Waiting takes a long time – for a writer

Short story writers who submit their work to small press magazines are waiting. And waiting.

What are they waiting for, you ask?

An answer from the magazine they submitted their story to, all those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months ago.

A short story writer can expect to wait anywhere from 24 hours to many months to get a reply, it all depends on the staff of the magazine they chose for their submission.  In some cases, magazines may have a group of readers who will turn around replies with lightning fast efficiency. Still others, like Glimmer Train, rely on the dedication of two sisters who read all submissions (I still don’t know how they handle all of their sub volumes…) and it takes a bit longer.

My own personal experience is that anderbo will generally get me a reply on a submission within 48 hours.  That’s impressive! Of course in my case, all of my submissions have been rejected. It may be that acceptances take longer – I don’t know.

I can typically rely on Everyday Fiction to turn around my submissions within 60-90 days, and they give writers a valuable bonus for waiting – two or three of their readers will provide written feedback on the story you sent. 

A great source of information on waiting periods is Duotrope Digest. They offer a free service to writers to sign up and report when you have submitted a piece to a journal, and then report when you hear back on the submission. This information is compiled for each magazine in their massive database, and they even show % acceptances vs. declines so you have an understanding of your chances when you submit.

Finally, and I’m sure that this must be the exception to the rule, one of my submissions was accepted for publication within hours of its submission! It should be said that I had the fabulous good fortune of having the editor read my entry and the piece was flash fiction, less than 1000 words.

So what should you do while you are waiting to hear back on your short story submissions? I have a few suggestions:

  1. Completely forget you submitted the story and go for a walk on the beach/out to dinner with friends/pet your dog-cat-fish-iguana-etc.
  2. Write another story while you wait. While you are at it, write two.
  3. Submit your story to a second magazine – as long as they both accept simultaneous submission.
  4. Enter your submission information into Duotrope Digest, to help other short story writers know what they are in for, in terms of the wait.
  5. Write your new blog entry



2 Responses

  1. I’ve waited more than a year for a Canadian photography magazine to give a yes or no to my article submission. Ridiculous!

  2. Hi Frank,

    Yeah, it can be frustrating. I got an email form rejection from a small lit mag – and I waited 8 months for the reply. I wasn’t particularly happy about it, but then again most of the staff of these mags are volunteers and I know they run their operations on a shoestring, so although I may get frustrated, I understand the position they are in too.

    Thanks for your comment!

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