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Author Topic: submission response time
rcmann
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No doubt this subject has been done to death, but I don't know where to find the thread(s). Truth is, I'm crewing my fingernails to the bone here. The magazine usually has a turnaround of 2-3 weeks. Never more than a month. It's been three months now. Is this good or bad? It's never taken anywhere near this long to get a rejection before.
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Meredith
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It's not inappropriate at this point to send a quick query. I usually just ask them to verify that they recieved the story.

I'm waiting on day 203 for a publication that only took 52 days last time. (Then again, they closed to submissions shortly after I sent mine to work through their backlog. But they're getting up into Tor.com territory. Considering that they're closed to submissions, I waited until the six-month mark to send the query. They've got it and that's all I know.)

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axeminister
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Definitely check their website for query times.
If they don't post them, they should, so go ahead and query.

Axe

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History
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I hadn't received a reply from F&SF after 12 weeks, which is when they indicate one could then query them to check. Since most of my previous rejections from them have been three weeks or less, I was both slightly hopeful and slightly concerned they may have not received the story (snail mail submissions only). I resubmitted the story and cover letter(s) et al before my vacation.

It turns out they had received it initially.
I just received a rejection (personal, but still a rejection) from F&SF editor Mr. Gordon Van Gelder. Total turnaround: 15 weeks.

Ah, well. For a moment there...

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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rcmann
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I guess I'll chew my nails a little bit longer. Better to have hoped and crashed, than never to have hoped at all. Maybe.
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genevive42
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If no response time is stated, check duotrope for averages. If you seem well beyond the average, then 90 days is a fair marker at which to send a query.
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rabirch
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quote:
Originally posted by History:
It turns out they had received it initially.
I just received a rejection (personal, but still a rejection) from F&SF editor Mr. Gordon Van Gelder. Total turnaround: 15 weeks.

Congratulations, Dr. Bob! You have achieved one of my writing goals. A rejection from F&SF that is actually from Gordon! Some day I shall receive one, too. I have faith. [Big Grin]
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Robert Nowall
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Well, the last two submissions to one of the print markets I send to did seem to take a little longer than they had been previous. (I haven't actually crunched the numbers on it.) As the end result was the same---form rejection slip---I didn't attach any significance to it.

I wouldn't query anyone for at least six months, if then...

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genevive42
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Sorry, Robert, but I have to disagree. Unless a market is known to take six months, ie Tor.com and the like, six months is outrageous. No respectable market is going to get upset if you query at 90 days unless otherwise stated. There's always that possibility that your submission has been lost and that's better to resolve sooner than later.

Note, even if you received a submission confirmation, things can go wrong after the process starts so it's still valid to query.

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LDWriter2
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rc sounds like you have gotten some good advice, so there's not much more I can say,


However Dr. Bob good going, not as good as a sell but the pros that have commented on personal rejections say it means you're getting closer. Keep going.

rabirch I've gotten a few rejections from him.... [Wink]

Now for the rest of the story....that was back when he first bought F&SF and he was the only one reading....with one later toward the end of the time JJA was there. But no personal notes though.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Not only are you getting close, but you may have Gordon Van Gelder watching for your next submission. When an editor bothers to reject you personally, it can mean that your work caught the editor's attention, and the editor is hoping to encourage you to send more.

So let it be encouraging, Dr. Bob, and send F&SF something else as soon as you can.

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History
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Thank you all for the encouragement.

However, it is likely Mr. Van Gelder read my submission merely because one of his staple (stable?) of published authors recommended it to him.

The only other story I believe worthy of his consideration is a 16,800 word urban fantasy--too long a tale to publish for a "new" author, I believe, and he also stated he is "full up on fantasy stories." This is not the first time he has made this complaint. I'd strongly suggest considering submitting your best science fiction tales to F&SF. Unfortunately, as yet, I have none.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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genevive42
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quote:
a 16,800 word urban fantasy--too long a tale to publish for a "new" author
I believe this of F&SF, but not other top pro mags. Though fantasy leaves you out of Analog and Asimov's. Have you tried IGMS?
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History
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quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
quote:
a 16,800 word urban fantasy--too long a tale to publish for a "new" author
I believe this of F&SF, but not other top pro mags. Though fantasy leaves you out of Analog and Asimov's. Have you tried IGMS?
Hi genevive,

Sent it to IGMS yesterday, actually.
However, I do not recall seeing UF in IGMS before. I did wish to send them something, and this is the only thing I have (at present) that I believe complies with their PG-13 rating.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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LDWriter2
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quote:
However, it is likely Mr. Van Gelder read my submission merely because one of his staple (stable?) of published authors recommended it to him.
I may misunderstand your comment but isn't that the way it normally works? Which makes it a good thing when you get through all of them...however many S&SF has.


But as I recall either Analog or Asimov's sometimes takes UF according to Kathleen.

She will probably respond with the correct magazine.

[ August 28, 2012, 12:55 AM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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ASIMOV'S publishes some fantasy.
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History
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But not mine. [Wink]
They turned down one of mine already.
I do like submitting to them because they have their own submission tracker.

I really need to write some more sf. I have not been happy with my sf stories to date.

But back to the subject....I find the issue of submission response times relevent to the subject of e-pub/self-pub. At what point does one consider the latter?

With response times varying from a few weeks to months (to years with Tor.com), one can have a story making the rounds for many years-if one has the will and perseverance to continually resubmit.

This makes self-pub/e-pub begin to look attractive--though more so more novels. Or need one assume if the story is unsaleable, it should be placed in a dark box and buried in the backyard in an unmarked grave.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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rcmann
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This is the kind of thing that leaves a person in a quandary. Do I submit to another place while waiting? How long is too long to let someone else dictate my marketing strategy to me? On the other hand, what if more than one wants to buy it? (Falls out of chair laughing helplessly at the thought.)

The stock answer is "get busy and write more stories". Which is not exactly as easy to do as it is to say. Writing a story, a real story that matters to the writer, is not something most of us can just scratch off like we are on an assembly line. Even tech writing takes time to do it properly. Creative writing is a painful process, unless you are satisfied with turning out crap. In my opinion of course. So it's not so easy to inundate the market with high quality possibilities.

Multiple pen names would let you submit more than once to the same place, I suppose. But that still assumes you have more than enough stories to blanket the marketplace.

*sigh*

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genevive42
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Actually multiple pen names doesn't help. The info in the top left on your manuscript is generally your own regardless of the pen name. Also, if an editor figures out that you're trying to pull a trick, they might not take too kindly to seeing your name again. Besides, there are plenty of markets, for most things. Why the need to multi-sub?

Also, please note, that many markets don't allow sim subs so check the guidelines before sending it out somewhere else, and make sure the new place accepts sim subs as well. You really don't want to make a bad first impression with editors.

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LDWriter2
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Dr. Bob.


One??? They rejected one?


Please pardon me if that sounds too sarcastic, it isn't meant to.

But They have rejected over fifty of mine. Of course that isn't Fantasy...yet. One of these days I will send a couple of my UF stories. I don't expect any better results but one never knows.

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EVOC
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Yea rcmann. My magazine doesn't allow sim subs. We still regularly get emails saying that a writer wishes to withdraw because it was accepted someplace else. It raises that persons name to our attention and not it a good way.
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EVOC
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quote:
Originally posted by History:
This makes self-pub/e-pub begin to look attractive--though more so more novels. Or need one assume if the story is unsaleable, it should be placed in a dark box and buried in the backyard in an unmarked grave.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

There are 4,000 markets listed on Duotrope. I don't see any reason a short story should be buried in the backyard. I've been on a hiatus from short works, and it does take time to be published, but I think the only reason authors give up is because they want that 5 cents a word. When they don't get it, they find that dark box.

Unless I wind up with a collection of short stories that are of a similar theme and can be combined into an anthology, I won't self publish my short stories. I will self pub my novels. Because for those types of works I want to see them out to readers. Not stuck in a query cycle.

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rcmann
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Once again, I am failing to make myself clear.

I recognize that magazines do not want sim subs. That was the point of my gripe. Editorials staffs maintain their right/authority to dictate terms. To wit, that a *potentially* saleable story - which they might, or might not, deign to purchase if they are in the right mindset for it - shall *not* be flashed in front of the eyes of anyone else until and unless the editor in question decides to get around to reading it (Someday. When he/she is in the mood.) In fact, it will actually be read by a slush pile first reader. Meanwhile, the author is sitting at home waiting. We are sitting around on pins and needles waiting on the convenience of someone who doesn't even have final authority to ok or nix the sale.

If I go to a car lot, and I am taking a long time to decide about a car, the salesman is perfectly justified in showing that car to another customer, is he not? If I go to Wal-Mart and see a tv on sale, with only one left in stock, I had better grab that thing if I want it. Dawdling around while trying to make up my mind will result in my going home tv-less while someone else enjoys their new electronic toy.

Yet publishers seem to be convinced that they have a god-given right to demand the privileges of pre-ownership. Like dictating the terms of access to a product. No damn wonder people are self-publishing in droves and herds.

This, for some of us, is our living. For all of us it is an important part of our identity. It's a bit cavalier in my opinion for someone else, a total stranger, to take upon themselves the casual assumption of authority that issues an imperial decree "Thou shalt not permit others to view this piece of trash until we, and we alone, have had our chance to spit upon it!" Because given the rejection rate in this business, most of us are going to get kicked most of the time anyway.

Never mind. Ignore me. I'm in a bad mood. Not feeling too good this evening. I'm unfit company for human nor beast when I get like this. Sorry.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If an editor takes too long, and you want to send your manuscript to someone else, you are perfectly welcome to send the slow editor a letter withdrawing your manuscript from their consideration.

It might be best to say that since you haven't heard from them in X months, you will consider it withdrawn and will submit it to another market, if they don't respond within Y weeks (so they have time to speak up if they are considering it).

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redux
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rcmann - I fully understand your point. The system doesn't seem very competitive; at the very least not particularly fair from the writer's perspective. What I find interesting is that this only seems to be an issue in the short-story market. Once you're at novel length, you can usually simultaneously query as many agents or editors to your heart's content.

My only guess is that short-story venues are in short supply (in comparison to book publishers and agents where there is a lot more competition) so magazine editors impose the rules in their favor. But this theory falls apart when you look at literary magazines because many allow simultaneous submissions.

In other words, I have no clue [Smile] ... just offering my sympathies.

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rcmann
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
If an editor takes too long, and you want to send your manuscript to someone else, you are perfectly welcome to send the slow editor a letter withdrawing your manuscript from their consideration.

It might be best to say that since you haven't heard from them in X months, you will consider it withdrawn and will submit it to another market, if they don't respond within Y weeks (so they have time to speak up if they are considering it).

I'm going to give them two more weeks, since I waited this long. But if this one doesn't sell, after waiting this long, I won't bother submitting to that place again. It's not worth the pain.

Not that the lack of my lovely prose is likely to make them feel deprived. [Smile]

quote:
I fully understand your point. The system doesn't seem very competitive; at the very least not particularly fair from the writer's perspective. What I find interesting is that this only seems to be an issue in the short-story market. Once you're at novel length, you can usually simultaneously query as many agents or editors to your heart's content.

My only guess is that short-story venues are in short supply (in comparison to book publishers and agents where there is a lot more competition) so magazine editors impose the rules in their favor. But this theory falls apart when you look at literary magazines because many allow simultaneous submissions.

In other words, I have no clue [Smile] ... just offering my sympathies.

Thanks. It's odd that so many blog posts and editorials bemoan the crap quality of the so called slush pile. Yet by treating potentially promising new writers with such arrogant disdain, are the publications not discouraging the very resource that they need in order to stay in business long term? Or is my perception of the industry totally whacked?

I can accept the assertion that most of the submissions are not fit to print. But everyone has to start out as a beginner. I mean, not even Bradbury or Anderson started out at the top. With rare exceptions (Thank you BCS, most sincerely) my personal experience as a person trying to get started in fiction writing not been encouraging. In fact, it has ranged from discouraging, to dismissive, to insulting. Maybe that's just me. Maybe I am just that bad at writing. But I think making a new writer wait weeks, or months, only to receive a cookie cutter-style spit in the face, might possibly be self-defeating in the long run.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Sad to say, but there are those in the book (writing as well as publishing) business who believe that if you can be discouraged from submitting, then you should be. I agree that it's a form of arrogance to think that only those who refuse to give up deserve to succeed.

I'm just glad that this isn't the only attitude in the field. There are plenty of others who are very interested in nurturing and encouraging new talent, and who bemoan those who might have been great if they had only kept trying a little longer.

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genevive42
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quote:
Yet by treating potentially promising new writers with such arrogant disdain, are the publications not discouraging the very resource that they need in order to stay in business long term? Or is my perception of the industry totally whacked?

I can accept the assertion that most of the submissions are not fit to print. But everyone has to start out as a beginner. I mean, not even Bradbury or Anderson started out at the top. With rare exceptions (Thank you BCS, most sincerely) my personal experience as a person trying to get started in fiction writing not been encouraging. In fact, it has ranged from discouraging, to dismissive, to insulting. Maybe that's just me. Maybe I am just that bad at writing. But I think making a new writer wait weeks, or months, only to receive a cookie cutter-style spit in the face, might possibly be self-defeating in the long run.

I don't believe it's that hostile of an environment and I'm sorry, but if you keep that attitude you're going to find this a very difficult road.

Many of the publications you speak of make little or no money and run on volunteers and sometimes donations. OSC said that IGMS doesn't turn a profit. Fortunately, he can afforn to run it at a loss. And I just made my first pro sale to a pub that runs on donations and doesn't seem to have ads on their site so, I doubt they're making oodles of money. That's why you see so many pubs go out of business. So are you really going to be that demanding of the editors in this industry that you think a few weeks or a couple of months is out of line?

And by the way, editors owe you nothing. They have a market, you have a product you want them to 'sell' to their customers. It's entirely up to them whether they think your product is suitable. If you were selling Twinkies and you walked into a health food store to try and get them to put your Twinkies on their shelf, would you be upset because they rejected you?

Editors do not reject you to 'spit in your face' or make a fool out of you. It's also not their job to coddle newbie writers. Your job is to become the kind of writer that's hard to reject. And even then, you will still get rejections. Get used to it.

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rcmann
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quote:
Originally posted by genevive42:
quote:
Yet by treating potentially promising new writers with such arrogant disdain, are the publications not discouraging the very resource that they need in order to stay in business long term? Or is my perception of the industry totally whacked?

I can accept the assertion that most of the submissions are not fit to print. But everyone has to start out as a beginner. I mean, not even Bradbury or Anderson started out at the top. With rare exceptions (Thank you BCS, most sincerely) my personal experience as a person trying to get started in fiction writing not been encouraging. In fact, it has ranged from discouraging, to dismissive, to insulting. Maybe that's just me. Maybe I am just that bad at writing. But I think making a new writer wait weeks, or months, only to receive a cookie cutter-style spit in the face, might possibly be self-defeating in the long run.

I don't believe it's that hostile of an environment and I'm sorry, but if you keep that attitude you're going to find this a very difficult road.

Many of the publications you speak of make little or no money and run on volunteers and sometimes donations. OSC said that IGMS doesn't turn a profit. Fortunately, he can afforn to run it at a loss. And I just made my first pro sale to a pub that runs on donations and doesn't seem to have ads on their site so, I doubt they're making oodles of money. That's why you see so many pubs go out of business. So are you really going to be that demanding of the editors in this industry that you think a few weeks or a couple of months is out of line?

And by the way, editors owe you nothing. They have a market, you have a product you want them to 'sell' to their customers. It's entirely up to them whether they think your product is suitable. If you were selling Twinkies and you walked into a health food store to try and get them to put your Twinkies on their shelf, would you be upset because they rejected you?

Editors do not reject you to 'spit in your face' or make a fool out of you. It's also not their job to coddle newbie writers. Your job is to become the kind of writer that's hard to reject. And even then, you will still get rejections. Get used to it.

*bows*

I had no intention of rousing your ire ma'am.

Nor did I intend to imply that any editor owed me anything. Not even courtesy, if it comes to that. Perhaps I have been spoiled by my years in the engineering and legal business, and my time spent dealing with local and state government entitities. And my few brief years as a Head Hunter for an international recruiting firm.

in my career, I simply became accustomed to dealing with people who took the long view, and spent at least half their time trying to adjust their attitudes and behaviors so as to maximize the gorwth potential and long term benefit of their company. It's quite true that very few of the companies I worked for, or the clients we served, operated on donations. The ones that didn't rake in healthy profits, didn't survive long enough to hire us.

My attitude might be crotchety. I admit this. But I still think that it's curious. Many magazines are struggling, and many are going out of business - or starting up and then failing quickly. While at the same time, industry standard practice is to treat the short story writers in the spec fiction field with an attitude that, in my past work experience, would go far toward losing someone a client.

Cause and effect? Maybe not. But it looks suspicious to me.

By the way, it's true that editors don't owe the writers anything unless a story sells. But by the same token, writers don't owe the editors anything either. Do they? Not unless a sale is made.

If a magazine is paying pro rates, yet operates on donations, and refuses to take advantage of the free revenue available from running ads on their site... speaking as a crotchety old veteran of the marketplace, I really don't think they have any right to complain. The idea is, you pay your expenses out of your income. If income is slim to none, and yet they pay pro rates, obviously they are not in it for the money.

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EVOC
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Thank you genevive42. You hit the nail on the head.

I just sold a story that has been going through submissions for a year. When it sold I had to reread it just to remember the details of the story. But I prefer to submit to one market at a time and wait.

There are two ways to look at it. You can sit around and wonder if your story will be accepted. When it isn't you can get angry and blame the editor. OR you can submit it to one market, be glad you finished it and start another project. And when it is rejected, you can accept that rejection as part of being a writer and submit it elsewhere.

Disappointment from rejection is normal, maybe even a little anger is expected. But it isn't the editor's fault your were rejected. Sometimes it isn't even your fault. Like genevive42 said, you may just be trying to sell Twinkies to a health food store.

I don't think editors are trying to hold dominance over a story. My magazine is 100% paid for out of my already slim earnings. And until advertising picks up, it will continue to be. And even once advertising starts in, there will only be enough for me to break even. And if I start making a profit, I will raise my per word rate. Like many of the markets I have seen, they are about getting writers to readers, not profits.

At this point I run almost the entire magazine myself. I do a lot of first reads (though I a helper), I do all the third reads, I do the layout, advertising sales, art direction, payments, and marketing. I spend more time on my magazine then I do on my day job and my writing combined. Which is why it can sometimes take some time to hear back on a story. I've got other parts of my magazine to read and have to take a break from reading.

I make the submission guidelines (including no sim subs) in a manner that fits my business. After all it is my business so I have a right to dictate how I run my business. With over 120 submissions a month (on slow months), that is a lot of stories to read. Especially if I have to run other parts of my business around reading and my day job. I can only imagine what IGMS or Daily SF get in a month, even with staff I am sure they are overwhelmed.

It is my opinion that you are looking at this the wrong way. In most cases (thanks to Duotrope) you know how long, on average, a market will spend with your story. As a writer I don't submit to anyone that will take six months or more with my story. At least not at first. Because I am not prepared to wait that long.

I don't know if I said this before, but when I get rejected I send it out to a new market the same day. I don't let it get to me (anymore). In fact, I embrace rejection. I almost look at it as my right of passage into the short story market.

quote:
By the way, it's true that editors don't owe the writers anything unless a story sells. But by the same token, writers don't owe the editors anything either. Do they? Not unless a sale is made.
As a writer, I owe editors a great deal. Editors are what have made my work stronger. Editors are to thank for my publication credits, and editors are to thank for giving me my small place on the map. So no, I think writers do owe editors a lot. And I think editors owe writers too. My magazine won't succeed without writer submissions. And writers can reach more readers through my magazine. It is a symbiotic relationship.

But aside from a rejection, writers don't feel the wrath of editors. While editors are constantly barraged by writers because they are "unfair" or "mean" or "try to control writers". I nearly lost one of my volunteer editors over an email from a writer that tore her to shreds for rejecting his piece. Unacceptable from a writer.

quote:
If a magazine is paying pro rates, yet operates on donations, and refuses to take advantage of the free revenue available from running ads on their site... speaking as a crotchety old veteran of the marketplace, I really don't think they have any right to complain. The idea is, you pay your expenses out of your income. If income is slim to none, and yet they pay pro rates, obviously they are not in it for the money.
If you write for money, I think you are doing it wrong. I think if you get into the short fiction publishing business for money, you are doing wrong. This goes back to not giving editors credit. We do this to help bring great stories to readers. Not for money. We may get lucky and make a few bucks, but in the end we really just want to get stories to readers. So while we may not be in it for the money, we still need to pay the overhead that comes with running a magazine.

And if all of us stopped paying pro-rates, or even semi-pro rates? Then writers would complain there isn't enough pro or semi-pro markets to submit to.

The point of my rant is that it is a dual relationship. Writers and Editors need each other mutually. If an editor put out a guideline that was so silly, they would lose a lot of potential writers. Asking for no sim-subs and taking time to review each manuscript with care is not unreasonable. It also means a writer has to wait.

I'm okay with waiting.

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MJNL
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It's good to remember that when you send a manuscript to an editor you are essentially knocking on their door and saying, "Hi, I'm so-n-so, would you like to buy ____?"

What happens when someone comes to *your* door and tries to sell *you* something?

I have a no soliciting sign on my door. Thankfully editors don't.

Now imagine someone comes to your door, gives you a thirty-minute sales pitch, and you want what they're hawking. Wouldn't you be a bit crabby if after all that they say, "Oh, sorry, just sold the item to your neighbor down the road"?

Industry standards can always be changed, and it's good to instigate change if practices really are unfair or unbeneficial to the industry. But you have to be able to look at an aspect from all sides before drawing conclusions.

If you think an editor is unfairly form-rejecting you or "sitting" on your story too long, I suggest becoming a slush reader. That will cure you of the "controlling editor" notion real quick.

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rcmann
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Interesting gamut of reactions here. I'm completely unused to a business where making a profit is considered a low priority. It twists my mind, trying to grasp the concept.

@MJNL - I have two points in reply to that. First, I am not advertising that I am in the market for a particular item. The magazines are. The are asking for submissions, not grudgingly allowing writers the privilege of submitting them. Without submissions, the magazines do not exist.

Second, as I said in a prior post, if I want to buy something and I know that others want it as well, it behooves me to get off my duff and make an offer. Like the example I used before; the last tv on the shelf at wal-mart. If someone else buys it before I get to it, I am simply SOL. That's life and the realities of business.

@EVOC - I was not complaining about being rejected. Please do not misunderstand. Rejection is fine. FOr example, I received a rejection letter ysterday that made me smile. It was prompt (less than two weeks since submission) and it was written politely. Even tactfully. Obviously the editor took five minutes to think about the writer's (my) probable feelings and made the effort to phrase her rejection in a non-objectionable fashion. It wasn't complimentary, but at least it wasn't insulting. She didn't sneer and she didn't make me wait an irritatingly long time. There is such a thing as politeness. It applies in the world of business, sometimes even more than in daily living. Many people don't seem to realize that. Those who do realize it, and try to make a point of thinking about other people's reactions ahead of time, often make a lot more money than the others.

I'm retired and disabled. I'm not writing for money. I am writing to keep from going completely insane. And because I like to yap. I don't blame the editor if my story isn't a good fit for their magazine. I don't blame them if they personally don't like my story. I personally can't abide Hemingway, yet many people love his arse. It takes all kinds.

I was just saying, and ALL I meant to say, is that it seems weird to me how an industry that is struggling in so many ways treats the source of its wealth with what I perceive to be casual disdain.

Note that I said "what I perceive to be". I acknowledge that I might very well be wrong. But then again, perception is, in many ways, reality.

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MJNL
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:


@MJNL - I have two points in reply to that. First, I am not advertising that I am in the market for a particular item. The magazines are. The are asking for submissions, not grudgingly allowing writers the privilege of submitting them. Without submissions, the magazines do not exist.

Second, as I said in a prior post, if I want to buy something and I know that others want it as well, it behooves me to get off my duff and make an offer. Like the example I used before; the last tv on the shelf at wal-mart. If someone else buys it before I get to it, I am simply SOL. That's life and the realities of business.


To your first point: I believe most magazines could do quite well if they were invite only. That would be like holding a Tupperware party--those sales people are already in the door. We, as non-invited salespeople, have to go to the door and knock. Submissions pages are doors, the submission is the knock, the manuscript is the product. I don't know about you, but I've never been solicited for a submission, Iíve always had to find places where I could submit. Just because someone is open to new voices and new salespeople does not mean they solicited those salespeople.

Point two: Can you imagine what it would be like to have to essentially "go to auction" for every short story? Which is what would happen if everyone started doing sim-subs. It can be done for novels, because novels are like houses. They're big ticket items that you release and are done. A monthly magazine barely has the staff or resources to get through its slush each month, let alone to fight for every story. My story for IGMS was accepted only one issue ahead. If every editor had to fight for every short story, each story would probably cost them more (yay for the writers to begin with--boo when this puts even more venues out of business), and it would take them more time to acquire, which means languishing *longer* in the slush pile.

Now, I could be wrong, of course. Perhaps it would just be first-come first-served, but what motivation do the editors have to go that way? They have way more supply than they demand, and there is no incentive for them to change this current aspect. I don't blame them. Why would I adopt a practice that makes my job more difficult and time consuming? You are absolutely right that this is business (even if there's not much money to be made)--which means it's not "fair," it's practical. It's impractical for editors to all change to sim-subs.

Again, not saying things couldn't be done better--there's always room for improvement in any system. But there has to be practical incentive for change.

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Robert Nowall
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Point of order: you aren't selling to the markets and the editors---they are buying.
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MJNL
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Robert, I'm not sure I understand. Buyers require sellers. I make "sales" to editors. They purchase rights to print.
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EVOC
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It is a buyer's market. MJNL says it best that the supply of stories is way, WAY higher than the demand.

To date I have only purchased roughly 4% of the stories sent to me, and my percentage is higher than a lot of markets.

I have spent many nights awake thinking over several great stories knowing the space I have is limited and I must choose only a few. What you might see as a lengthy delay, I see as trying not to reject a good story hastily.

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Robert Nowall
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Has nothing to do with supply---these markets need content to fill their magazine or website or whatever---and therefore, they must buy in order to do that.

Whether there's a lot of stories to buy, or only a few, or they pay money or just publication, or some other variant standard of selectiveness comes into play, doesn't change that. On this level, it's no different than a chain store or a supermarket.

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EVOC
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I see what you are saying, Robert.
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rcmann
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Supply vs. demand. Price is inversely proportional to the ratio between the two. As supply goes up, and demand remains steady, price drops. That's called a buyer's market.

But is the short story business really a buyer's market right now? is the supply of "publishable" short stories going up?

For that matter, is the demand going down? When any writer, good bad, or indifferent, can publish on the web and reach an audience of literally hundreds of millions free of charge? Very nearly free of effort?

It might be said that publishing in an established magazine provides a writer with greater exposure and a wider audience. But I have dark doubts about that nowadays. When I was young, Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF were al available on the local drug store magazine racks. Now, I can't even find them in the local excuse for a book store.

As far as the online magazines. I mean no ofense ot anyone, and I hope no one is insulted by this but it's true. Until I started looking for someplace to submit my own work I had no idea that IGMS, Clarkesworld, BCS, et. al. existed. And I have been a sci-fi fan for most of half a century. There is simply no advertising/marketing going on compared to the "mainstream" periodicals. Apex? What is this 'Apex' you speak of? Oh, it's a magazine? What kind? What do they publish? Shimmer? Isn't that a car wax or something?....

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BoldWriter
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quote:
But is the short story business really a buyer's market right now? is the supply of "publishable" short stories going up?
Thing is, any story is 'publishable.' It's all a matter of taste and subject. Our place in time isn't really a factor, I'd think. The world of modern publishing has always been a buyer's market. The supply of short stories, and even full novels, far exceeds the demands of most publishing outlets. The often ridiculous response times are a direct result of that. The real trick for the publishers is sifting through the crap.

quote:
For that matter, is the demand going down? When any writer, good bad, or indifferent, can publish on the web and reach an audience of literally hundreds of millions free of charge? Very nearly free of effort?
Almost always free of profit, too, and there's the rub. If all you want is to get your work out there, you can post it online all day long. Blogs are good for that. If you want the small amount of respect that comes with that small amount of money, you have to jump through thier hoops.
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History
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Some thoughts on the subject by the late Marion ZImmer Bradley:

http://www.mzbworks.com/why.htm

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rcmann
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I actually have a printout of that posted on my wall:) Along with the rest of her advice.
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EVOC
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
For that matter, is the demand going down? When any writer, good bad, or indifferent, can publish on the web and reach an audience of literally hundreds of millions free of charge? Very nearly free of effort?

I think there is a serious misconception that by self publishing you will reach millions. In actuallity you have to do all the marketing yourself. And I am discovering that self publishing is taking a lot more work then the traditional method.

I wish I knew some of the suscriber numbers for the different online based magazines. But, I think you will hit more readers being published by them than being self published. Of course if you are good at marketing, you could easily prove me wrong.

I actually believe that a middle ground works best. Self publishing and traditional publishing combined.

Self publishing is full of writers fed up with mainstream. Some of them are really good. Some are really bad. But then again, the ones I think are bad, others might love.

I think it is all a matter of perspective. It seems clear that you do not enjoy the traditional method of publishing. Perhaps a self publishing route would be better for you.

That is what I am doing with my novel. I hired my an editor, waited two months, and now I am correcting my misakes.

While I still had to wait for an editor, at least I didn't get a simple rejection letter back. I got a very detailed, line by line mark up.

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rcmann
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I would be willing to wit twice as long for a response, if I got a simple explanation as to why it wasn't bought. Never mind a line by line markup. Only two magazines so far have been willing to provide me with specifics. I really appreciate it, too. In the future, those two magazines will always have first crack at my stories. This may, or may not, turn out to be a net benefit to them. In fact, it is entirely possible that they would prefer I left them alone. [Smile] But since they have been willing to provide me with feedback, the least I can do is give them my priority opportunity at my best efforts. On the other hand, there are some that I no longer submit to at all. It just isn't worth the aggravation.

But then, I write short stories, not books.

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genevive42
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quote:
I would be willing to wait twice as long for a response, if I got a simple explanation as to why it wasn't bought.
Some personal rejections are very good, some are not.

Comments often simply reflect the taste of a certain editor and you can't spend your time reworking for the last editor you sent to. You might end up editing out the very thing the next editor would have liked.

If the comment points to a structural problem with the story, that can be helpful - if they're right. But if it just happens they don't care for the structure you've used, well, that's not going to help you fix your story, especially if you chose that structure intentionally.

I once got personal comments on a story from two very respected editors. One completely contradicted the other. Which should I have believed? These comments also happen to be on a story that my critters really liked.

I appreciate the comment of, 'I like the story, it just doesn't fit our publication'. At least I know they liked it and didn't find anything wrong with it. This gives me hope it will find a home elsewhere.

Then there's the vague, generic comments like, 'the main character didn't grab me'. I got that comment on a story that later sold. So it wasn't one person's cup of tea, but it was another's.

One publication has a form rejection that says they found your piece to have 'uneven prose' as a reason for not taking it. That's a form. You could pull your hair out trying to figure out where your prose is inconsistent when it's perfectly fine.

I do like tiered rejections, like at F&SF and Lightspeed. At least I have a sense of how far I got and how engaged they were. No nonsense, but I can tell if they finished the story.

Part of the problem is that as newer writers, we don't always know when we're getting good advice, or not. And early on in this writing venture there's the tendency to put editors on a pedestal and believe whatever they say. The truth is, they're not always right. It's even more true when the comments come from a slush reader. Some publications have much better slush readers than others. Shimmer has good slushers, in my opinion.

For these reasons, I now put less value on comments in rejection letters. I still listen and see what I can learn, but as with any critique, you still have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

quote:
On the other hand, there are some that I no longer submit to at all. It just isn't worth the aggravation.
I won't ask you to ID them here, but are you submitting to pro mags, and good semi-pro, or across the board? Just curious.

Also keep in mind that even if you're getting consistent rejections from a place, doesn't mean that the editor isn't keeping an eye on you, hoping that the next one you send will be something they can use. This does happen. I've heard comments from more than one editor that they like when they see improvement from a writer. Form rejections are not always doom.

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rcmann
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I submit strictly to pro mags at the moment, although not always to the ones listed on the SFWA site.

I suppose much of it is simply moving into a new type of business. When I was doing free-lance tech writing, I never had to wait more than a week to get a response from an online publication, yea or nay. If they didn't want my article, be it a review, or an editorial, or an opinion piece, or whatever, then they always gave me a reason. It might not be much of one, but they always gave me a reason.

In fairness, the tech writing I did was topical. I was writing on subjects that were in constant flux, like new software etc. So dawdling around would defeat the purpose.

quote:
Part of the problem is that as newer writers, we don't always know when we're getting good advice, or not. And early on in this writing venture there's the tendency to put editors on a pedestal and believe whatever they say. The truth is, they're not always right. It's even more true when the comments come from a slush reader. Some publications have much better slush readers than others.
I'm too old, cynical, and arrogant to accept anyone's opinion without question. Although I grant that most editors know more about what will sell in this business than I do. Still, the Peter Principle no doubt holds true in publishing as much as any other field.

I also agree about the slush readers. Emphatically. I can't speak to Shimmer's, but some places have slush readers that... never mind.

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Robert Nowall
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Of late, the rejection speed I've gotten has not struck me as terribly long---one market seems to have about doubled the length of it this last year (from about a month-pluys to about two-and-a-half months), but it's still not somereally lengthy time period.

*****

Some further thought on my comments about buying and selling---it's something of a gross oversimplification to compare an SF mag to a supermarket (among other things, a lot of supermarket inventory is there on consignment). But the general principle is the same.

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genevive42
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quote:
I'm too old, cynical, and arrogant to accept anyone's opinion without question.
I love this.
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genevive42
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A thorough look into Shimmer's editorial process:

http://www.shimmerzine.com/2012/09/05/how-shimmer-falls-in-love-with-fiction/

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mayflower988
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I wasn't sure where to post this question, but I sent a story to Cricket magazine at about the end of January/beginning of February. I remember reading somewhere that I could expect an answer in six months or so, though I can't remember if I saw that on Cricket's website or if a fellow Hatracker told me that. If Cricket has anything on their site about how long it might take to get a response, I have yet to find it. Anyway, it's been seven months, going on eight, since I mailed my manuscript. At what point do I contact them about it?
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