Interzone new email reading periods
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Author:  des2 [ Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  des2

I thought of this idea a few years ago and it has been discussed here before. I have all my work on the internet for this purpose (published and unpublished). Thomas Ligotti has just published a major new work firstly on the internet.
Things are going in this direction gradually already. I have had a novella accepted recenty for print publication from the publisher having read it on the internet, where, with agreement, it still is open to the public.

Things are changing with rights issues etc - and as to the website design (security, format etc etc) for such a system to work, this is not beyond the wit of man, I'm sure.

Author:  Adrian Faulkner [ Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:52 pm ]
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OK, I'm new here, so be nice to me when I completely miss the obvious

Just about every bit of writer advice I've seen, says "submit, submit, submit." I recently asked someone "how do you know when you're good enough?" to be told (in a round about way) "that's for an editor to decide."

Surely, all this is doing is generating slush. Yes, there are probably the
odd gem in the editor's slushpile, as well as other pieces well-written but unsuitable but the majority is going to be (for want of a better word) crap.

Surely if the crap could be cut out (or reduced), editors would have less to read through, and hence response times would be better. Now, I agree that's easier said than done. Back in the early 90s I sent a story to Interzone that was just dire (I thought it was the bee's knees at the time), but that's because all the advice said "submit."

Now most probably, the writers here go through some sort of mental check or peer review before deciding to send something out, but all the advice I've seen for the beginner is just about adding to the slushpile. Doesn't mean that established writers can't annoy editors. But there's a big difference between reading over your manuscript 100 times before sending it out and then realising you never double-spaced it, and writing something that is cliched and poorly written.

Doesn't simultaneous submission just compound this problem? More manuscripts (good, unsuitable and crap) floating around everywhere leading to bigger slush piles, leading to even longer response times. And let's face it, I think there would be no call for simultaneous submissions if response times were measured in hours and days rather than weeks and months. But the only way to do that is to reduced the slushpile, not increase it.

Author:  Hoing [ Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:30 pm ]
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It is an interesting question, Adrian. I'd be curious to know how many submissions are received by, say, Triquorum, which allows simsubs, as opposed to IZ, which doesn't. Of course, that may not be a fair comparison, because Triquorum is a more specialized market--looking only for very long stories, so perhaps the number of submissions there might be fewer naturally. Don't know.

The only really good way to find out is to query a magazine that has done it both ways. What was the difference in submissions when simsubs were allowed compared to when they weren't?

My guess, and it's only that, is that the number of submissions wouldn't increase dramatically. The reason many magazines don't allow simsubs isn't because they fear a proliferation of manuscripts, but rather because the editors don't want to wade through all the "crap" to find that one gem, only to have the author snatch it away and sell it elsewhere.

When I was editing, a century or two ago :wink:, it was my experience that I could eliminate 90% of the stories after reading the first two sentences or so, certainly by the end of the first page. It's quickly evident when a writer doesn't know what s/he is doing. Deciding between the good stories is what's difficult and time-consuming, or at least it was for me. So in that regard, having a high number of submissions didn't matter too much, because most of them could be eliminated almost immediately. (On that note, I was surprised when Jetse said he could only eliminate 50-60% of the submissions quickly. That speaks highly for the quality of submissions IZ receives, and accounts for why it is such an excellent magazine. Having 40-50% of submissions good enough to need at least a full read-through requires a lot more work than a slush pile full of crap--but what a wonderful problem to have!)

Author:  Beth [ Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:34 pm ]
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Jetse wrote:
The long-awaited update, people!

Hi, Jetse, Any chance of another slush update?

Author:  Paul Raven [ Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:18 pm ]
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Beth wrote:
Jetse wrote:
The long-awaited update, people!

Hi, Jetse, Any chance of another slush update?

I think it's probably safe to assume that the silence speaks volumes, Beth. :)

Author:  Jetse [ Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:38 pm ]
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Hi, Jetse, Any chance of another slush update?

I'm still working on it (the slush, I mean).

I hoped to finish this by the end of June: normally I finish reading all the submissions by the end of the next month after the 'open' month.

And I would have, had I received the usual amount: about 375 stories. However, I got 500, which is 33% more, so I'll need about 10 days more or so.

Right now I have about 80 stories still to read, and about 70 responses (of stories that I've already read) to go out. I'm typing this in the middle of sending out responses: rejections, reluctant rejections, and *very* reluctant rejections. And a couple of 'HOLD' notices.

I'm using quite a few form rejections, but often add personal notes to those. If it wasn't clear already: the more personal notes your story gets, the more it grabbed me, the more I think the author has what it takes to make a future sale to us (or a repeat sale... :mrgreen: ).

So yeah: I'm slower than normal through a variety of factors: more submissions, higher quality of submissions, day job pressure, social life intervening.

NOTE: I'm not complaining, just stating things as they happen.

I'm trying to read the remaining stories by the end of the coming weekend, and respond quickly thereafter, although a huge party on the Saturday may throw a spanner in the works.

Then I will need to make a final selection to send onwards to my colleagues from about 30 to 35 held over stories (24 so far, BTW). It'll be very hard (and I do mean that in a positive manner): I have three stories -- again, so far -- that blew me off my socks (keep in mind that my colleagues might disagree), and these are the easy choices.

The others are all very, very good stories, and winnowing those down will be the truly difficult part.

And now I'm back to the gmail account. Take care, discuss IZ stories if you feel like it.

Author:  Beth [ Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:22 pm ]
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Thanks for the update, Jetse. (And you have my admiration and respect for how fast you've tackled this mountain of submissions!)

Author:  James Bloomer [ Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:59 am ]
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Out of interest how many submissions does Andy get by snail mail a month?

Author:  Andy [ Fri Jul 06, 2007 12:04 pm ]
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About 200, James. Approximately. On average.

Author:  James Bloomer [ Fri Jul 06, 2007 1:38 pm ]
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Wow. So over a year you get...erm... a lot of submissions.

Author:  Jetse [ Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:06 pm ]
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I thought I had replied to everybody, and then I found out that I overlooked two stories. So I'm reading those two tonight, and will try to get back to those final two authors tomorrow.

32 writers have already received a 'HOLD', the rest a 'REJECTION'. I plan to whittle those 32 down to 16, and those 16 will be forwarded to my colleagues to shine their light upon.

I will have to make a few tough choices (and probably a few wrong ones, but the only one who doesn't make mistakes is the one who doesn't work, as the saying here in Holland goes).

Try not to feel bad about it when I send out 16 more rejections next week, as I think all these 32 stories should be published. And I do buy the magazines/anthos in which such stories (the ones that came close, but just not close enough) do eventually appear (quite often I subscribe to those markets).

And those 32 writers: don't bite your nails. Have a good time with family and/or friends, relax, read something interesting (IZ #211 is just out, as our tireless publicity man Roy, and I, would like to remind you), or write the next story (which you can send my way in November, or to Trent, Julian, and Geoff if it's mundane SF).

Author:  Jetse [ Sun Jul 29, 2007 5:39 pm ]
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In case it wasn't clear: I've replied to everybody: so you either should have had a rejection, or a hold (with an update).

If you haven't heared from me, feel free to query (some of you already have).

Another thing came up: one of the writers whose story I'll be forwarding to my colleagues asked if the response would be before October 31, the deadline for the mundane SF issue, as the writer wanted to submit another story to them.

Well, as it is, the mundane SF special issue is *separate* from the 'normal' Interzone slushpile, meaning you can send story A to me (in November, or to Andy by postal mail anytime), and story B to Geoff, Julian and Trent at the same time. As long as they are *different* stories.

Meaning if I or Andy have a story from you under consideration, it's perfectly OK to send a *different* story to the mundane SF issue (it would be quite embarrassing if we would both want to publish the *same* story, and we don't check each other's slushpiles, as this takes away too much precious pub time...;-)).

I hope that is clear.

Author:  Journeymouse [ Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:21 pm ]
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Hey Jetse,

Being slightly more than an interested by-stander, how's the first week of November e-submissions going? (Translation: what's the competition's numbers like? :oops: )

On a less self-serving note, have you recovered from the last round?

Author:  Jetse [ Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:16 pm ]
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A very quick update on the November email reading period: 276 submissions so far, totalling about 1341500 words.

I've been busier than usual, but I am reading, and have started sending out responses. More later, and I intend to finish reading everything before Christmas.

Author:  JasonSanford [ Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:22 pm ]
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I just submitted a story for the e-mail reading period, but I must admit hesitating when I saw Jetse's comment above about 1.3 million words having already been submitted during November. 1.3 MILLION WORDS! That's the equivalent of more than sixteen 80,000 word novels.

Has anyone ever estimated how many words worth of submissions the Interzone editors read each year? Whatever the total, I'm sure it must boggle the mind.

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