Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Submission processes - how they change

B. Miller one of the writers in my writers' group wrote a great blog on submitting by mail. She's been submitting many of her great horror short stories lately, but has only submitted by mail a few times in the past and once recently. She offers many insights into that now, mostly outdated method, and how the ritual, while expensive and time consuming, does make you feel more viscerally involved with the cycle.

However, I'm going to discuss the latest submission angle: the online forms many presses are now using. While I find them to be time consuming, I can see why a magazine which receives hundred of submissions a month, uses them to help track manuscripts. However, I'm not sure I like the feeling of sending subs out and having no record that the stories made it. Sure, many mags send an automatic response within a few days, but some don't. I feel some manuscripts get lost in the ether or either the response ends up blocked because its considered spam. Recently, I've had more than a few subs never receive a response, some of these from big magazines.
Are any of writers out there having the same problem?

I've taken off all my spam filters but still don't know if it's on my end of theirs. And while I keep records of all my subs on Duotrope, I also liked the back up system of checking sent emails for exact dates and even content.
As writers, we're constantly having to adapt to the markets, and many of the advances in online submission make our lives easier, but there are times when it feels less like we talk to an editorial board and more like we only communicate with computers. It's a dilemma with no easy answer and as an editor, I'm thrilled that so many people are writing - and writing good works, but I would hate to see the personal connection lost, at least from time to time. Already, writers work and live in a void. Unlike artists and musicians, we don't have the chance to see our audience's response. I'd hate to see one more connection for writers to work with human beings fade away.


  1. The world is changing, for sure. I haven't done too many e-submissions, but they don't feel all that more impersonal than snail mail submissions. Either way, you send them off and wait. Sometimes it seems the only way to personalize querying is to go to conferences and try to meet agents and editors you're interested in. Of course, if you're submitting to magazines, anthologies, or journals, those editors are not at as many conferences as book editors.

    Straight From Hel

  2. I know the form you're talking about, and it makes me nervous too. Pedestal Magazine has a form you copy and paste your piece into, and then hit send. I prefer sending my own document, because I know the formatting's correct, plus I'm a weirdo superstitious freak like that, and I want to send them the copy I've poured all my writing hoodoo into (hey, that rhymed!).

    Sadly I think we'll be seeing more and more of these submittal forms, though, if for no other reason than it makes life easier for the publishing markets out there. And in that vein, I guess it's something we should at least try to embrace.

  3. The world is changing!
    I bet the form rejection letter is the same though. If there is one, I guess.


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