Well, after much struggle (including trying to revise and rewrite while away from work sick and feverish for two days last week) I managed to complete my reworking of SHIPBREAKER and send it off to the collection this past Friday (turns out they extended the deadline a few days, so I took advantage to go over everything once more).
I think version I have now is much improved from the first draft, and certainly much tighter. The story was 9500 words after my Great Christmas Write-a-thon, and I managed to cut 2100 words during revision (I often find my stories suffer from “first draft-itis”: that peculiar malady resulting in flabbiness due to imprecision of language, description, and plotting).
After hearing from my first readers I’ve added in a new opening sequence to do some world-building for me (which means some of those 2100 words I cut came back in) but the new section is only 850 words, so all-in-all there’s a net edit of 1250 words. At 8300 words the story is still longer than I’d perhaps like it (if only because shorter stories are easier to sell and the editors mentioned on their blog that they’ve been getting a lot of long stories–they’ll accept to 10 000 words), but I don’t think I could cut anything else and keep the tale intact.
The editors may feel differently, of course, and if they like the story enough to ask for rewrites and want me to keeping cutting, well, I’m going to keep cutting 🙂
Competition for this one is going to be stiff, though. I saw this discussion on Jeff VanderMeer’s (the editor’s) blog:
Oddly enough, given the overall quality of what we’ve seen, the number of submissions is relatively small. Maybe 500 total. But I’d have to say that 90% of those are from people with at least one “pro” credit, which might have something to do with the high quality level in relation to the tiny number of submissions.
(He also mentioned that for previous anthologies they’ve seen anywhere from 700 to 5000 submissions. Yikes! Keep in mind most anthologies have 12-17 spots available.)
In another post, Jeff mentioned they’ve accepted stories from Carrie Vaughn, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear, and Kage Baker amongst others. Some of these folks would likely have been invited contributors, but still some very good, very tough competition for those of us writing on spec.