It’s in the mail

Recently,  John Scalzi went after the big threes (F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog) no e-subs policy.  Read it here.

He has some good points, and I agree with a lot of them.  In fact I think it’s relatively certain that they will, at some point, change.  But the fact that they haven’t yet doesn’t really bug me.

Mailing in a story is a pain.  You buy your envelopes and stamps and binders, drive in to the post office, pay for that, all so you can wait around for a form letter telling you no thanks.  All annoying.  But the most annoying thing to me about the whole submission process is not the mechanics of sending out the story.  It’s the waiting.

I have stories that have been sitting at markets for over a year.  Other markets, markets that I love, reliably take three months to return a verdict.  I have stories that have been in circulation for two to three years now, and they haven’t actually been to all that many places.  The entire process is glacially slow.

But some markets are fast.  F&SF sends me its rejections usually in ten days.  Fourteen at the longest.  And that’s with the transit time.  Asimov’s and Analog aren’t that fast, but their pretty reliable about getting something back in a month.  They take longer if their mulling it, but that’s not so bad, at least their considering buying the thing and it’s not a six month wait for a simple rejection.  So while I’m not thrilled with doing the whole snail mail thing, F&SF almost always get’s the first crack at my stories.  Cause I know I’ll get my rejection quick, and I can move on.

Of course, some of the online places are starting to do even better.   Clarkesworld and Fantasy magazine are great- they have a slick e-sub system that takes your story, let’s you track where it is in the process, and keeps tabs on what you’ve already sent them.  And they turn stuff around fast.

Which means I’ll be sending to them first, when I have somthing that fits their guidelines.  And my guess is that so will a lot of other people, which will give those markets first crack at the wonderful gems that are buried in the slush pile (The slush is full of gems!  Really!).  And so their quality goes up, and more people will read them.  Which will put pressure on the other markets, including the big three, to set up similar systems.

At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

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