The current publishing process astounds me. In order to get something published, I have to guess what my target publication wants without so much as a hint from me. Or I have to write what I like is good and hope someone else agree.
In all the years I've been in the job market I've never seen anything like that except the publishing world. For most jobs, I have see an explicit job description and determine if I fit. More often than not, that works well.
But in publishing, you see a publisher wants a fantasy story so you write one and send it to them. And they reject it because by fantasy they mean a romantic fantasy or a dark urban fantasy and you wrote a story in the swords and sorcery vein.
I know that I'm suppose to read samples of what a publisher has published but that doesn't help because each story is different. If I suppose if all the stories in a magazine are dark fantasy, I have a story of heroic fantasy then I need not bother to apply. But if a small press hasn't published any epic tales doesn't that mean they won't or that they haven't received any to publish?
Seems to me there has to be a better way of submitting stories and novels. I've seen a few places use a database to be manage the content. That seems like a good way to go. But let me propose another.
Why not use the restaurant method? Get your name on a list and have the editor/publisher work through it. When they reach you, they can ask you for what they are looking for. If you've got something you sent it. If not, then they will check with you the next time through the list.
I have no idea if that approach is even workable but it might let writers and publishers develop a rapport which is sorely lacking from the current process.
Or maybe we should reverse the model. Let writers publish online somewhere private then let the editors and publishers link to us.
Or maybe I've had too much Diet Coke today. Whatever it is, there's got to be a better way.