I actually have several questions. I recently completed my first story, written with the intent of sending it to a publisher. It was just a little over 2000 words. I was initially going to send it to Analog, because I was more familiar with that magazine. I went to Duotrope and read the profile that stated it was more "gadget" orientated. My story was more of a "social-issue" story within a sci-fi context. I read Asimov's profile and it seemed more suited - so that's where it went. I sent it on Aug. 15, and I'm not too concerned, just a little anxious (as in anxiety).
Question 1 - How long does a typical rejection or acceptance take? Question 2 - How accurate would anyone say those "profiles" are? Question 3 - Should I ever contact them, and if so how long should I wait?
And yes, I did send a self-addressed envelope. I screwed up by using Times New Roman, and I didn't format the first page correctly - I know now.
[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited September 10, 2008).]
Asimov's and Interzone turned down my first story within six weeks. Analog are taking a little longer, I think, and I'm trying not to hope that's good.
I don't think any profile can be truly accurate. There's a large element of taste, of how they perceive readers' tastes to be changing, and what they're looking for to balance an issue of the mag. For example, if Analog have several near-future dystopian stories for the next few issues, they're very unlikely to buy mine too, and will probably be looking for something different, more cheerful perhaps.
If you went to Duotrope then surely you saw that it keeps detailed statistics on responses, showing average times for each market, longest responses, how many responses are still outstanding, etc etc etc.
For the record, though:
Accuracy We have received 148 reports within the past 12 months, not including 25 pending responses (with an avg. wait of 45 days). The more responses reported, the more accurate the info. Rejections are often underreported, which skews the statistics in favor of acceptances. Most markets have a lower acceptance rate than indicated here. Days Reported 7 | 41.7 | 233 (min | avg | max) Responses (98%) Acceptances: 4.1% (50.8 days avg. per acceptance) Rejections: 93.2% (38.5 days avg. per rejection) | 37.7% personal, 42.8% form, 19.6% unspecified Rewrite Requests: 0.7% (35 days avg. per rewrite request) Non-Responses (2%) Assumed Rejections: 1.4% (190 days avg. per assumed rejection without response) Author Withdrawals: 0.7% (132 days avg. per withdrawal by author)
The percentages against the total number actually allow you to work out precise figures - e.g. there was one author withdrawal reported, and two assumed rejections, and six acceptances out of those 148 reports. The fact that there are 25 pending responses with an average of 45 days outstanding implies that they are a little bit behind at the moment, since they average 41.7 days to respond. Note that they are one of the markets that take longer to accept than to reject, so going over the average MAY be a good sign (there are markets that accept quickly but hold rejections back for longer; I suspect this is to deliberately slow down the rate fo submissions they get). But if you subbed less than a month ago then you shouldn't expect to hear for a week or three yet.
There is no standard for pro market response times, any more than there is for semi-pro or other markets. A market's response times will be determined by the number of submissions they get, the number of slush readers they have, the editorial policy about handling that slush (single vs multiple readers, multiple stages of reading, etc etc).
I use Duotrope for every sub (unless a market isn't listed there, and that has happened precisely once out of over 200 subs) - I belive it's a great resource and the more people who use it, the more accurate it gets.
As of my last submitted story last year, F & SF took eight days to send it back, whereas Asimov's took forty days. The time before, the year before that, F & SF took fourteen days whereas Asimov's took one hundred fifty.
(Maybe that story was better...I wouldn't know...I got form letters all four times.)
Over the recent years, Asimov's has consistently taken longer than F & SF. I've had other (no longer extant) markets sit on a submitted MS for over a year at times..
Wow a hundred and fifty... that's long. So what happens if you send it to someone els,e thinking they forgot about it, and that someone else accepts it, but then Asimov tells you they've accepted it. Do you give them the bad news or do both reject you on the basis that they detest multiple simultaneous submissions?
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You never assume a market has simply fogotten your submission.
When you believe that it is worthwhile (and you have to judge this, ideally using Duotrope as an indicator) you send a query to the market. You wait a shortish while. You may receive a response saying they are still considering your story. You may receive a resopnse saying they never got your story, in which case you send it again. You may receive a response saying they have received your story and rejected it, in which case you may send it elsewhere.
If you do not receive a response to your query (I'd give it a month), then you can legitimately consider that they are just being unhelpful and uncommunicative, and you are free to sub elsewhere. If the original market DOES then come back to you saying they want it, you say "I am very sorry, but as I had received no response to my query of (date), I have subsequently submitted this story elsewhere. However, should the current market reject it, I am more than happy for you to publish the story if you still wish." Ball's then in their court. If they really liked it, they may well be happy to wait. If not, so be it, chalk it up to life.
One note - if you operate whitelists or anything like that, ALWAYS make sure you allow the market to mail you back. In fact, as a writer, I'd very strongly recommend against whitelisting - you can't always be sure what address a response will come from, and nothing annoys an editor more than wanting to buy your story, and having their emails to you bounce back!
I never submit a story to more than one market at a time. I grew up in the days where it was "just print," and the top markets generally had conniptions if they found out you'd sent one story to two of them at the same time. (It was less of an option before computers, when you had one typed copy and a carbon and the Xerox machine was down at the library and expensive.) Even when the story was tied up for a year or more, I never sent it elsewhere---and the several times my main MS was lost, time and perspective told me it wasn't that good to begin with...
And...last time I looked, the big-name markets were still down on the practice...
> If you do not receive a response to your query (I'd give it a > month), then you can legitimately consider that they are just > being unhelpful and uncommunicative, and you are free to sub > elsewhere.
I would not send the story to another market without officially notifying the first market I was withdrawing the story. Then again, I've never had a market not respond to a query within a reasonable time.
Response time on my my two highest-paying sales to pro markets (other than WOTF): 445 days and 366 days. Sometimes it's worth the wait.
I had to wait 18 months on Poisoned Pens' queue. But I did get responses along the way. About 3 months from query I rec'vd request for full manuscript and that I not submit during consideration. Then I had another emial notification about 1 year after original submission with first round of crits and saying I had made it into the bonus round. I was 6th in the queue at that point and it took 6 months from then. Other publishers had a form rejection letter out to me within a month - 6 weeks, sometimes as little as 2 weeks. I'd agree with Eric (above), anytime it has taken longer, it has been good news - your work wasn't immediately thrown back in SASE or junked. The wait drives me crazy, but it doesn't always signal trouble.
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I, like Tchern, use Duotrope often (probably daily). If you want to find out which Pro markets have the quickest response time, you can also do that during the search. On their search page, just like you choose the genre, the pay rate, and the submission type, you can also choose to have the data sorted by Average Response Time (low-high) instead of by Title.
This search yeilds 27 markets, of which the 10 fastest (according to Duotrope data) are:
Postcards From ... Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) Wrong World Eclipse Anthology Series TEMP CLOSED Futurismic Nature Magazine's Futures Feature Jim Baen's Universe TEMP CLOSED Apex Digest On The Premises Strange Horizons
Now, sometimes this is misleading, and you have to follow Tchern's advice regarding the pending subs. Because, I've had something sitting at Postcards from... for 25 days, and since they've gone to quarterly publishing rather than monthly, they have slowed considerably, but this isn't yet reflected in the stats.