Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Submitting Your Work: Get Ready For the Christmas Rush

Okay writers, get ready for the Christmas Rush, and I don't mean the gift-buying, house-cleaning, list-making rush. I mean the rush of rejections you will soon find in your mailbox––that is, of course, unless you are a more successful writer than I.

After many years of the submission game I've noticed that there are two times during the year that reviewers/editors like to clean house. One is around April and May as many journals associated with colleges and universities take a reading break over the summer. The other is the end of the year, when editors, like everyone else, are looking to start the New Year with a clean slate. So this is the time of year you are most likely to receive a response on those submissions that have been sitting in the slush pile for six or nine months.

Calling this the Christmas Rush as opposed to the Holiday Rush is not due to lack of PC. It's just that, probably because of its position toward the end of the month, editors, no matter what their religious persuasion, appear to favor Christmas as their deadline, sending their own form of season's greetings right up to the holiday, but not beyond.

Contrary to the spirit of the season, editors seem no more disposed to send "tidings of great joy" in this season than they are at any other time of year. In fact, in this season of huge charitable donations and overflowing food pantries (and I base this solely on personal experience and anecdotal evidence), I believe they are more likely to turn into Mr. Scrooge and send out a slew of standard rejections.

Why? Lots of reasons. For one, it's party season. No one wants to spend time in stuffy editorial meetings arguing over those pieces that come oh so close. Also, it's exam time. In academic institutions across the country student interns will be exhorted by efficient Managing Editors to clean up the slush pile before the end of the year .

"But Mr.Manager, I have three exams to study for and five papers to write before break."

"I don't care. Just get it all cleaned up before you leave...and, um, remember to make sure there are no "biggies" in the pile, if you get my drift."

Okay, I don't know that for sure. I've never been a fly on the wall, and I have absolutely no insider information. Maybe it just makes me feel better to believe that's why my work is being rejected and not because it is one of the 90% of submissions that just plain suck.

Anyway, the decorations are in the stores. Halloween is coming, and I'm going through my list of open submissions. My mailbox promises to be full this season.

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