How long is too long?

Submission periods. There is nothing expeditious in the writing/publishing arena, except for the time it takes for a reader to download your book – at least we have that.

I’ve spent much of this year researching submissions, submitting, querying, etc. and feeling a little frustrated with the number of submissions still hanging out in cyber slush piles. I understand time constraints, but how much time do you allow markets to make a decision on your submission, especially if they go past their own deadline? Sure, we can query about our submission, but that in the end also takes time, time in writing and time in waiting for that response.

Most markets give an average timeline of how long it will take to get back to you about your submission, but lately, I’ve noticed many of them exceeding this mark. Some writers may take this as a rejection, but a few of my biggest acceptances went twice as long in the submission period before they were accepted, which made for obvious complications with other markets.

I don’t like to simultaneous sub my stories – I usually pick specific markets to publish my stories in and then patiently wait out their worst-case response time. But I also dislike waiting too long for a piece to receive feedback, because come time to sub it again, I find that I’ve spent so much time researching, rewriting, querying, and subbing, that it begins to interfere with my general writing time, like life itself isn’t enough.

Shouldn’t editors be held accountable for the timelines they give just as they hold writers accountable for the smallest of details in their submission guidelines? If I miss their deadline period or accidentally indent my paragraphs when I’m not supposed to, I’m out of luck – REJECTED BEFORE READING they spell out in caps. But if they miss their deadline period…I’m still the one that’s out of luck.

5 thoughts on “How long is too long?

  1. Waiting times make me sad. Although I will say that in crime fiction, almost without exception editors get back to me within three months — and most much quicker than that, like a week or two.

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  2. No one ever said the publishing game was fair. I am so relieved that I'm not in the query go round any longer. I don't like the idea of a handful of people deciding the fate of a writer and then dictating to the rest of the reading public what they should read.I wish you luck on your journey. Yes, agents and publishers usually go beyond their own deadlines. One bit of advice – you have to do simultaneous submissions (unless an agent specifically says they won't look at it if you do).

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  3. Hi, Erin. Thanks for the post. Even though no one really can say anything to help you through this time, your post will help others, just knowing that they are not alone.Wishing you the very best.-Jimmy

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