Hello again, friends and rivals! Happy November to you. Let's dust off our SAD lamps and pull our fleece onesies out from the back of the closet. It's almost hunkering down time, and you better believe I got a list of shows to binge longer than my to do list.
You may not know this (you probably do, if you've been following along for awhile,) but one of my pet peeves in the literary world is a particular kind of rejection you might get from publishing houses and literary journals. That rejection is: "if you don't hear back by ________", consider it a no. It's certainly a huge step up from just rejecting by non-response, and I understand that it may be a time-saving measure but here's the thing: publishing is rarely an industry that runs perfectly on time. Even less than others. Often lit mags who say they will respond in 6 months take 9, and some who say 3 months as their time frame respond two years later when you've forgotten you sent the thing in at all.
(What? I never scroll that far back in my writing submission spread sheet. What even was 2016?)
Because of this, if you're simultaneously submitting (submitting the same work of writing to multiple journals at once) and one of those journals says that if you don't hear back from them in 6 months, it's a no, you're left in a pretty weird position if after the piece is submitted elsewhere, the journal with the 6 months or no guideline decides to accept the piece in say, 8 months.
Granted, I'm sure this doesn't happen often, and publishers are usually very nice in the event this happens, but it is u-n-c-o-m-f-r-t-a-b-l-e. Almost as uncomfortable as the missing second "o" in uncomfortable.
But it's a bummer. This is one of the many flaws (I view it that way, though I'm open to arguments that this is not a flaw,) of the industry that is an inevitability when dealing with funding/staffing shortages. People in the literary/publishing world are not typically paid very well, but they have a ton to do. So of course, they have to maximize their labour. I see the logic behind this kind of rejection template. It might free up a lot of time. The trouble is, at a structural level, it puts a lot of pressure on publishers to respond within that window and it leaves room for uncomfortable errors.
As a strategy, it might be a net positive. For me, being a writer at the level I'm at, it's stressful, and I'm seeing it more and more.
An established writer recently told me that the submission markets are more saturated than ever. With free submissions and the advent of submitting online, it's become more accessible to more people (which is fantastic) but it means that things are more competitive. It makes sense that to compensate for this upswing in submissions, editors would need to find ways to save time so that their stipend isn't being stretched thinner across more work.
So what's to be done? Not much, I think. Practice writing polite "oh no, I'm sorry, I thought it was a no" e-mails. Find cute gifs featuring sheepish shrugs. Not simultaneously submit.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, writers. Do you have strategies? Feelings? Insights? Let me know where your brains are at.
Without further ado, rejections.
[WRITING REJECTION 56/100]
Thank you for submitting "Moving Out" for our consideration. Unfortunately, we have decided not to include your piece in our upcoming issue. We wish you the best of luck with your work, and we hope you will consider submitting to us again.
[WRITING REJECTION 57/100]
We are honored that you considered our magazine as a potential home for your writing.We gave “The Exhaustion of Living in a Christian Paradigm” careful consideration and, while we’re not accepting it for publication, we did enjoy reading it and hope you find a good home for it.We’ll be happy to consider any new work you care to submit in the future.
[WRITING REJECTION 58/100]
Thank you again for submitting your work to The Puritan, Issue 47: Fall 2019.
As you might imagine, our small team of volunteer readers is forced to select an extremely small number of works from the hundreds of great submissions we receive each quarter. Submissions for our Fall Issue were once again excellent, and plentiful. Although we have to pass on your work for this edition, we’re truly grateful that you were kind enough to send it our way.
All the best in your future writing. Warm wishes and good luck!
[WRITING REJECTION 59/100]
*Did not hear back in the allotted time*
That's the rant for today, babes. Almost at 60 rejections! Can you believe? Very honoured.
Until next time,
- E.B. Kirsh