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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » How Long Do You Wait?

   
Author Topic: How Long Do You Wait?
Meredith
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I've had a short story at one market for over 200 days now. After a reasonable time, I queried to make sure they'd gotten it. Eventually I got a reply that they had. Last I've heard.
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genevive42
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Meredith, what's the market? Have you checked Duotrope to see what the publication's usual response times are? I know there are a few that are outrageously behind.
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Meredith
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Thanks. I hadn't checked Duotrope lately and didn't think of it. According to them, I'm probably just entering the zone.

The market is Tor.com. (Long shot, but if you never try . . .)


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genevive42
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Oh yes, Tor.com is notoriously slow. I have to admit that I don't sub there for that reason. I have heard upwards of 300+ days waiting for a response.
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Nick T
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Hi,

I've also heard Tor.com is notoriously slow.

I currently have a story that's made it past slush at a UK market. It took 6 months to do so and the editor has had it for 4 months so far. I've been told to expect to wait a while for the editor to make a decision.

Nick


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Robert Nowall
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I'd generally go six months or so before a query---though, in all honesty, I just wait it out these days. The markets I send to (usually just the Big Three magazines) haven't sat on anything of mine for that length of time in years.

Of their response times...well, F & SF is the quickest, Analog is a little slower...and Asimov's is much slower.

(I submitted a story to a market in 1975 that I never got back, and never got an answer to the queries I sent. The market no longer exists, and I've moved several times since then...still, I work at the post office, and, occasionally, when you move something, you find a couple of pieces of mail that have been there for months if not years. But I'm not holding my breath.)


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KayTi
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I just queried a tor.com submission, too, that I sent on Oct 15. Their reply indicated they have received it, and that they get to submissions in 6-9 months.

Honestly, this is it for me. I don't think I'm going to sub to the short fiction market anymore. Waiting most of a year to hear back on a story that, BEST CASE, is going to earn me $1250. Sure, sure, I wouldn't kick the cash out of bed, but be honest - is my story what they're looking for? Probably not. It's been rejected elsewhere.

But to wait so long for these decisions, in this day and age? It's starting to make me mad.

I'm epubbing a bunch of my stories right now (working on covers via my friend who is offering that sweet $25/cover deal for writers in Feb.) While it's unlikely that any one short story will get me 1,250 bucks, perhaps through combinations of stories and me building an online reputation for myself they will.

And it satisfies my impatient nature. I might still sub to WOTF, since they do offer reasonable turnarounds (3-4mos is generally the max, though can be longer if you sub at the beginning of a quarter.) But everywhere else and these 90+ day response times? Forget it!


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axeminister
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Send me your story.
Don't send it anywhere else.
I will get back to you in a year.

I hear ya. At least allow multiple subs. That would get folks reading things faster, but since there's no competition. (As they are they only one with your story) Then there's no hurry.

What is $25 per cover? Art of some sort?

Axe


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KayTi
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quote:
What is $25 per cover? Art of some sort?

My friend is designing covers for self-published authors. She's running a special this month, very cool stuff. Her site is The cover counts.

And I think you're right on with your point about multiple subs. I know it's aggravating to track from the publisher's side (I've been a slush reader for flash fiction online since it started) but it's still just ridiculously biased against writers.

If I were a short-story writer as my main thing, it might be one thing to just write enough stories to always have thirty in the mail, but I don't. I've got a dozen or so short stories, but it's not my thing. I'm a YA writer - novels are my thing (not terribly long ones, 50-75k, but much longer than a short story.) I am just getting frustrated with the timelines and pokey pace of traditional publishing.


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djvdakota
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Last Saturday I sat on a panel of editors at LTUE.

One of those editors stated that the publishing industry is in something of a quagmire right now as a result of the economic downturn. Two things have happened to make it so:

1. Most large publishing houses have streamlined by cutting staff, which means double the workload for the remaining staff;

2. Publishing houses are receiving along the lines of twice the usual submissions, probably due to millions of Americans out of work and thinking, 'What the hell. I guess I'll finally write that novel/story I've always dreamed of.'

Combined, we're talking about 4 times the usual workload for editors at major paying publishing houses. No wonder it takes them 9 months to work through the slushpile.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Terminology correction:

Multiple subs = more than one story at a time to the same market.

Simultaneous subs = the same story sent to more than one market at a time--need to be acknowledged in the cover letter.

You need to tell editors if you are sending a story that is also at another market (simultaneous subs), but you don't need to tell them you are sending them more than one story at a time (because they can see that for themselves).


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Meredith
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Finally got the rejection from Tor.com. 249 days. Don't think I'll be submitting there again.

Now, I think I'll go over the story, maybe get some new readers, and then decide what to do with it next.


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Osiris
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I definitely pick who I sub to based on response times on Duotrope. There are plenty of markets with a response time under two months. For example, Daily SF and SF&F is under a month, Strange Horizons, Analog, Andromeda two months. Taking an exclusive look at an authors work for 250 days is just wrong. These markets are going to get out-competed by those with shorter response times.
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Wordcaster
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I sent one to lightspeed and got a rejection in 2 days. "It didn't work for me." was the response.

But at least it was a quick and painless death


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tchernabyelo
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While I can understand people preferring to sub to markets with shorter response times, unless a story is in some way "topical", then does it really hurt to let it sit at a market for 6 or 9 months?

It's not as if you can't do anything else while that's happening. Once a story is written, it's done, and you just keep shopping it out there until it sells. And in the meantime... you write others.

If you've got such a large inventory that you have a story at every market you want to sell to, then I can see it as an issue. But very very few people have that level of quality inventory out there (I think at my most productive I had 20-25 stories out at any one time; nowadays I'm more around the 5 bracket, sometimes fewer).

I've said it before and I've said it again; this is not the business to be in if you want instant gratification, instant results. Patience and persistence are pretty much necessary.


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Wordcaster
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I don't enter stories based on response times, but a year long is too long for a short story that has a high chance of rejection.

20 stories out at once? That's a lot. I'm trying to build my submittable story count up. I only have 3 out right now.


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genevive42
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I prefer shorter response times too. The reason is that part of this is a numbers game. You can have a perfectly well-written story but that doesn't mean it will work for a given editor. So the more editors you can get the story in front of, the better your chances. I haven't considered Tor.com or some other longer wait venues because I can sub that story five times over before they get back to me.
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Meredith
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I don't mind two months or so. I really can't see how it could take 250 days--over eight months--for what was probably the first read.

If it had gotten to a later round. They thought about it and decided against. Well, I could understand that--and be at least a little happy about it.

But a form rejection means to me that's how long it took for the assistant to even look at it. That's nuts.


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redux
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Reading over TOR.com's submissions guidelines it seems there are just two readers, the full-time editors, who get the occasional help from first readers.

I have to wonder how big are these slush-piles? They are probably rivaling the heights of Mount Everest. Which also makes me wonder if with the advent of word processors and online-submissions if publishers are facing even greater numbers of manuscripts. Personally, I think magazines with long response times should be more sympathetic to the writer and allow simultaneous submissions.


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LDWriter2
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I agree that two hundred and some days is to many. I have noticed though that even a usual short turn around can sometimes take a while. F&SF is one example, Usually seven to nine days but every now and then it takes a month. Once it took over two months. Same rejection letter signed by JJA- at that time. Now when it takes over two weeks I wonder if someone is on vacation, misplaced my manuscript, or some such.

Not sure if your market usually takes that long or if you checked to see if the do but you could take a look. Or take a chance that this last time was a fluke.


I've noticed that few markets like IGMS take two to three months usually. Even though the last time and maybe the time before it seemed to take half the time. They either speeded up or it's gotten easier to reject my writing instead of harder.

The same goes for Asimov's and Analog. Even though come to think of it it is taking both longer this time around even though I submitted Electronically to each. A lot of submissions maybe. Need to double check that Asimov's is still out though seems like I got one back from them but it could have been the story before this one.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 01, 2011).]


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pdblake
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I don't care how big they are, someone who is unprofessional enough to take almost a year to deal with a submission does not deserve a writer's hard work.

They can blame the size of the slush pile or anything else they like, but at the end of the day Tor are big enough to do much better.


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Wordcaster
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I don't think it is unprofessional -- they are very clear about slower-than normal response times. Here's what it says in their submission guidelines:

quote:
You guys are really slow. Yes; yes we are. Look: There’s two of us (with occasional help from first readers), and we’re both full-time book editors with a lot on our plates. Tor.com is also one of the highest paying speculative fiction markets, and our stories get excellent exposure, since everyone gets to read your work for free. In short, you can’t even imagine how many submissions we’re getting. We only wish we were twiddling our thumbs.

So, yes, we are slow. Right now we respond to most stories within six to eight months, but we can't promise anything much faster than that. Please consider it a vagary of the market for now.

I am shocked! Those response times are unacceptable. There’s an old saying in publishing: “If you need an answer right now, the answer is no.” If you choose not to submit or decide withdraw your submission, we’ll be sad, but we'll understand. Please send us an email with the string “WITHDRAW:” at the beginning of your subject line.


link to submission guidelines

They pay $0.25 a word, so I'm sure they get a ridiculous amount of subs. I also thought they used to have a guideline that said something to the effect of "if you are unsure if your work meets our high professional standards, please don't send it to us." (paraphrase)


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Meredith
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Okay. I never said it was unprofessional. Just that I didn't think I'd submit to that market again.

I knew they were slower than most (from Duotrope) when I submitted. I don't recall (could be they changed the website, could be faulty memory on my part) that they were quite that up front about how slow eight months ago when I submitted the story. In fact, I seem to recall something at that time about hoping to do better. Guess they decided that wasn't going to happen.

After a couple of experiences with extremely slow markets, it's a personal choice. I'd rather submit to places that get back to me within a couple of months.


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Grayson Morris
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I'm new to the submissions game, but I start with the quickest-turnaround pro market (which is Lightspeed / Fantasy), and work my way down by turnaround time. I think this is an eminently reasonable way to submit, given roughly the same pay rate and prestige for the publications you're submitting to.

Once a story's been to all the quicker markets, no harm sending it to a slower one; it beats shelving it -- though I might well opt for publishing it myself in a short-story collection over waiting eight months for a response that's almost guaranteed to be no.


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snapper
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The quickest pro-markets are Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Fantasy, and F & SF. Two are run by the same editor, and was the slush reader for a third. They are so quick that I suspect they aren't all that interested in anything you, I, or anyone who doesn't have SFWA on their cover letter, write. At the very least I figure I have a paragraph, and need to catch them on a good day, to stand anykind of chance.

Other publications, like Asimov, IGMS, Strange Horizons, take a month or two to get back to you but if you caught their eye at all they'll drop you a small hint. At least I feel like they were willing to give me a fair shake. Bull Spec and Beneath Ceaseless Skies are better yet. They'll talk about what they thought of your script, quoting characters as an example. They leave you no doubt they have read your story. Sure they can take a very long time but often they're insights will help you get your story ready for the next market.

As far as Tor goes. Their submission responses are quite clear at Doutrope. I suggest you don't even consider them until you sold 3 (5 would be better) stories to professional markets. A quarter a word is a lot of dough to hand out.

Places like Lightspeed are great when your waiting for a place like Apex to reopen in a week. You'll likely hear from JJA before Apex is ready anyway.


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Meredith
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quote:
As far as Tor goes. Their submission responses are quite clear at Doutrope. I suggest you don't even consider them until you sold 3 (5 would be better) stories to professional markets. A quarter a word is a lot of dough to hand out.


I agree with that assessment. Which means that I won't be sending anything more to Tor.com, at least not for a long, long time.

You've go to try things once. I've tried and now I know that's not for me.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited April 02, 2011).]


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