Today’s writing related question: Your first publication – which market, how you found out about the market, how it felt to finally be published, and how many rejections you racked up along the way.

Well, I figure for the point of this discussion, we’re not talking about letters I got published in comic books or the first story I ever wrote (back in fifth grade). The first three stories I wrote once I started taking my writing seriously—the stories that were published as “Soul Food”, “Nurse’s Requiem”, and “Dark Knight of the Soul”—were originally written as creative writing assignments in college. “Soul Food” will always hold a special place for me because it was the first time a story of mine saw print. But, as will become a common theme in my life, it wasn’t exactly the usual route.

My last year of college, a professor I was working with encouraged me to send out my stories. He suggested this fledgling magazine called Cemetery Dance since it looked like the solid kind of market that would give good exposure. I thanked him for his advice and promptly trunked my stories. A few years later, I dug them back out worked on them some more and thought maybe I ought to send one out. I don’t know how I heard about this market (though I believe it was after I stumbled across a market magazine called Hellnotes), but I screwed together what courage I had and sent “Soul Food” off. A month or two later, the editor called me with an acceptance.

Called me.

New to the game, I figured this was how things worked: editors want your story, they just call you. He told me how much he loved my story and that he looked forward to working with me. I sat in my bed, stunned, and then proceeded to call several friends of mine to share the news. Of course I immediately became insufferable because I was now one for one is submissions and acceptances and figured I was going to corner this writing thing.

Months went by. I didn’t know what came next in the process. We hadn’t discussed payment, no contracts had been signed, no clue when it was coming out or if the editor wanted me to make any changes (though he CALLED me, so my so my words were obviously perfect as they were), so I continued waiting. Well, the anthology comes out … without my story.

I dug out any contact information I had and contacted the editor, all full of righteous indignation (read: on the verge of “why, Lord, why?!?!” tears). Turns out the project originally had two editors and one walked away from the project (guess which one?). My story fell between their communication gap.

Of course that anthology went on to massive sales and critical acclaim, with everyone published in it getting a huge career shot in the arm.

So I send my story off to the next couple of markets, and after one rejection, it got accepted. A start up (and now defunct) magazine called Hoodz. And I got to see my story in print.

Still … published on my third try … two acceptances in three tries … not too bad. I’ve not enjoyed that track record since.