Tag Archive: editorial response


The Long Wait

So here we are, the last day of November, and it’s been nearly four months since I submitted my story to the previously-mentioned contest.

In any ordinary situation, I’d be getting pretty nervous right about now.  Oh, wait.  I already am getting pretty nervous.  But it’s not an ordinary situation, per se.

For one, although I submitted this story near the beginning of August, the contest didn’t close until the end of September.  I was almost two months early.  But it’s not been two months since the contest closed.

Well, I have heard from several people who’ve submitted to this contest in the past that this is not a bad thing.  As a matter-of-fact, they tell me, the people who do not do so well in the contests are typically the first to hear back.  The longer the wait, they tell me, the more likely the result is a good one.  For values of “good”, at least, that include making it past the first round, it seems.

So, I’m in an interesting place.  On one hand, I feel very proud of my story, and very strongly that it’s a very good story.  (If you’ve been over to my Undiscovered Author blog and seen the short stories and flash pieces I’ve posted there, you may be familiar with my self-grading mechanism.  Most of the stories there grade a B or lower.  This story that I submitted, on my own, personal scale, ranks an A.  So far, it’s the only story I’ve completed that warrants that grade.)  And there’s this part of me that keeps trying to say: “See, no news is good news; this story is a really good one.  Every day you don’t hear back is a day closer to getting a really positive response.  Heck, this one could go all the way!”

But then there’s the cautiously optimistic side of me.  It tells me to be more humble and  more circumspect about my chances, not to get my hopes to far up.  “What if they lost your contact info, or you entered it wrong, and you’re already out but they can’t contact you to say so?” it asks.  “Yes,” it says, “This is a good story.  But is it great? You’ll probably make it to the semi-final round, and that’s it.  And hey, what more can you ask?  That’ll be a success in my book.”

Sigh.  And there’s  nothing for it but to wait.  And see.  And sometimes to hope.  Hey, each day that goes by is a day closer, right?  In the meantime, I’d love to say I was working on the next one.  But the present pressures of education and employment make that a difficult proposition.  I’ve got the ideas, and a general outline in place.  But I’ve done no substantive amount writing in the last month, and very little before that.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it still seems so very far off, yet.

Quick Response

So, there’s good news and bad news and more good news, with regards to the short story I submitted last week.

First, the good news: I received a response from the publisher to which I submitted my story.  That’s a pretty impressive response time.  I didn’t expect an answer, one way or the other, for another week at best.

The bad news, though, is one you can probably guess: the story was rejected for publication.  This comes as no surprise.  Although the market to which I had submitted was one that I knew best (having been a long-time reader of that magazine) and thus one which I felt this story was well-suited (not because I read the magazine, but because I feel the story is similar in tone to other stories published in that magazine), I also knew that this top-tier market was one that is notoriously difficult to break into.  They have very high standards, and they receive a lot of submissions.

The other good news is not really so much good news as it is positive spin.  The response was not merely a form rejection.  It’s a short, polite, and professional reply, for which I’m appreciative.  On Jay Lake’s Hierarchy of Editorial Responses, I believe this counts as a “neutral rejection”, which is second-from-the-bottom (a better response, in other words, than a rejection with a negative comment).  But, as I said, it was politely written, and ended with a wish of good luck in finding the story a home, which had an ameliorating effect.

What remains, now, is to take the story, dust it back off, and find someone else to submit it to.  Luckily I have another market picked out.  For this one, though, I expect a much longer wait time for a response, because the market in question is actually a contest (one with a fairly prestigious history), so I wouldn’t expect a reply until the contest close date was over.  In some ways, getting this first rejection may have been the better option, because this story might be particularly well-suited to the needs of this contest.

If the story does not do well at the contest, then it’s back to the drawing board.  Generally, you dust yourself off and move on, but it will take some thinking before I can submit to another market after this contest.  That’s because the story in question is a sliver over 12,000 words long – novela length, by SFWA standards – but there are relatively few markets for fantasy fiction that accept works of that length ( can count those I know of on one hand), and roughly zero paying markets will accept a serialized novela.  So, even though the story is quite good (in my opinion, of course), the chances of it seeing the light of day diminish rapidly with each rejection.

One lesson, of course: write shorter stories.  Easier said than done.  I like the complex interplay of themes (it’s how I roll), and the shorter the story, the less you can do in that regard.  The corollary: maybe I should be a novelist instead.

Oh, wait.