by Cameron Filas
Sadly, this phenomenon does occur occasionally in the world of writing. You craft a brilliant piece of work, polish it through countless revisions, seek out the perfect publisher, submit, and get an acceptance letter. The letter might include something to the effect of “we’ll contact you in a month or so with a firm publication date.” You rub your hands together in gleeful satisfaction and begin writing more works of genius.
Then a month or so passes and you’ve heard nothing. Have they forgotten about you? Was your work misplaced? Could it be possible your work was never intended to be published and they sent you the acceptance letter by accident? Improbable thoughts and scenarios begin flooding your mind. But here’s what you can do when this happens.
Don’t panic! Just keep in mind it’s not personal. A good majority of the time, editors are just too overwhelmed to keep up with their own timelines. Many online publications are volunteer-based so the staff has to juggle personal lives and regular work with the running of their magazine or journal. Even when publications are paid, and the staff is full time, there is a high chance they are drowning in the sheer volume of submissions they receive. This is not to say you should not take notice or action when they don’t get back to you in a timely manner.
Remember writing and publishing is a professional business. If you take a publishers’ failure to keep up with their own timeline personally and opt to rant about them on your blog, or send them a nasty email, chances are you will find you are not welcome to publish with them ever again (and might even have your original work’s acceptance redacted). The proper response to a situation like this is to craft a concise professional email, or correspondence through their website, which objectively inquires about the status of your work. Something like this is a good starting point:
I am emailing to check on the status of “My Wonderful Story” and see if you have picked a publication date. Thank you.
Your Name Here
It’s as easy as that! Chances are they will get back to you shortly and let you know either 1) the publication date they’ve selected, or 2) they still need more time but will get back to you shortly. This usually is all it takes to show the editors you are engaged and to give yourself peace of mind. However, in rare instances you may never hear back.*
Sometimes, no matter how many queries you send regarding the status of your work, you’ll never hear from the editors again. This could happen because you just have awful luck and the publisher decides they can’t keep up with their hobby of running an online magazine. It could also be the result of extremely lazy or unprofessional editors (yes, even in the world of writing there are lazy unprofessional people). The good news is this is an opportunity!
If the publisher you submitted to shut its doors or is too unprofessional to get back to you, that means you have an opportunity to submit your work somewhere better. The best part is your piece was already good enough to be selected for publication once. Use that glass half-full mentality as a drive to seek out other venues to submit to knowing your work already caught the eye of someone before.
In short, when publishers don’t get back to you right away it’s probably them not you. If they never get back to you, there’s no need to yell at your houseplants or cry yourself to sleep. Pick yourself up and submit somewhere else!
*Don’t forget electronic communication sometimes has bugs and you may have overlooked something in your spam folder (or vice versa for the editor). However, after two or three follow-up emails it’s probably a lost cause.
Cameron Filas is an avid reader and novice author of short fiction and other various work. Though he has enjoyed writing from a very young age, he has only recently begun a serious pursuit of the craft. Cameron lives in Mesa, AZ, with his girlfriend, a dog, and a demon cat who he is pretty sure is plotting to kill him. You can visit his corner of the web at cameronfilas.wordpress.com.