Any of you who are short story writers will be familiar with the agony (and occasional ecstasy) of the submission process. The gap between sending a finished story out into the big wide world and hearing back from an editor can be as short as a day or two (though that’s rare) up to many months or years even (also, thankfully, rare). The longest time I had a piece out on submission before an acceptance was a little over a year.
That’s just a fact of life for short story submissions. Many of the publishing venues are run by enthusiasts who devote a considerable amount of their spare time to publishing their ’zine and it would be churlish of authors to expect fast turn-around times (but all credit to those that do manage it). Even the professional magazines work to busy schedules and have limited budgets and overworked staff which means it can take months to work through the submission slush pile.
Of course, if the submission outcome is an acceptance then the wait, no matter how many weeks, months or years, disappears in the unbridled joy of the moment. An acceptance! Yay! Though sadly, more often than not, the only result of all that waiting is a polite rejection.
So you’ll understand my amazement and disbelief at what happened last week. I began a writing session by sending off a previously completed story to a prime market. That job done, I settled down with my current work-in-progress. About 45 minutes later an email landed in my inbox from the publication I’d just submitted to. Of course, receiving a submission acknowledgement is pretty standard but when I opened it up… My story had been accepted for publication!
This was a pro market, too! (Probably best I don’t say which one at this time as the editor won’t thank me for setting expectations that may be difficult to meet on a regular basis!) The editor wrote me a very nice message saying that he happened to see the story land in the submission queue, read it and felt it clicked immediately and so sent the acceptance.
I’ve been doing this long enough to know just how rare an occurrence this is. From submission to return of a signed contract in less than an hour! This never happens! (And the fact that it’s a pro market that I respect highly is just icing on the cake. Something like this has never happened before and I doubt it will happen again – just a very fortunate set of circumstances. But all the same, I’m very happy that it did.