This economy is knocking over businesses like empty water bottles in a wind storm and literary publications are no exception. As someone who has worked with literary zines, I sympathize with those who have birthed and nurtured their babies or taken over for others, only to see them tank. However, I can't sympathize with them not taking the time to add a sentence to their websites or not replying to submitters within a reasonable time.
Last month, within the same week, I received word from two publications that had gone under, but only after my submission had sat with them for nearly a year. Always one to second guess myself, I visited their websites to see if I'd missed something, like a line stating, this journal is no longer accepting submissions. Instead, both sites were filled with information about future issues, contests, and more.
As difficult as it is to get published these days, it is downright cruel to leave submitters hanging, especially, as with the market I submitted to, they do not accept simultaneous submissions. If someone can't take the time to go into the office and staple a simple notice to submissions before stuffing them in an SASE, they can at least take the few minutes required to update the website. Today in a forum I frequent some posters mentioned a market with an online submission system that appeared to be dead–-again, with nothing noted on the website. How hard can it be to set an online sub system to automatically reply to submitters?
It used to be that a long wait was a good sign. Today, it more likely means the market is defunct and you don't know it. I'm sorry to see so many publications biting the dust, but I do think we writers deserve the respect of at least being notified.