John Floyd's blog post at SleuthSayers.org, "Now, That's a Different Story," posed the questions "Do you always have certain markets in mind when you craft your stories? Do you write them and only then think of where they might be sent?"
I responded to John's question in the comments secetion following his post, but thought the response might be appropriate to duplicate here:
Much of my short crime fiction has appeared in non-mystery publications. Unfortunately, many of those publications have disappeared or have reduced the amount of fiction they publish.
For several years (details in the guest post I wrote for you a while back), nearly every piece of fiction I wrote was for a specific market, either by invitation of an editor, or to fit a specific call for submission, or because the editor had previously purchased several stories from me.
That changed a bit early last year for two reasons: 1) Publishing was shifting, causing some of my regular markets to dry up, and 2) I had several unfinished stories for which there was no obvious market.
I'm still writing most of my short fiction for specific markets, but I've also been finishing those unfinished stories that have no obvious markets. I've learned two things from doing this: 1) Some of the joy of writing has returned because I am not constrained by market limitations, and 2) My ratio of submissions to sales is turning to shit.
I'm writing in genres I've not touched in several years, submitting to editors and publications with which I have no pre-existing connections, and I'm back to the tried-and-true submission process of best market first and work down. This is a humbling experience. While I've received a few incredibly nice rejection letters of the "almost, but not quite" variety, I've also received a fair number of form rejections. And I'm not accustomed to seeing form rejections.
What's that Chumbawumba song? I get knocked down, but I get up again. That's what writers with long careers do.