Sunday, 19 September 2010

Turning Response Times into a Positive Thing

Writers always complain about response times. And rightly so. They do mostly serve publishers rather than authors. But I think we can see them as a positive thing. If we let ourselves.

Consider this: every magazine allowed simultaneous submissions and responded within a week. So you send out your ms to every magazine all at once. Then you realise: there's a spelling mistake! You've missed out an all-important scene! The characterisation is a bit more wooden than you realised! But it's too late. Every magazine in the world responds as one to say, 'Sorry, we're not interested.' And now you have nowhere to submit that story to.

Okay, this is an extreme example, but think about it. Response times actually give you opportunities to reflect on your ms and think if it really is the best it could be. It also gives you the occasionaly opportunity to pick up tips and hints during the rejection process (that is, if you're ever lucky enough not to just get a form rejection).

So instead of just waiting with bated breath, turn the waiting period into a time of revision and reflection. And hope that at least if you get a rejection, you also get at least an idea of how the ms could be improved.

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