Suddenly realizing that I have dozens of stories just snoozing on my hard disk, I've started sending them out. The last time I did this was in 2003, with no acceptance, and once in 2004 which resulted in success. I looked over my Excel spreadsheet and realized more than half of the ones I sent out got personal rejections. This should have encouraged me, but instead I laid low for two years, maybe because of the hassle, or my own laziness, or maybe out of sullen, grumbling spite, I dunno, but in practical terms, it was stupid. Editors are not going to knock on my door and say, "Whaddya got?"
I'm interested in advice on what has worked for people and what hasn't. Who's had success recently, and how did that come about? Is getting published really a statistical proposition? What methods or schedules of sending stuff out have people come up with? How much time should a writer spend per week? How many simultaneous submissions do you feel safe having out at once? What's your cover letter like? What do you mention, what don't you mention? Even something like: do you staple the manuscript pages together or paperclip them? A few Goats edit journals -- what do you look for? What makes you set it aside immediately? Do you even read the cover letter?
Anything, anything ... I keep stumbling by accident on Goat bylines in magazines, and yet I hear over beers that people don't much bother sending stuff out. How can we all get published more?
Addendum: First, I'm kind of surprised just how many stories got written in the workshop years. And when I open them up now, after letting them lay fallow, what's wrong with them literally jumps out at me, and they're easy to edit. Their stems are visible now, when before I believe I was blinded by their foliage. If you haven't looked at your old stuff in a while, take some time and comb through it. You may be pleasantly surprised.