Friday, 5 June 2009 Tipping the Balance

I’m a good writer (good as in well behaved, that is) and always follow guidelines to the letter. First impressions count, right? If you’re not a stickler for the guidelines, then you’re off on a bad footing straight away.

So, the story is sent off after a gazillion checks and double checks that the formatting is up to scratch (whatever happened to standard formatting, by the way? Why does every editor seem to want something slightly different?) and I sit back and wait for the rejection to come in. Optimistic, I know.

I check Duotrope for the average response time and when it goes over that, I maybe start to get a little excited. They’re holding on to it – could be a good sign.

More waiting and I’m heading away from the response time as stated in the guidelines.

More waiting and I’m steering towards their ‘you should definitely query us’ time. Could be a really good sign, either that or it’s been lost.

This is where I come a little unstuck with the guidelines. I don’t want to be pushy (I could be on to a winner here, after all) so I wait a little more.

Two or three weeks later and still nothing, I decide to finally send a brief, polite query. Don’t forget, this a good long while after they recommend querying.

Within hours, I get the rejection (still smarts every time) with lots of positive things to say about the story and an assurance that it was a close call, but in the end... well, you know the rest.

This has happened a few times, so I guess the question here is: am I doing the right thing? Should I query or should I wait?

Were these stories doomed from the start or did the query process tip the balance in favour of the almighty ‘Thanks, but we’re going to take a pass’?

By the way, I’ve come to truly, truly hate that expression; familiarity breeds contempt.


Rebecca Nazar said...

Sorry, mate. :-( Yes, it smarts.

I can't imagine the query made a difference. If that's what the editor states to do, then it's fine.

Keep trying. Good luck.

Horror Girl said...

i think (and hope) that querying doesn't make a difference in the end.

though i could see how you might draw that conclusion.

christ, i just sent out a query...

no it totally can't make difference

Catherine J Gardner said...

I don't think a query influences the decision - unless you're very strange in the query :/) - but I do think it can speed up the process.

Michael Stone said...

I've had similar experiences. But like the above I choose to believe an editor wouldn't reject somebody just for querying.

L.R. Bonehill said...

Thanks everyone. It was the sheer speed of the query responses that got me thinking more than anything else.

At most it was hours, a couple were minutes, almost like an auto-response from a server.


Aaron Polson said...

I have to say the query shouldn't have made the difference. Sometimes the query just prompts an editor...they are human (and somewhat prone to slacking at times) too.

L.R. Bonehill said...

Cheers, Aaron. Most editors are indeed human, but I have my suspicions about one or two...