no more Ms. Nice Writer
I’ve gotten decidedly snippier with the queries I send to magazines when they’ve held my story for an unreasonably long time. These aren’t your everyday queries — “hey, Strange Horizons, you say to nudge you after 70 days, so I’m politely nudging” — this is the “hey you’ve had it for a year and I queried and you said you’d gone on hiatus (would have been nice if you told anyone that) but you’d have a response for me Real Soon Now but it’s been another three months since then” kind of query.
The really sad part is, I’m betting half the short story writers reading this post just thought, “I wonder if she’s talking about Market X,” where Market X could be one of a number of different ‘zines. I’ve actually sent out more than one of these queries lately. Which is a really depressing statement on the lack of professional behavior to be found in some corners of our field. I know that precious few editors out there actually do this as a job, and I cut very large amounts of slack for that; a market pretty much has to have a regular response time above six months before I’ll consider them “slow,” and all too often I let a year go by before I actually get annoyed. But when you do things like putting your magazine or anthology on hiatus without informing the people in your slush pile (or even announcing it anywhere other people might see), or ignoring polite queries for months on end, or continually promising results you don’t deliver . . . eventually, I do lose patience.
And it’s started to show up in those late-stage queries. I’m not rude — at least, I try not to be — but I’m less forgiving. I’ve been burned a little too much lately by editors jerking me around to cut anyone endless slack anymore. I’m confident enough in myself now to say I have better things to do than waste my time on this kind of crap.
Not confident enough that I haven’t second- and third-guessed my decision to post this, but hey. I haven’t named names, and I think we do need to occasionally remind ourselves that not everything is reasonable. When I start having to specify what year a story got submitted in, things have gone too far.