Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Long Wait

Publishing is slow.

I mean this. I try to explain to people who ask me how this or that project is doing, and I tell them that they do not comprehend the vast and overwhelming timewarp of publishing. It's slow. It's very, very slow.


I can't help but feel like someone sitting on a short story for 274 days is a bit much, even for publishing. I've e-mailed this individual, with no luck. (I won't out them. This isn't post isn't really about them.) Follow-ups go ignored. I think after 90 days, one should know whether a short story is going to get held onto or not, at least. A note saying, "Hey, I have to hold onto this a bit longer. Sorry. Your own fault for writing something good." That would be nice.

If after 90 days, and you don't think you'll get to even read the story for another 100 days, I think the decent thing to do is confess that you're too swamped to read the thing, and/or pick up an intern to filter the slush for you, to weed out the stuff that's obvious.

What's weird is that sometimes the markets that are the best are often the most frustrating. As I recently completely stopped printing and mailing any submissions (too time-consuming, and too expensive. I've got tuition bills, darnit! Every penny pinched counts!) I am only referring to magazines that accept e-mail submissions, or have some sort of form. It seems the best markets in the world (Weird Tales, The New Yorker, McSweeney's, etc.) are slow, even for publishing. I don't hold it against them. I just...

Well, I just wish there was some kind of automated check-in every 90 days with a status update, straight from their database, so I can get a reminder that I am still under consideration, and I can hunker down for a long wait...

...or, I can push the button on the 90 day check-in to automatically withdraw my piece.

I mean, what if I decide that waiting for to find approximately three minutes of breathing room to read some of the slush they must receive over the transom during their busy, busy day is just not what I want, anymore? I can pull the piece in such a way that no one has to even sign off on the decision. Sending an e-mail followup to most of these slow markets means also waiting a while for the message to get over before I can resubmit somewhere with better turnaround.

I know what you're saying: in my magical fairy world, there is also free cake instead of rejection slips, because someone would have to sit down and code all that nonsense and it certainly won't be you or me!

Actually, now that I mention it cake would be great to get instead of rejection slips. Everybody likes cake! (But - yes - knowing it would come as part of a rejection slip, I admit that I suspect the cake would be a lie...)

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