Anatomy of a Fantasy Magazine Submission
by Grayson Bray Morris
This essay was first published in June 2011 on this site. Its permalink is here.
Thanks to the awesomeness that is Neil Clarke’s story submission software for science fiction and fantasy publishers (whichFantasy Magazine also uses), the obsessive writer can plunge into rejectomancy of heretofore untold depths. I present to you the blow-by-blow of my most recent submission to John Joseph Adams at Fantasy.
6:21 PM, June 24, 2011 – I enter the queue “Received” at #12.
6:23 PM, June 24, 2011 – I’m already down to #9. Holy moly! They’re moving fast.
6:24 PM, June 24, 2011 – Still “Received” at #9.
6:25 PM, June 24, 2011 – Still “Received” at #9.
6:26, 6:27, …. 8:32 PM, June 24, 2011 – Still “Received” at #9. Yeah, this is productive. It’s time for bed; I’ll read the rejection e-mail in the morning.
(Actual sleep occurs)
4:41 AM, June 25, 2011 – No rejection yet…hey, I’m “Under Review” at #7. Ooooooh! I wonder how long I’ve been under review. I wonder if I can find out how long I’ve been under review. I wonder if I can maybe write some code to figure out how long I’ve been under review. Next time, I am definitely not going to sleep until I am already under review, so I’ll actually know how long I stay under review. I…oh, right. I’m supposed to be writing now.
(Actual writing occurs)
6:49 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review,” but now I’m at #1. This means something, right? Right?
6:50 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. Hell yeah this means something! It means six other poor souls got their rejections, but I am still in the running!
7:00 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. No one can ever take these twelve minutes ever away from me, EVER!
7:08 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. More immortal minutes of awesomeness! And they’re REAL MINUTES, because in JJA’s native California, it’s only 10:08 PM…and he’s awake, because I just saw him on Twitter! So if he knew he wasn’t going to buy it, I’d already have the rejection, right? Right? So he’s actually considering buying it, isn’t he? That has to mean I’m going to get at LEAST a personal rej…
(Succumbs to the plaintive cries of the toddler, wandering in suspected orphandom through the second-floor hallway)
8:47 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. And it’s not even midnight in California! Sure, JJA may be kicking back on his Friday night instead of debating the merits of my story, but at least he’s going to sleep on it before rejecting me. He’s never done that before!
(Eats chocolate, cleans house to impress babysitter)
10:41 AM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. And how proud am I? I went two whole hours without checking. That I know JJA is probably sleeping does not make that any less awesome, thank you very much.
(Cleans more house, showers for husband’s birthday bash tonight)
4:18 PM, June 25, 2011 – I’m still “Under Review” at #1. How early do you think JJA gets up on a Saturday? It’s 7:18 AM in California…oh, I know! I’ll constantly refresh the “Recent Responses” page for Fantasy Magazine at The Submissions Grinder! When I see a rejection reported on the 25th, I’ll know JJA is up and at it! He will be starting his Saturday that way, won’t he?
4:20 PM, June 25, 2011 – Wait, the Grinder shows 7 people waiting for a response, with an average of 6.6 days (median 6!) and a max at 25 days. How can I be #1 in the queue?
(Hissing, bubbling sound as brain overheats)
4:24 PM, June 25, 2011 – Probably because the others just haven’t reported their responses yet. Yeah, that’s it.
4:26 PM, June 25, 2011 – Which means those people are sloppy, and when they come in and report their responses today and just let it use today’s date instead of picking the real response date, it won’t mean anything about JJA being awake and editorial, or anything. Honestly, I…what’s that? Oh, order a red wine for me, thanks, almost done here. No, really. Yes, honey, I know it’s your birthday. Hey, will there be a microphone at your party tonight? In case I get accepted.
4:27 PM, June 25, 2011 – Or maybe I am just wrong about what the whole queue numbering thing means.
(Stares vacantly into distance with look of horror, until husband wraps her fingers around newly arrived glass of wine)
7:48 PM, June 25, 2011 – Hey, great to see you again, too! How have you been? (checks mail on cellphone)
7:56 PM, June 25, 2011– Hey, great to see you again, too! How have you been? (checks mail on cellphone)
8:01 PM, June 25, 2011 – Hey, great to see you again, too! How have you been? (checks mail on cellphone)
(Several hours pass, in which the words “hey, no news is good news!” are repeatedly uttered to several confused party guests)
10:42 PM, June 25, 2011 – Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, I have an e-mail.
10:42 PM, June 25, 2011 – Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, it’s from Fantasy Magazine.
10:42 PM, June 25, 2011 – Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS ASKED ME TO SEND HIM MORE!!!!!!!
(Several confused party guests try to select the proper facial expression to deal with “they rejected me! But look! It’s an awesome rejection! Look at this load of awesome in my inbox! I am so psyched!”)
People outside the world of story submissions don’t understand how rejection can be so thrilling (or why this rejection actually means I’m a decent writer instead of a lousy one). This is just the fifth story I’ve sent out since trying my hand at this professional fiction writer thing, the third that’s gone to Mr. Adams; with every story, I see myself improving. Apparently he does, too, and that is incredibly encouraging. Who knows? Maybe my next story will be one he loves. And that’s what’s so awesome about this rejection: he thinks there’s a chance it might, too.