fastest rejections in short literature
March 12, 2007 11:00 AM   Subscribe

What magazines have the best slush turnaround times? This is a question for submitters and editorial assistants alike about average response times for unsolicited works.

I editorial-assist and often get queries along the lines of "why are you taking so long" a month or so after a submission. This has me wondering, where are these people submitting that 6 months+ isn't the norm, where the response time isn't 2-4x as long as stated in the submission guidelines?

Alternatively, there could be a resource online that tracks this sort of thing IRT but if I can't find it, it must be somewhat hidden.

I can only think of one magazine so far: Shimmer (got back to me in about a week [!!])
posted by shownomercy to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Submitting to the Black Hole
posted by ShooBoo at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2007

Best answer: Duotrope also crunches this data for its database. Bear in mind, however, that it relies entirely on user reporting.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:47 AM on March 12, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I mostly ask here because analogous sources are hella out-of-date.

Thank you both though, exactly what I'm looking for (good job pigeon-holing me too)
posted by shownomercy at 12:04 PM on March 12, 2007

um, i think the smaller the magazine (circulation) the more prompt response will be. also, the frequency matters, don't you think? i worked on a monthly, and we'd save slush to do over the 2-3 dead days after close, or whenever the pile on the floor reached the top of my desk (and it would--we kept it in a cut-down refrigerator box).

i doubt there any reliable records on this. slush is so low-priority, it doesn't get noted when it arrives, so who knows what the shelf life is.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:24 PM on March 12, 2007

also-- these people are probably just anxious and fussy. you'll get a lot of those.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:25 PM on March 12, 2007

Quality takes time. It may mean that your pile gets a little long every so often, but that doesn't mean that you're the bad guy for holding onto a writer's manuscript for a while.

I edit a small quarterly and feel strongly that I want work that belongs in our magazine. I want the writer to make a conscious choice to send poems and microfiction to us because they like the character or mission of the mag, not because they have a book due out next year and are desperate to land this last poem. Not because they're desperate to build a CV on any magazine that will print their work.

For that reason, I don't take simultaneous submissions, and in the past, we haven't accepted e-mail submissions unless we solicited the work. I don't apologize for holding onto a writer's work, particularly if it's good and I think there's a chance I'll have space for it. Sadly, some good work gets cut because I just don't have that many pages.

Keep in mind that the writers who fuss when you hold their work are often the writers who fuss when you read the work immediately and send a timely rejection, claiming that you didn't give their work thorough consideration.
posted by RossWhite at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2007

I wonder if there's a similar service to duotrope for non-literary magazines...
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on March 12, 2007

Anxious and fussy? They're trying to get published and know that their fate is in the hands of a 20-something editorial assistant. I feel for them. And for you, too, but mostly for them. At a book publishing house where I worked (editorial assistant) in the 80s, an editor died and we found one unread manuscript that, by its postmark, had sat front and center on his file cabinet for 25 years. Poor would-be authors. Tell them that you like to take time with manuscripts and make clear decisions about them. They're just worried you're IMing your friends and listening to hip-hop while you toss aside their life work.
posted by eve harrington at 6:07 PM on March 12, 2007

Academic journals (appearing monthly or quarterly) can take 6-12 months to get back to authors.
posted by gene_machine at 5:52 AM on March 13, 2007

The internet has had a huge impact on people's expectations. Not a brush against online journals (there are several extremely good ones) but a lot of beginning writers get overly excited when they submit something to a site with a readership of five people, and get a note the next morning saying, "It's up now! LOL kthxbye!"
posted by roll truck roll at 12:39 PM on March 13, 2007

Any experienced submitter should know that they can expect a longish wait, certainly longer than a month. I share your amazement at any other expectation.

I do expect journals to post a roughly accurate response time, though - if they routinely take 2-4 times what they say they will, then they should change the posted response time to match reality. In general, I find response times roughly correct, so I presume this is what happens.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:02 PM on March 14, 2007

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