Subbing to magazines is simple and straight forward. Write a (good) story, edit until it's a perfect copy, choose a magazine to send it to. Write a simple, straight forward cover letter. Submit both, either online or in hard copy. Wait. Receive either a rejection letter or a note that it's been accepted. If it's been rejected, resubmit it to someone else. Wash, rinse, repeat until the story's been accepted. I've been dabbling in this for about six years with measured, ever improving success. During 2006-2007, I've concentrated on Troubled Waters so I've only written one short story, but subbed three (two older works obviously) and sold all three of them. However there were only five or six rejections. The story I wrote this year was accepted on its first trip out. Not a bad ratio, really. I intend to write more short fiction during the coming year(not working will help a lot), but, comparitively speaking, and with respect to publishing, not the market, writing and subbing short stories is a bit like learning to swim in the shallow end of the pool.
But this end of the business, the part that deals in query letters and agents and synopsis(es?) and--hopefully--requests for partials, is a whole lot deeper and a whole lot less forgving of beginners' mistakes. I've been standing at the edge of this end of the dark, murky pool for a couple of years (Warning! There be beasties in yon waters) waiting for it to look easier, or to feel more confident, or for some bright light in the distant depths. As no light appears to be forthcoming, I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be, and I might as well start with the current work, perfect or not.
Meanwhile, I've been chipping away at writing the Troubled Waters' synopsis, with the thought in mind that if I master that, then writing the query letter shouldn't be as hard. Condensing 88,000 words into a single paragraph is nothing short of a huge headache (What to leave out, what to put in. Is that statement specific enough? Does it tell the story with enough detail to make it interesting?). I think I'm close, though.
Also, I've begun searching out agents to query and have exactly found one so far that I not only like, but looks like a good fit. I think she might represent work that's a good deal darker than mine, but I'm still researching the other writers she represents.
My goal is to find and query at least five agents at the same time and she's only one, so I've got to keep searching.
As for now, it's off to the races. I've got a long day ahead, and an even longer week. I'm planning one last Annual Banquet this week. I'll be glad when it's over.