Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Thursday, 05 December 2002

Spent some time today on market research. (Basically, I pulled up the most recent issue of Speculations and read through the list of markets, thinking about the two stories that I'm going to have to trunk if I can't find someplace to send them.)

There are some markets out there that I haven't tried yet, but each one seems to have some serious defect. I'll see something that looks quite plausible--looking for stories like what I write and paying pro rates--and then I'll see that they haven't actually published an issue since early 2000 or that their average response time is 200 days.

I suppose you can make a case for submitting to a market with six-month response times. How would that be worse than letting the story sit on my hard drive for the same period of time? But as average response times go beyond 90 days or so, I can't help but feel that an editor who handles submissions so casually probably handles other things in a similarly slipshod way, and I just lose interest in having a business relationship with the publication.

There are a couple of possibilities still, in the form of UK and Canadian markets. But those are just enough extra work (in terms of return postage) that I'm procrastinating a bit longer before going to that much trouble.

The two stories that I did get ready to go yesterday will actually go out tomorrow. What with getting to bed late and then heading out early tomorrow to take the cat to the vet, the post office did not figure in my schedule today. (And just as well--I only remembered this evening that I needed to put stamps on my SASEs.)

So, I'm going to call step one (getting my completed stories back out to markets) done. It's not, quite, but I've made enough headway that I'm ready to go on to step two, which is to get a couple of the stories I've had critiqued revised and out to markets.

I'd actually made a plan for this back in August. I made an ordered list of stories to rewrite and started re-writing the top story, "Snare." I know I did a good bit of rewriting, but I don't quite remember where I left off. I'll take a look tomorrow. I'll get it out shortly and at least one other.

I don't remember exactly what criteria I used to order the list. At Clarion James Patrick Kelly suggested "salability" as the way to order stories for rewrite, and I'm sure that figured into it. I think I also moved stories up the list if I knew what I wanted to do in the re-write and moved them down the list if I had no idea how to fix them.

Tomorrow's journal entry should be about re-writing rather than putting mss in the mail, which should be more interesting. At least you won't have to listen to a bunch of feeble excuses of why I'm not getting stories submitted to new markets. Long response times indeed!

Actually, I've got something to say about the topic of long response times.

Let's say X is the number of mss received by the editor in a typical month and Y is the number of mss dealt with in a typical month. There are only three possibilities: X is bigger, Y is bigger, or they're both about the same. Most of the markets with really long response times aren't getting steadily worse, they've achieved steady-state. In that case, there's no reason for the response time to be so high.

Sure, editors might reasonably let mss accumulate and then read a whole bunch at once. Sure, magazines with an editorial team might need to have a series of people read the top candidates before a final section is made. Sure, once a backlog is established, it might be very hard to work down. But still: 200 days? 300 days? That's ridiculous!

In case you were worrying: Rapunzel is fine.


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