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Response Times

In a previous post we had a discussion of simultaneous submissions. One issue that came up was the relationship between simultaneous submissions and long review periods.

Recently I took a look at my own submission-review history.

During the last 12 months or so, I’ve received 44 responses that I was able to log on Duotrope (I received some others from mags that aren’t tracked on Duotrope). Some of these were repeats, as I tend to throw stories at my favorite mags first. The median response time for all 44 responses was 30 days, which is really rather good. (The longest response time, 92 days, was an outlier, and was from a contest, where I knew in advance how long it was going to take.) I have no problem giving a mag an exclusive submission when I can rely on a response in a month or two.

Looking at all the responses together, there’s a large bunch of very swift responses (1-10 days) from places like GUD and F&SF; a second bunch of responses from places like Analog or Asimov’s at the 40-50 day mark, and then another bunch in the vicinity of 70 days. On the whole, this is rather comforting; it’s a livable set of waiting periods. I derive even more comfort from mags like Strange Horizons, which makes an ironclad promise to respond to each submission within 70 days. Again, giving a mag like SH an exclusive submission is fine, because I know that I’ll have their answer within a reasonable time (most of my responses from SH have been considerably shorter than 70 days, BTW).

But, among the submissions from which I have not yet received responses, the median waiting time (so far) is up to 50 days, and the three longest waits are now 186, 180 and 166 days. According to Duotrope, the average waiting time for current pending submissions on those three mags are 205, 248 and 213 days, respectively; all three of these average waiting periods have been steadily increasing for months, and I see reports of responses from them once a week at most. I will admit to getting pretty impatient with them.

By the way, I notice that the markets that allow simsubs are usually the swift markets like GUD. The guys who take a year to review your story usually want to be the only ones looking at it at the time. As I think I’ve said before, I’d have no problem if it were the other way ’round. If the ones who took 30 days wanted exclusive subs, but the ones who took 200 days allowed simsubs, I’d be happy.

As it is, I’ll have to think about how badly I want to be published in mags like the three unnamed above, which take forever to respond but want to be the only game in town when they do. It’s not considerate or fair — so the question is, are they worth it?

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