An Open Letter To Paying Short Form SF & Fantasy Markets

26 Aug

Hello, good people. Most of you are very good people. Some of you are a touch misguided.

I’m sure when you first opened, you had grand and lofty ideas, dreams of what you wanted your market to be. Then you met your submitters, and they overwhelmed you. Perhaps not immediately, but eventually.

That is why I’ve brought you here today.

Your submission wait times are too long. Some of you (I’m not going to point fingers or name & shame) have wait times over 100 days. That’s far too damn long. Here’s how you’re going to fix that.


Seriously, I mean it. Close. Now! Don’t even stop to read the rest of this article, come back when you’ve closed.

I’ll wait. On you go. No, I REALLY mean it!

I’ll be here when you get back.


Okay. Closed to subs now? We’ll continue then. It’s time to dig yourself out of the hole you made for yourselves. The first step was putting down the shovel, closing to subs.

Stay closed, read your slush queue, and clear it, completely.

However many stories you had to read to clear the queue, divide that number by four. That’s your new cut-off point. In future, when you reopen to subs, accept no more than that amount, by plus or minus 10%.

Don’t ever get overwhelmed again.

I’m one of the hundreds or possibly thousands of people sending you stories to read, and hopefully buy. We don’t mind a short wait, in fact, we expect one. What we don’t expect is a wait of anything up to half a year. If you’re one of those markets who says not to query until six months has passed, the swearword hasn’t yet been invented to describe you.

You’ve only got that amount of time factored in because, shock – horror, you’re overwhelmed. That’s because you don’t know when to close submissions. Some of you (according to SFWA) are professional markets, yet you still don’t know to close when you’ve got too much to read. If this is the case, kindly question your life choices.

A lot of you are guilty, don’t shrug and say “Well, we’re not!”

Some markets get rejections out in DAYS. ACTUAL DAYS. I’m not talking a week either, one, two or maybe three days. Anything up to two weeks is decent, a month is just about acceptable. Beyond that, your turnaround time needs work. Almost certainly because you’ve taken too many stories.

Now, I realise this means a lot of markets are suddenly going to be closed for quite some time while they clear the decks. 2020 has been a shit year for everyone. Why don’t we end it by making long market wait times a thing of the past? If you’re a pro-rate market, maybe you should also have more professional reply times too?

I don’t want to see any cheating. Stories are still to be read & judged the same way you always have. If Neil Clarke can politely tell me no in two days, there’s no reason why everywhere can’t meet his incredibly high and excellent standards. Clarkesworld has a fast turnaround which I respect.

Thanks for your attention.



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