The Waiting Game

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Regarding writing

One thing that doesn’t often get mentioned with regards to being a writer is the amount of time you spend sitting around waiting for others to make decisions about your work.

We spend ages writing our tales of terror or romance (or terrible romance) and then send them off to agents or publishers, to editors of anthologies and magazines, and then we expect a quick response. Only it’s rare you’ll get that. Some publishers are very good, I know of quite a few who have a quick turnaround, sometimes as speedy as a few days.

Other publishers take a while longer, weeks, months…I’ve submitted several comic scripts to 2000AD and it can take up to a year to hear back from them.

This delay can seem annoying, but once you factor in just how many submissions a publisher might get sent to them in a single day, and given they have more things to do with their time than just reading through their slush pile it makes a lot of sense.

Besides, a long wait can be good sometimes. Sure it’s nice when someone responds really quickly, but nine times out of ten a quick response is a negative response, and sometimes getting that kick in the teeth so quickly after sending a story in can make the rejection all the harder to take.

Because the curious thing about waiting to hear back from a publisher or agent is that, whilst it can be a frustrating time, it can also be a hopeful one, because much like Schrodinger’s Cat whilst you’re waiting to hear back the story is neither accepted or rejected. Sometimes limbo is a good thing, no news is good news and all that!

Plus, although it would be churlish to suggest this is always true, as a rule of thumb the longer someone holds onto your story before making a decision, the more they probably like it. This is especially true of publishers who have several submission rounds.

The downside to this of course is that the longer you wait the more you might get your hopes up. It’s like a cup run in football. If you’re knocked out in the first round you might be annoyed but you can move on, but if you keep winning the closer and closer you get to Wembley the more you start to think that this might be your year, that you might lift the cup!

That’s the situation I’m in at the moment, and what prompted this post. I’ve submitted several stories to an online magazine who are a professional rates paying publisher, so to get a story published by them would be a pretty big deal. They can take several weeks to make a decision, and they make it clear that they have several submission rounds. Currently I’ve had three or four rejections from them, several of which have come with nice feedback.

The current submission has been with them longer than any others, and that means, despite my best efforts to try not to, that I’m starting to get my hopes up. If it is successful there will be a hint of irony involved given the story in question is one of the ones I mention here, namely the one I really had to force myself to write.

By the time you read this I might have already received a rejection for the story, but you never know…

Hope springs eternal for the dedicated writer!

  1. Mim says:

    Good luck with the submission!

  2. starkers70 says:

    Drat, rejection now recieved!

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