Bewildering Stories

David Marshall writes about...

Response Times

Once upon a time (the 2nd of February 2005, to be precise) I posted my first-and-only Fantasy story to Realms of Fantasy magazine. Discovering that they had a slush-tracking website, I watched it to see when my story would be processed (the 28th of March 2005).

And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

By the 16th of August 2005 I decided that I had waited long enough, and I queried the status of the story. This involved emailing two slush readers and the editor.

Why? Because the previous slush reader had resigned, and she was busy getting married. According to the new slush reader, his predecessor had sent out all the rejections on her final batch of slush. If I hadn’t received a rejection, then maybe my story had progressed to the next round, and was now with the editor.

Delighted by the possibility that my story was one of 29 survivors out of 306 slush submissions, I emailed the editor. Her reply arrived in 59 minutes, and was “Perhaps it’s in this bag of mail that’s just arrived.”

And so then I waited. And waited. And waited.

By the 15th of November 2005 I felt that the editor had had enough time to read 29 short stories. I again queried the status of the story by email.

I received no reply.

On the 20th of February 2006, I emailed the editor again, this time regretfully withdrawing the story from consideration.

I received no reply.

Now, I suppose it is possible that a Realms of Fantasy rejection for my story is lost in some void somewhere. Slowly dissolving in the belly of some fearsome carnivore that prowls through the alternate realities of snail-mail space, perhaps.

But could such a carnivore evolve to prey on my emails, too?

In any case, the story has now gone off to a new market. It’s not an SFWA-level market. But it is a market that doesn’t hold your stories in captivity indefinitely. If they haven’t found space for your story in their zoo in three months, then they release your story back into the wild. And they keep you informed.

And I have yet to see their editor quoted on a website, moaning about how authors waste the precious time of editors.

Yet Realms of Fantasy is a “professional” magazine, and the other market is not.

Note the lack of replies listed above. There is more than one definition of the word “professional.”

David Marshall

P.S. Would you believe that Black Hole lists Realms of Fantasy’s worst response time as 721 days? Just under two years!

Copyright © 2006 by David Marshall

Love this tale, David! (I mean, you might as well laugh as cry, at this point. :)

To add to your story: I, too, had a similar experience with Realms of Fantasy. After about a six month wait, I too queried. My story had disappeared. No one knew where it had gone. Repeated follow-ups and months more waiting at last resulted in success... they found my story!

It had languished forgotten for months in the back of the then-editor’s trunk. She was, apparently, moving to a new house, and a bag of stories was dumped there, to accumulate mildew and rust...

And then, of course, my story was rejected unread for a formatting violation.

I now know why so many writers are driven to drink, but I have been saved: I cannot afford to be a maudlin sop. Rum is too pricey. However, if anyone knows a good recipe for home-distilled White Lightnin’, let me know...

Danielle

Copyright © 2006 by Danielle L. Parker

Can’t say as I “feel your pain,” to borrow a phrase, because I don’t send stuff anywhere else. I’m so busy trying to keep Bewildering Stories an exemplary model that I never got around to entering our own time-travel contest. No big: maybe the story will be ready for our Christmas issue. Maybe.

But we’re not perfect. Contributors do well to heed our requests for queries after seven days or two weeks. Jerry and I sometimes go into what must be a comedy routine: “Didn’t I send you this?” “Do you know what happened to...?” and “Uh-oh. Found this in supposedly empty equipment, as the Postal Service sometimes says.”

But we are a darn sight better than another magazine or webzine (I won’t tell) where one of our contributors (don’t ask) innocently withdrew a submission because we accepted it first. The magawebzine snarked back that the contributor had completely wrecked their elephantine review process and ruined the lives of countless review editors and contributors. Our contributor was henceforth banned from that publication.

I’ve never gotten over that one. I’ve heard of rejections, but that beats all. I mean, banned? For something that wasn’t even submitted? Like Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting the farm on his own games? By way of historic irony, that contributor’s story has been selected for the First Bewildering Stories Anthology. So there! Take that and up yours, foul magawebzine!

Don

Copyright © 2006 by Don Webb

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