Post #26 – Submission Guidelines 2 – Waiting Periods and Hard Sells


In Post #24, I discussed my strong recommendation to read and reread a market’s submission guidelines each time before submitting.  I mainly focused on the issue of a market’s preferred formatting.  However, there are two other pieces of useful information often included in submission guidelines — waiting periods and hard sells.

Most markets do not except multiple submissions, meaning a writer may not have more than one work under review at that market at a time. Some, however, also have a post-decision waiting period. Even after these markets accept or more likely reject a story, the guidelines ask a writer not to submit a new story for consideration for a period of time, which varies.

Strange Horizons asks writers to wait 7 days after receiving a rejection before submitting again. That can feel like an eternity when a writer has a story ready to go. Strange Horizons has an added quirk. It only accepts submissions from noon Eastern on Mondays to noon Eastern on Tuesday. If it rejects a story any time after Monday, a writer must wait two weeks to submit again. I’ve had this happen. I consider it a minor inconvenience though since Strange Horizons at least is open to submissions every week, unlike some other markets with much less frequent submission windows.

The longest waiting period I encountered is for Grievous Angel.  The editors there ask writers not to make new submissions within 12 weeks/three months of a previous acceptance or rejection note. The rational is this helps the editors fight their backlog. That’s a serious backlog! Granted this is a flash fiction market, so there likely are a larger number of submissions. On the other hand, other flash fiction markets do not have similar waiting periods. It may be a matter of limited staff resources. Who knows? Rest assured, I have marked on my calendar when I can submit to this market next.

Then there are those submission guidelines containing a list of hard sells. As the name suggests, these are types of stories that are not likely to be accepted by that market. Clarkesworld Magazine has a lengthy list of hard sells. Strange Horizons also includes a hard sell list, though it cautions a prior editorial team generated this list, so it does not necessarily reflect the current editorial team’s tastes.

Because a story falls into one of the hard sell categories does not mean it shouldn’t be submitted or that if submitted, it will be rejected automatically. At least I hope not. I assume the hard sell list is meant to serve as a warning that such stories need to be exceptionally good and/or take an unusual approach to the subject matter to stand a chance at acceptance.

Again, I hope that’s correct. The first two stories I wrote both involved not only time travel but easy time travel. I realize that’s a well worn sci-fi trope, and it appears on at least one hard sell list I’ve encountered. However, the time travel component was not of any significance in either story. Time travel served as a means to set up a difficult decision for the characters in the stories. I hope editors pick up on that. I also hope editors read past the time travel incident, which both times appears early in the story, and don’t simply reject the story at that point.

I have a couple other stories involving common tropes — kids find something in the woods or kids discover a ghost — but my hope with all these is I wrote them well and unique enough to find the right market.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve wrestled with the waiting periods or hard sell lists in submission guidelines.

Photo credit: DanielCubas via Pixabay

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