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The Past | The Previous

The Future is Good

Until a week ago, the last time I submitted a story by post was a year and a half ago.

I had forgotten what a hassle it was. Years ago, I used to do it regularly. Print story, print cover letter, envelope, SASE (international reply coupon if necessary). Stand in line. Pay the money. I used to let manuscripts build up, so that I had a pile to send out together, which would inevitably result in a collection of rejections arriving around the same time. My record was four in a week, I believe. I used to be able to tell if it was a rejection by the size of the envelope returning, but I was occasionally misled by those editors who would return your first page to you, as if that was a sign of how far they had read. But at any rate: I used to visit my post office a lot with flat brown envelopes. I often wondered if they talked about what I was doing after--it was fairly easy to see where I was sending them, what with the titles of magazines and publishing houses and occasionally the word editor on the front, but they never asked me. Perhaps they knew better than to ask. Perhaps there is an endless stream of authors just starting out and trudging up to the post office with their work, and the staff have learnt not to ask them about how it goes. I can just see that page in the manual: WARNING, followed by a little picture of a man or woman holding a manuscript and a red circle with a cross through it. DON'T ASK, it says.

But things have changed, and I am, now, in a position where I can look back and say, 'Oh, yes, back when I started, you had to submit by mail all the time,' which is just tragic, when you think about it. Maybe I should get a stylish cane.

There is no real point to that memory. I'm quite glad that I can email manuscripts, now, and that my printer gets used primarily when I'm editing what I've written (I edit very poorly off the screen and, as people will tell you, I edit my own work poorly to begin with). Email cuts down the cost, for one thing--submitting overseas was always an expensive adventure, and I was always submitting overseas, simply because there were more markets over there. I got some real nice rejections from overseas editors in my mail. Australian editors ranged between form rejections and that delightful checklist that Aurealis had, so that rejection could be quick and done with a tick, and if you're lucky, the right title of your story at the top. There were a couple of American mags that did that, too, I think. I have a few. But overall, I have to say, there's nothing better than being able to click that attachment button, send the email off to the editor, and know that if (and sometimes when) it gets rejected, it didn't cost you any money.

I'm all about putting it into perspective, you understand.

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
this could lead to more Australians being published in overseas markets...
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
i'm sure they all know about the miracle of email ;)
(Anonymous)
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
Certainly beats trying to swim there :)
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
i reckon most of them have heard of planes, too, though don't count on those in perth ;)

hey, you mind if i ask who you are? i always like to know who the anonymous people are.
catsparx
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
I look forward to the day when all we'll have to do is think about our stories real hard and submit them to editors that way. Of course, psychicly projected rejections would be even harder to take. They could arrive at any time, any moment...
kaolinfire
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
ouch. :)
catsparx
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
yeah ouch! And just you try not responding psychicly with how you really feel about that editor and her/his tastes...
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
we could thin out the ranks on both sides!
kaolinfire
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
Huzzah for email submissions--or even better, web forms! :)

Night Train Magazine is about to re-open with GUD's submission system, any moment now. =)
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
yeah, web forms are nice, too. though i don't need those ones that update you on every moment with the story--just tell me if you're buying it or not, you know?
kaolinfire
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
agreed. :) I like where that information is available if you want to go looking for it... but notifications should be reserved for "do or die".
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
:)
strangedave
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
The Interzone tick'n'flicks were legendary, apparently. The reasons for rejection included things like 'You watch a lot of Star Trek, don't you?'. And it gave people a reason to keep submitting - you could try and collect the whole set of different reasons for rejection.
benpeek
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
i totally missed that peroid. i submitted once to interzone, i think, and i think it took, like, a year to get a form rejection. i just didn't bother after that.
buymeaclue
Mar. 29th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
I've always liked the Asimov's form that accuses you of not being able to spell.
catsparx
Mar. 29th, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
I have one very lovely Interzone rejection from that time period: my own cover letter ripped in half with a rude comment scrawled in childlike script and a suspicious oily stain...
speshal_k
Mar. 29th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
What a pity that email can't replicate oily stains!
catsparx
Mar. 29th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
I archived it for posterity in a Hazmat bag
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