Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Waiting and Worrying

Something that we all worry about – waiting times. How long does it take from posting your story off to getting a verdict?

Well I thought I’d list out the magazines and try to give some idea of how long the wait is – generally - but when I started to count days, weeks, months – years . . . it’s impossible to say! I may as well tell you how long a piece of string is. It’s about . . . well this long . . . see?

It’s handy having friends who write for the same magazines.
“Have you heard anything recently?”
“No, how about you?”
“Not a thing, but so-and-so had one accepted last week and I heard someone else had one taken the week before so they’re obviously still buying . . .”

Cue avalanche of doubt and despair, often followed by avalanche of big brown envelopes through the letterbox (speaking of which I had two more this morning).

In the case of the People’s Friend, no news is quite likely to be good news, but it isn’t set in stone. They do tend to turn rejections round pretty fast though so if you haven’t heard anything don’t despair!

Not so with the other mags. I’ve had stories rejected and accepted within a week of sending them in. I’ve had stories rejected after a year of waiting and others accepted after six months.

They have to be read by more than one person – several in some cases. If you’ve sent two in and one comes winging its way back, you know the other one has probably gone on for a further reading and is in with a chance.

It would be nice wouldn’t it, to follow a story on its journey, to see what happens when it arrives, who reads it and what the process is? Or maybe it’s better left as a bit of a mystery!

What about chasing them up? I’d give it six months – at least! I’ve chased up stories in the past only to have them arrive with rejection slips days later. Would they have held on to them for future consideration if I’d left it? Or were they rejections that had simply been forgotten? Who knows? I don’t.

And just to illustrate why you should never give up, a friend of mine recently sold a story she’d written in 2001. It was entered for two or three competitions, but wasn’t suitable for any of the magazines. However, there was something she liked about the story and she rewrote it and sent it off to five different magazines in turn – the fifth one bought it.

The same friend had a rejection from The Lady after two years – her story had fallen down the back of somewhere and they’d only just found it. Best magazine found one of hers in a filing cabinet after eight months – and rejected it.

There are stories of mine that have been out there for years. I assume they’ve been lost or forgotten (maybe they’ve fallen down the back of somewhere) and one of these days I’ll get round to resubmitting them – maybe.

I wish I could have been more helpful! But it may help to know we are all crammed into the same little boat – waiting . . .


  1. I'm inclined to think we're better not knowing! As you say it's so variable it can be really hard to second guess what's going on anyway.

    These days I try really hard to send things off and then forget about them and use the energy to write new stories. Can't help the odd look at my subs sheet and a bit of a daydream though!

  2. I suppose the only thing to do is write more whilst we wait.

  3. I'm inclined to think it's got worse just lately. I used to reckon on 3 to 4 months and probably earlier if they didn't like it, but now it really is, as you say, how long is a piece of string? I agree with you, that Thomson mags seem to be using up stock, but some people are getting acceptances, so they must still be buying. I think Helen and Patsy are right: there is nothing to do but keep on writing and forget about what we've already sent in. That way, when/if they come back as rejections, we've still got loads out there still in with a chance. I must admit that the lack of information about what actually happens mag-side is frustrating though!

  4. A timely post as I was just debating whether or not to contact Woman's Weekly about a story they've had almost 8 months - I keep thinking as soon as I ask, there's bound to be a rejection, so I put it off, but it IS frustrating not knowing - especially as it's a story I think another magazine would like!

  5. I've been trying to decide whether I should chase up the three stories which I submitted in October and November as well.
    Probably best not to, I suppose. I don't want to annoy the fiction editors, but it's certainly very frustrating having to wait so long, and there's always a slight chance that the submission might have got lost in the post and you're waiting for something that's never going to happen either way!

  6. Elizabeth McKay27 May 2009 at 15:34

    I also think the waiting time is getting longer, even with the magazines that used to be fairly quick at responding. I'm rubbish at chasing them up. Teresa, Best once found one of mine in a drawer as well - I wonder if it was the same one as your friend's was in!

  7. I've tried working it out and also failed. And I've never had an acceptance after a chase. So now, as you say, I just wait and hope and wait some more. Although there is the occasional speedy response, overall it has definitely slowed down.

  8. You’re right, Helen, better to keep writing and try to forget what’s out there. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional daydream though!

    Yes, Patsy – keep writing, that’s all we can do.

    It would be interesting to know what happens mag side wouldn’t it, Lydia.

    I know what you mean, Karen. I hate chasing stories, but I would think after eight months you’d be justified in asking, particularly as you’ve got somewhere else in mind for it if it does come back.

    Susan one of the recent WW rejections I had was from last October. Hope your news is better when it comes.

    Probably was the same drawer, Elizabeth!

    Now I come to think of it, Bernadette, I don’t think I’ve ever had an acceptance after a chase either!

  9. Great to find your blog, Teresa! I don't have a problem with WW and FF but I do have some stories that have been on the shortlist with an Australian magazine since a year last April. When I queried them I was told quite cheerfully that there is no end waiting time. They are in a pool where they will stay until ---- well, I don't know. Till I fall off the perch, maybe! Thing is, they may as well stay there because there is nothing else I can do with them, as they're all stories that have sold in the UK.

  10. That’s a long time to be waiting, Geri, but as you say if they’ve already been published here they may as well stay in that Australian pool for the duration!

  11. I just wish some magazines wouldn't have a 'clear out' and reject everything on the same day. Five back from the same magazine on the same day is my record so far, despite the fact that there were often several weeks that passed between their submissions!

  12. I've only recently started sending short stories out, so it was good to read your post.

    I suppose I shall just keep writing and sending them out.

  13. I always live in hope until the inevitable sickening thud on the doormat. Would you call that optimism? Or just foolishness?

  14. Glad to find you here in blogland!
    I always look at how crumpled a rejected story is, trying to work out if it was considered!

  15. I know what you mean about the “clear outs”, Simon! A long time ago, my long suffering other started to hide the big brown envelopes so he could eke them out to me over several days, but in some ways that was worse, it just prolonged the agony!

    Yes, keep writing and sending, Debs!

    Optimism, Suzanne! Positive thinking.

    Me too, Amanda!

  16. Glynis Scrivens29 May 2009 at 07:42

    Re that Australian mag, I had a story used in the autumn issue that had been shortlisted since Feb 08, and some of mine shortlisted there date back to end 2007. So don't give up on them.
    Am recovering from the latest clear outs myself

  17. Thanks for that Glynis! I wait with bated breath!

  18. By amazing coincidence, having asked you if five months was a normal waiting time after a rewrite with PF, I have just heard today that my story has been accepted. It's my first one after a fair few rejections and well worth waiting for. Thank you for the advice. I'm glad I didn't chase it.

  19. Thanks, Glynis - that's good to know - about the waiting times I mean, not the clear outs!

    Excellent news, Joanna! Well worth waiting for!