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View Full Version : When do you follow up on a follow-up?



Casey Karp
11-12-2015, 03:41 AM
Bear with me while I walk through the chronology here.

I submitted a short story to a well-known SFF magazine. According to their submission guidelines, it's OK to ping them if you haven't heard back after three months. I waited four, sent a follow-up, and was told that they were just then getting to the submissions from when I submitted. I should, I was told, hear something within a few weeks.

Time goes by, I get absorbed in writing novels, and I suddenly realize that it's been a year since my follow-up. The submission still shows as "Open" in their online system, so I sent a polite nudge via e-mail.

It's been two weeks with no response. Should I send a follow-up on the follow-up ("Hi! I'm sending an e-mail to see if you got my e-mail!" [I detect a possible logical fallacy here...])? Or give it a while longer?

Fruitbat
11-12-2015, 07:48 AM
I'd just move on and submit it elsewhere.

If they decide they want it and it's still available, fine. If not, that's their fault, not yours.

Jamesaritchie
11-12-2015, 09:15 PM
At this point, I'd either send a second follow up now, a bit stronger one detailing how long it's been, and how many follow ups you've sent, and then wait a month for the reply, or I'd send an e-mail withdrawing the story from the market.

But I am extremely patient. I've found that patience really is a virtue, and I made one on my best and most lucrative short story sales after waiting a bit over two years for a reply.

If it's a good market, I really don't care at all how long they take. Two days, two weeks, two months, or two years, it's all the same to me because nothing depends on any single story. If you wish to be a successful short story writer, you will almost certainly need to be a prolific short story writer. If you are prolific, and if you have as many stories in circulation at any one time as you should have, then you'll hear from one market or another pretty much every week, so how long it takes to hear back from any story is meaningless.

But if you don't want to wait, always send an e-mail withdrawing the story. This is polite, it's good business, and it can stop hard feelings that can come back to bite you.

Polenth
11-12-2015, 10:15 PM
It depends what magazine. Some are known for taking a year or so to get back to people. Some are known for getting back to people within a few days. Some might have closed since you first submitted, but that information isn't on their site. (In recent closures, Ideomancer appears to be gone, so anyone waiting on them should move on at this point.)

But not knowing which market it is, you've answered the main reason for querying. You know they have the story and nothing went wrong. They're being slow because they're slow. Sending more followups won't make them work faster. Your main choice here is to wait it out or withdraw. I don't see anything to gain by sending more emails asking what's happening, as you know it's because they're being slow.

Do make sure they are still open though. The info on the Grinder (http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/) will give you an idea if they're still responding to people, and they'll mark dead markets once that becomes apparent.

Casey Karp
11-12-2015, 11:09 PM
Heh. OK, let me clarify a little.

I'm perfectly willing to wait as long as it takes. Tongue-in-cheek comment about getting distracted is only partly true. In truth, I don't have the short story output to be a "short story writer". I just happened to come up with this idea that didn't make sense as a novel.

Polenth, thanks for the pointer to Grinder--I know the magazine is still in business, and Grinder confirms that they can be very slow in responding--but it's obvious that I'm out on the right end of the curve.

My concern here is that my original ping (at the fourth month mark) was answered in four days. My second ping (16 months) is unanswered after more than two weeks. Is it reasonable to assume that my e-mail--or their response--went astray and re-ping, or just take a zen approach and figure that at some point I'll hear back about the story, ping or no?

Polenth
11-13-2015, 01:46 AM
My concern here is that my original ping (at the fourth month mark) was answered in four days. My second ping (16 months) is unanswered after more than two weeks. Is it reasonable to assume that my e-mail--or their response--went astray and re-ping, or just take a zen approach and figure that at some point I'll hear back about the story, ping or no?

As the first message went through and got a response, I'd be more likely to assume they were just really behind on everything. Slow submission responses often mean slow responses to everything. I think I've had two situations where emails didn't get there, out of everyone I've emailed. Missing emails don't happen as often as people simply putting off responding.

Odd though it sounds from a logical perspective, people can often be slower in responding when they feel bad for not responding.

Casey Karp
11-13-2015, 11:12 PM
Odd though it sounds from a logical perspective, people can often be slower in responding when they feel bad for not responding.

What, you mean editors are human too? Who knew?! :tongue

Seriously, Polenth, sounds like good advice. I'll just hang loose and try not to obsess any more than I absolutely have to.