen rejections before finding a nice home in a semi-pro magazine. I’m convinced that success in the publishing game is more about persistence than talent, although talent is certainly important. There are many good stories making the rounds, so don’t get discouraged when your good story comes back with a sorry-but-this-wasn’t-the-right-fit-for-us rejection.

I still believe in this one. I like my little ugly duckling’s spunk and its never-say-die attitude. It’s already headed back out the door to find a home that will allow others to enjoy it as much as I do. I’ll keep sending it out until I run out of markets in which I would be proud to see it appear or I lose faith in it, which I hope never happens. It’s a good story, and I’m confident it will eventually find the right editor who sees it the same as I do.

About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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