An idea for improving SF story submission systems

I have just been wandering through Duotrope over my post-dinner cup of coffee and am now puzzled as to what is going on in the world of science fiction.

I checked up on Analog… according to Duotrope they have replied to submissions sent in up to 11th August this year, and yet their mean average response time 30.1 days with a median of 15 days. It’s now 107 days since the 11th August – it could be duotrope’s software is not working (unlikely as reports are still coming in for other magazines) or Analog is suffering from a unhealthy backlog (even though they are still publishing to schedule) or something could have just gone plain wrong with Analog’s submissions system.

Now, I once submitted a story to another magazine and it took over 2 years for them to get back to me with a rejection. Yes, TWO years plus! So naturally I would like to be able to pull a story out of the submission queue for whatever good reason, including if I think the magazine might be in difficulties getting through their submissions. But can I find a mechanism in Analog’s automated system to do this? No.

On the other hand, I checked with Specutopia, who again according to duotrope, replied to submissions as late as 22nd July 2012. Now they do have a mechanism for withdrawing a submission. It’s not the most elegant way of notifying them, but it’s there and can be used. So full marks to Sepcutopia for having the ability to notify them about withdrawals.

I’m sure most magazines are well meaning and trying to do an honest job, so they deserve a minimum amount of time to be able read and consider the submission. So can we have an automated system that allows an author the ability to withdraw a submission after a time set by the magazine please? Any software developers up for the job?

As for me, I’m trying to figure how I can pull my story out the Analog queue when it’s been there for four months, on the assumption they haven’t rejected it by then. I do hope that both Analog and Specutopia are having a hiatus and normal service will resume shortly, or that whatever is wrong in Duotrope’s submissions reporting system is identified and fixed. Science fiction needs all three, Analog, Specutopia and Duotrope to be up and working.

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2 thoughts on “An idea for improving SF story submission systems

  1. Interesting article. I find if I have not received a reply of acknowledgement or acceptance/rejection of said article after six months, I offer work to another market. We writers can not live on air.

  2. In both the cases I mentioned, I got an automated acknowledgement.

    Even so, your point about about six months is well made and maybe should be the accepted default standard for such automated systems.

    Even more important is the point about writers needing a living wage. I feel that at the moment because very few writers are paid this, we are not attracting some of the brightest and best talent into the publishing industry, not just science fiction. Which means there isn’t the material to get and keep people interested. So we end up in a vicious circle – less interesting material around means less readers willing to pay money, which in turn fewer writers can live off writing, which means less material….

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