Concealment: Should I Have Used a Pen Name?

guy fawkes mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

It’s too late for me to use this option (probably), but an incident (two, actually) occurred last week that got me to thinking.

I’ve already considered the idea that breaking into science fiction and fantasy as a conservative, religious, white, married, cisgender old man (and if you exist at a particular social and political extreme, all of that means I’m “evil”) might be a waste of time considering how the publishing industry in particular, and entertainment in general seems fairly prejudiced against creators who aren’t leftists and atheists (although I know some leftists who are religious). In science fiction in particular, this was played out in previous years by the Sad Puppies phenomenon, and not too long ago by the Comicsgate movement, which also seems to have gone by the wayside.

But as I mentioned, last week, a person responded to two of my missives on Facebook rather negatively. Normally, I take these things in stride, since “outrage” is something you get used to if you’re not following a popular social media narrative, but this time the person in question was in a position to significantly inhibit my future as an author, at least within a certain realm.

I won’t provide the specifics of this, but I will confess to having my anxiety level rise quite a bit and losing some sleep over it.

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Rejection Newbie

rejection

Found at “The Zweig Letter” – no image credit listed

Hi, James,

[Story Title] was well received here, but we have decided it’s not quite what we’re looking for in the [name of publication/anthology]. Thanks for submitting it to us, and best of luck with finding a good market for it.

[Name of Editor]

Dear James,

Thank you for sending us [Story Title]. We appreciate the chance to review it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Best of luck finding it a home elsewhere.

Things you might consider: The character is nice. The concept is familiar, but here there’s no real explanation of what happens. The backstory comes as something of an infodump.

Sincerely
[Name of Editor]

I’ve submitted eight short stories to various anthologies and periodicals during the month of April. The two quotes from above were emails I received from two separate sources rejecting…the same story.

That’s right. The same exact story was rejected twice within 24 hours.

To be fair, after I submitted it the first time, I waited weeks, and the response was actually very timely. I was waiting for a rejection of something. If you’re an author and you are sending in stories in response to an open submission, either it will be accepted or rejected. Rejection is inevitable.

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