Not doing the last button up on a waistcoat. Never drinking when it's you being toasted. Not acting like an American tourist. Etiquette is difficult, isn't it?
I've blogged previously about the etiquette of simultaneous submissions. Re-reading the 45-year old me, I clearly still had some sense of honour left as I meant what I said about observing publishers' rules. Standards have slipped - or my approach has become more pragmatic, depending on your point of view - since then. Too many submissions either not responded to or getting stuck for too long. Too many publishers offering next to nothing but still wanting exclusivity without commitment. I've become more militant in my view that 'no sim subs' is an unreasonable rule. Christ, even the New Yorker allows sim subs.
So, I now divide the world into those whose 'no sim subs' rule I observe - pro and semi-pro markets; those who respond in a reasonable timescale (say, a month); those who I know are business-like - and the rest. And with the rest, I'm prepared for the embarrassment of having to withdraw (my submission) before you finish (my submission), leaving you confused as to how there was ever another suitor. I've pretty much adopted that strategy since writing that earlier blog posting, which had the effect of crystallising my thinking. And you know what, I've never been left embarrassed.
But I have encountered a variation on the problem: how quickly to withdraw a story from markets which allow sim subs when that story has been accepted elsewhere.
My story Arlecchino is forthcoming in 'The Dead Inside' from Dark Dispatch. Obviously delighted that they've taken this little clown-related nugget - go buy it when it's out. But when the email arrived about a month ago, the story was still with two other publishers, including one that would pay more. I've had too many acceptances turn out to have all the substance of a mirage, including two with the same publisher this year. An acceptance isn't the same as seeing it in print, or getting paid. Reading submissions and sending out acceptance emails is a lot easier than getting a publication together, and too often events get in the way or the process gets too difficult or costly for amateur outfits. Counting chickens, and all that.
Of course, I withdrew the story the same morning from the other venues. But unthinkingly, the compliant actions of my forelock-tugging side. As soon as I pressed send I wondered whether I should have waited for the contract, even waited for payment or a point of no return. (I've even been farcically over-eager previously: I misread an email from newmthys.com telling me that a story had been accepted for further consideration and withdrew it from other markets - it's still being chewed over, and I'll feel a fool if it comes back to me).
Perhaps next time I'm faced with the same situation I'll find that writing this post has, again, crystallised my thinking... and I'll adopt a less naïve strategy.
2084. The world remains at war.
In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.
The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.
Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.
Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.
24 0s & a 2
Twenty-four slipstream stories. Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.