I’ve always viewed those gatekeepers as the people against whom I should test myself. When I write a short story, for example, the first thing I do once it’s ready for publication is to submit it to a paying short story market (magazine or anthology). It’s a tried and true method, and although there are factors such as the editor’s tastes and the parameters of that particular market, the editors of such publications are fairly astute. They’ll reject stories that aren’t up to scratch because they’ve just read hundreds of other stories in the slush pile. They see the best and worst stories – and everything in between.