Friday, July 18, 2014


When my very first stories appeared in Analog too many years ago I used to hang around the newsstand and wait for someone to pick up one of the few copies. While I waited newbie published thoughts ran through my head: Should I offer to autograph my story? Perhaps introduce myself as one of the magazine's writers? Rip the magazine from their hands and open it to point at MY story? What would be the neatest, bestest thing to do now that I was a published author.  My first story - what a rush it would be to meet an actual reader!

And so I lurked for hours, waiting, waiting, waiting and, sadly, since no one picked up a copy I never acted out those fantasies.  Eventually, the impulse to expose myself in public faded, although I still look for someone buying those magazines when I'm in at the bookstores. Now I restrict myself with meeting a fan or two (usually less, most of the time) at conventions.

As my sales increased I began documenting my efforts recording when a piece was written, to whom I'd submitted, and when I could expect an acceptance or rejection.  That latter was more frequent than I liked, but I persevered and, over time, I was fairly able to predict how soon I'd get a reply from any specific editor. My list also clued me as to when I needed to send a gentle reminder that I still existed and was waiting for a reply.

I learned that some editors take a long time, others a very long time, or in a few forgotten cases, an eternity.  I placed the more tardy editors at the bottom of the rotation. I did have a cut off when it was obvious there would never be a reply of any sort, which also removed that editor from future consideration. Rudeness should not be rewarded. I'd rather an unequivocal rejection than no answer at all.

You would think that receiving an acceptance by a magazine would be the end state - joy at the notification and happiness when the check arrives.  But acceptance is one thing and publication another.  First you wait for the galleys to arrive, a sure sign of imminent publication, you hope.  There is no certainty, even at this stage.  Few editors provide an anticipated publication date, so I am constantly in a state of uncertainty after the notice contract, check, and galleys. Will it appear next month,  some future month, next year, of in a fat collection?  Author copies arrive after distribution so you have to check again; waiting.

Some things never change.


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