Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm Very Busy and Successful and Have Completely Forgotten You Said You Would Look at That Months Ago

There is a website - tied in with a publisher - which runs articles and short stories from their authors. I contacted them to ask if they accepted submissions or if all the short stories were commissioned.
I received a lovely response from the webmaster explaining that the stories were in fact commissioned but that the editor had agreed to take a submitted story under consideration if I felt it would fit the website.
I had a minor heart attack and wrote a short story specifically for the site and submitted it about 6 weeks after receiving the email.
3 months later, I had not heard back and I sent a follow-up mail to the webmaster - really checking to find out if it was a silent rejection.
She apologised for the delay and explained that the editor was VERY busy. She confirmed that the editor always responded to submissions but that currently there were a lot of projects happening and she could not make any promises as to how long it would take for my story to get read. She ended the email saying that there would be no hard feelings if I wished to withdraw it due to the length of time it was taking.
I responded, agreeing to leave the story with them.
It has now been 6 months. I feel I should not get in touch again unless I wish to withdraw my (exclusive) submission - nagging is clearly not helpful. I could just leave it with them forever (selling one short story will not pay my rent!) but I'm starting to worry that I'm looking a bit sad and desperate. If the editor hasn't read it by now, it clearly isn't a priority (and why should it be) and maybe I should just move on?
From your side of the desk:
* is leaving it (as an exclusive submission) with an editor who has expressed no interest pitiful?
Not necessarily. If that's really the only place you'd like to see that story published, there's no harm in letting some time go by.
And the ideal author (from an editor's point of view) is one who keeps her/himself very busy--spending time working, creating, and submitting rather than worrying. So try to be that kind, or, failing that, simply try to give the editor that impression.
* is withdrawing it after 6 months (or a year or whatever) due to lack of response acting like a primadonna when I was offered a special opportunity to submit?
No. If that's what you want to do, feel free.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't get it--how this was a special opportunity. It sounds like the editor didn't even know what the story was about or who the author was. Just that he would consider a submission if an author felt it would fit. Doesn't sound like much on which to hang one's hat. I'd pull it and move on.

J. L. Bell said...

I look at this situation through the lens of the Monkey Theory of Management. That holds that all office works consists of moving monkeys from one desk to another: "Here, now it's your job to look after this until you can leave it in someone else's office."

The webmaster got a message (a monkey) from a hopeful author. Rather than make or enforce a policy about non-commissioned stories, the webmaster decided to send the monkey on to the editor. But that backfired. Since the webmaster is the writer's only contact, the follow-up inquiries (more of the same monkey) are still in her office. There's no indication that the editor is bothered by the monkey hanging around the building.

Sometimes submitting through unorthodox channels works. Sometimes it doesn't.

sylvia said...

I love the title of this post - says it all really!

Anonymous said...

QUOTE: "...is withdrawing it after 6 months (or a year or whatever) due to lack of response acting like a primadonna..."

Oy, girl, 6 months and you are accusing yourself of acting like a primadonna? Snap out of it. Move on. THEY are in the wrong. Six months is a long ass time.

Keep it there if you want, but don't hold your breath for anything to come of it. I doubt this is your fault. People in this business are screwy, after all, and do not go by the same measurments of time (days, weeks, months) that the rest of us do.

You've been held hostage long enough, free yourself.

Work on something new. DON'T submit it to them.