I’m waiting on rejection. I’m not looking forward to it but I don’t mind prolonging it either. Why? Well, I like having the possibilities.
Last year I wrote a short piece of fiction that I was very proud of. So proud, that I decided to send it in to a few “big time” literary magazines. I did this knowing that I am not a literary writer but this piece was my attempt at the genre and I thought it had a shot at getting published.
A year later and that little story that could is in the “In-Progress” status of submittable.com submission manager. I like it there. It’s a hopeful place. A place where there’s a chance that my writing could be published and given that literary stamp of approval.
I love having that hope but at the same time my curiosity is killing me so I decided to ask someone in this business (He is a literary writer, professor, and he is an editor at a literary magazine.) what it means to be “In-Progress” and if a year is too long to wait for rejection.
This is what he said:
“The ‘in-progress’ notation within submittable means that someone has opened the file to read – could be editor, could be slush reader, could be the person who’s simply assigning stories to various readers. Once the file’s been opened, it remains in progress until it’s either accepted or rejected, which, for some journals can be 18 months or longer (which is ridiculous in my opinion).”
“What I’d recommend is checking their FAQ and see what, if anything, they say about response times.”
“On the editor’s side, a query can sometimes rub the wrong way. But, taking a year to respond is frustrating for writers. MOST journals understand that 12-16 weeks is acceptable, though, the BIG leagues can drag because they see thousands of submissions a month and their backlogs are rife with horrible writing. SO – see if they share anything about how long you can expect to wait, and if it’s been markedly longer than that, you might send a note. If it’s not been too much longer than they say, I’d hold off. If it’s been a LOT longer than they say, one of two things is happening:
1) your story is under serious consideration or
2) it’s been rejected but no one has sent the note (this happens too often – it sucks, and it’s inhuman. I hate it.).”
“But, all that to say – no, a year is not too long for some of the major market journals. Frustrating, right? The lead time gets longer the longer your work is. I have a friend who just released her first novel. It took 3 years from the SALE of the novel to its release. That does not include her time writing or grabbing an agent’s attention or the agent shopping the manuscript. Unreal, considering how fast we can make things happen these days.”
I love that line from DUMB AND DUMBER, “So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance!” That is how I feel about this purgatory of “In-Progress.” It’s not a “thanks but no thanks” it is anything my hopeful little heart wants it to be. It doesn’t mean I won’t be submitting to other publications but for now, it’s just nice to think I am being considered.
I would love to hear from you all. Have you ever waited over a year on a submission? What is the quickest response you have ever received? Any other words of advice or stories?