All Systems Orange

Since Duotrope went to a subscription service at the start of this year, I’ve been using The (Submission) Grinder to track what slush piles my various stories are visiting at any given time.  If you’re not aware of The Grinder, and your serious about submitting your speculative fiction, I suggest you check them out.  Much like Duotrope, they have a searchable market database and easy submission tracking.  Unlike Duotrope, they don’t charge for the service, believing your data are what make the site valuable and thus are payment enough.  They’ve also been around for over 8 months now and continue to have a growing user base, so it looks like they’ll be around for a while.

My apologies if this sounds like an advertisement—I guess it is in away—but what I really wanted to talk about was response times…again.  A while ago I looked at my response times because I felt markets had gotten slower in responding in 2013.  The data didn’t support my feeling, however.  But dang it!  Every submission I currently have out has turned orange or red in The Grinder, which means that it’s either been out longer than the average response time (orange) or longer than the publisher’s response time listed in their guidelines (red).

I should be viewing this as a positive sign, right?

That would be Rejectomancy, says that little voice in my ear.  You know, reading into how long a story has been sitting in a slush pile like it were a scattering of tea leaves.  I know it means nothing.  The overall rejection rate doesn’t change no matter how long my story sits unread on an editor’s virtual desk.  Most of those orange and reds will still come back with some version of the authorial Dear John letter—you know the form rejection I’m talking about.

I guess all there is to do is get back to writing and editing.  That novel isn’t going to edit itself; neither will those short stories.

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About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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2 Responses to All Systems Orange

  1. Colum Paget says:

    I’m telling you, it’s real. In the past year I’ve had stories out for well over the time periods that I would expect to wait. 100 days has become the norm. It seems that I manage to submit just before an editor gets sick/gets a book deal/goes into labor. I’ve not had anyone actually die on me yet, but it can only be a matter of time. None of this stuff was happening prior to 2013.

    • I hear you. I feel the same way, but I looked at the data I had a while ago and didn’t find anything real. There were a few more and bigger outliers in 2012/2013 than previously, but there wasn’t an increase in the average. For every market sitting at 100+ days (and I also had/have several), I get also got some one- or two-day turnarounds and a lot of one month turnarounds. Maybe with more data, I’ll start to see a real upward trend in response time; I’ll have to take another look in a few months.

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