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23 November 2008 @ 01:25 pm
Response Times  

In a previous post we had a discussion of simultaneous submissions. One issue that came up was the relationship between simultaneous submissions and long review periods.

Recently I took a look at my own submission-review history.

During the last 12 months or so, I've received 44 responses that I was able to log on Duotrope (I received some others from mags that aren't tracked on Duotrope). Some of these were repeats, as I tend to throw stories at my favorite mags first. The median response time for all 44 responses was 30 days, which is really rather good. (The longest response time, 92 days, was an outlier, and was from a contest, where I knew in advance how long it was going to take.) I have no problem giving a mag an exclusive submission when I can rely on a response in a month or two.

Looking at all the responses together, there's a large bunch of very swift responses (1-10 days) from places like GUD and F&SF; a second bunch of responses from places like Analog or Asimov's at the 40-50 day mark, and then another bunch in the vicinity of 70 days. On the whole, this is rather comforting; it's a livable set of waiting periods. I derive even more comfort from mags like Strange Horizons, which makes an ironclad promise to respond to each submission within 70 days. Again, giving a mag like SH an exclusive submission is fine, because I know that I'll have their answer within a reasonable time (most of my responses from SH have been considerably shorter than 70 days, BTW).

But, among the submissions from which I have not yet received responses, the median waiting time (so far) is up to 50 days, and the three longest waits are now 186, 180 and 166 days. According to Duotrope, the average waiting time for current pending submissions on those three mags are 205, 248 and 213 days, respectively; all three of these average waiting periods have been steadily increasing for months, and I see reports of responses from them once a week at most. I will admit to getting pretty impatient with them.

By the way, I notice that the markets that allow simsubs are usually the swift markets like GUD. The guys who take a year to review your story usually want to be the only ones looking at it at the time. As I think I've said before, I'd have no problem if it were the other way 'round. If the ones who took 30 days wanted exclusive subs, but the ones who took 200 days allowed simsubs, I'd be happy.

As it is, I'll have to think about how badly I want to be published in mags like the three unnamed above, which take forever to respond but want to be the only game in town when they do. It's not considerate or fair -- so the question is, are they worth it?
 
 
 
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rosathome on November 23rd, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
If a magazine has had your story for six months already, I cannot see any justification for not sending it elsewhere.
Kenken_schneyer on November 23rd, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Hi, Ros. Well, the justification offered in the earlier discussion was that you make an implied promise, when you submit to a mag, that you'll abide by their submission rules.

But there's nothing to stop me from withdrawing the story, saying "I've waited long enough, I'm going to send it elsewhere now, sorry," is there?
rosathome on November 23rd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
Or, indeed to resubmit it elsewhere and if by some chance you get two offers, write back pointing out that they'd had it so long, you'd assumed they weren't interested.
girlspell: traingirlspell on November 23rd, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
I agree. When a magazine sits on your submission for such a period of time, not worth it.

I was wondering....When a magazine selects you and publishes it, does another magazine keep tabs on who published you? Is it a factor in how long they sit on it before deciding?
Kenken_schneyer on November 23rd, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Hi, Rachel. I don't think editors have the time or bandwidth to base their review times on reviews of other things one has published; I think they get through their (enormous!) slush piles as fast as they can.

But the review process is definitely two-tiered. I'm confident that Nancy Kress or Robert Reed is able to e-mail her/his story to Sheila Williams at Asimov's directly, bypassing the slush pile altogether and getting a thorough read by the Editor, and quickly too. Similarly, I'll bet that somebody who's already been published by a particular mag probably gets his/her next story looked at with a bit more attention by those same editors; human nature, no?

And it's also true that a pre-existing publication record in markets of note is likely at least to raise an eyebrow at the slush desk, and perhaps prompt a more careful reading for that reason.
amamamaamamama on November 23rd, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
I'd say no, they're not worth it. But then, I've no idea which mags these are or which standing they have in the market. Will being accepted skyrocket your reputation and increase your chance of getting a book published? Or would it just be fun because you personally like them, or...? If the next step from having one of these mags accepting your story would be being published, like either a novel or a collection of shorts, then perhaps... Otherwise give'em the third and submit those stories to one of the faster ones.
Kenken_schneyer on November 23rd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
Hi, Berte.

Of course I'm hiding the names of the mags in order to avoid offending anyone, but I will say that they are all markets I admire, and which are widely respected in the field (winning awards, stories appearing in prestigious anthologies, etc.). I think that publication in any one of them would raise the eyebrows of an editor of another mag, who might do a double-take -- "Oh, he's published there? Let's look at that story more carefully."

I think I've concluded that I'm not going to do simsubs with any of these mags; if things get too long, I'll simply e-mail that I'm withdrawing the submission because I've waited too long. Even that action may kill my chances of future publication with these mags, but I do think that enough is (eventually) enough.

I'll probably wait till New Years for all three of them.
quasi randomkaolinfire on November 23rd, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
As it is, I'll have to think about how badly I want to be published in mags like the three unnamed above, which take forever to respond but want to be the only game in town when they do. It's not considerate or fair -- so the question is, are they worth it?

I've noticed with my own stuff I'm generally willing to wait about a year--but I'm not a very hardcore submitter. And I do have my top markets picked out in a combination of ease-to-submit to and prestige as well as turn-around (I consider up to about three months as a reasonably quick turnaround), so the folks I wait on a year would generally be the fifth or sixth submission. Of course, there are annoying overlaps, and when they don't take multi-subs, if I had two hundred pieces waiting on that market then that market would essentially be closed to me for the rest of my natural life. ;)

GUD's response rates are slipping, too, right now. I'm tempted to write up some graphs that better represent "now", but at the same time that would theoretically be time better spent slushing. ;)
Kenken_schneyer on November 24th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
That's probably a good strategy; maybe I should relegate the really long-period responders to a later stage in the submissions.

I had noticed, on Duotrope, the slight slippage in GUD's response rates. But even your most recent response times (2-to-36 days, median of 32) are quite impressive, and (as indicated above) wouldn't bother me at all.

I have noticed, though, that GUD's average response time for acceptances is over 100 days (over 120 for fiction), some 8-to-10 times longer than the rate for rejections. I get it that the rejection rates ar essentially slush rejections (first 300 words don't cut it), but I'm really curious about those extra 90+ days. Without resorting to graphing software, I wonder if you'd care to say something about the process for a story that survives the initial slushing-out.
quasi randomkaolinfire on November 24th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Our process is mildly chaotic (in that small changes in the weather, or mood of the day can cause wild swings in how we actually work).

Items often get left in slush for a month or two while other opinions are garnered (the piece may or may not be shortlisted during this period--they're supposed to be, but I got out of that habit with this issue because the "maybe" pile was still filled for the next and I didn't want to confuse things).

We're pretty hand-to-mouth as far as our publication schedule goes--we're accepting things and making final decisions still at the "last possible minute" (and beyond, sometimes). Things get pushed back...

Part of that, originally, was funds: we paid on acceptance, so we held that off until we all got our monies in order. We've since changed payment to publication to try to start accepting earlier, but there's still some gut instinct to hold out on making a final choice (in some instances) to the last. I'm trying to curtail that reaction.

Part of it is also that we want to be sure the story didn't just catch us on a good day; and that it wasn't a one-shot wonder. That we're still impressed with it a week later, a month later...

There's not all that much more to it than that. :)
Kenken_schneyer on November 24th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this information. Somehow the process of submission and response seems easier and calmer when one knows what's going on inside the "black box." (That's another thing I like about Strange Horizons; their process is pretty transparent.)