I had no idea what they were talking about, and briefly wondered if it was spam. The story title didn’t ring a bell, nor did the magazine name. It’s been a few years since I submitted any short stories for publication in magazines. In fact, I stopped a couple of years ago when I decided to combine my best stories into The Eleventh Hour and Lost and Found. I scrolled down, and was alarmed to see the submission date in the original message was February 19, 2012. I actually mentioned the upcoming release of Anywhere But Here in the query (Anywhere was published by Whiskey Creek Press in April 2012).
I didn’t know what to think. My first thought was wow, you sure are behind on your slush pile. Then I noticed that the email was from the magazine editor, and rejections are usually delegated to other staff. Obviously, I assumed the story was rejected and didn’t need confirmation nearly six and a half years later. In the end, I decided to assume the best: it slipped through the cracks, and the editor decided to do the right thing and respond, even though it wasn’t necessary. If I remember correctly, it’s standard to assume that you’ve been rejected after 3-6 months, unless the publisher indicates that a longer wait period applies.
I tell this story for two reasons: first, it’s amusing. Second, it demonstrates the point of being able to let things go and move on. I decided to go fully indie and self publish in 2013 when my self published titles started outselling my books published through epublishers. But this reminded me of a second reason why I made that decision: traditional publishing is slow. I’ve developed relationships with a cover artist, beta readers, and editors who are also indies that will work with your schedule, instead of being bound by a publishers que and contractual obligations on response times and reviews. It’s nice to be able to pick who I work with, and to do it on a collaborative schedule directly with the other person. I’d be a fool to keep knocking on the brass doors of traditional publishing when I’ve found something that works better for me. Obviously I (like many other writers) don’t have the connections, money, or crazy luck to break into that world anyway.
The traditional industry survives, and there are those who wouldn’t consider anything else. If that’s your thing, that’s ok. It’s a big world, and there’s room for us all in it. If you don’t like my work and I know somebody whose writing is more your style, then I’ll be glad to give you a referral. All readers deserve access to what they enjoy, and personal tastes are highly subjective. There really isn’t a right or wrong – just what’s right for you.
I kept that email because it reminds me that there are folks in the traditional publishing industry who want to encourage all writers, and to offer readers the best quality possible. We do share a common love of books and reading. I hope that someday our common ground will widen to end our disparities and expand opportunities for all readers and writers, regardless of publishing choices.
It’s a shame that I didn’t keep that story, as it’s a title that I dismissed as nonpunishable. Geese, it was powerful and evocative. I regret letting that one get away! It just goes to show that you never know what will resonate with readers.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.