Wednesday, 29 July 2015

I'll say this only once

Words written c33000
Stories completed 4
Rejections 65
Acceptances 1

One of the characteristics that makes the interweb what it is is the lack of social cues.  What I mean is the iterative process of judging what we should be doing by what other people are doing.  It’s what stops the A381 resembling a scene out of Mad Max, or John Lewis the Somme.  This is despite the emphasis on ‘social medja’.

Take social cues away and what do you have?  Well, I suppose the example that springs to mind first and foremost is trolling.  But there does appear to be some default within the human brain that goes after the easy-to-grab-hold-of negative example.  So, what about positives coming about from the lack of line of sight to what the cretin at the next desk is up to?

Which leads me to two instructions very commonly found in submission instructions to sci-fi magazines and small presses: no simultaneous submissions; and no multiple submissions.

The latter is a no brainer line not to cross - I think they’ll spot more than one submission coming their way!  But the former?

I don’t do it.  Honest.  Recently I even noticed that I had misread my spreadsheet and had sent off a story that was already out.  I almost had sleepless nights until a rejection from one came though.

But is this just me?  You won’t find a blog shouting out that their author is a serial multiple submitter, but am I just being naive?  Perhaps, in reality, everyone is at it.  What’s the biggest risk?  An apologetic withdrawal of a story should it be accepted twice?  (Take a look at the numbers above if you want to judge the likelihood of that).  Perhaps it’s like jaywalking - in America it’s a law whereas here in Britain it’s just a pragmatic approach to crossing the road.

Look at it this way.  I’ve had a story with since September 2013.  If every publisher took two years to respond I’d barely have a chance to get my wares out there before my sci-fi became historical fiction.  Surreptitious multiple submissions are very tempting.  How wrong is it?  And will it make me go blind?

The reality on response rates is somewhere between and Clarkesworld, of course.  But even so, authors all know the feeling of waiting for months to receive a ‘no thanks’, or worse, a ‘near miss’.

Again, the tally of completed stories has ticked up by one.  I’ve rewritten the near future military sci-fi mentioned in my last post to a far-future far-fetched tale for Cohesion Press’ SNAFU anthology.  Character names, location (now the dumbbell twin planets of Corobus Rama and Corobus Dala sharing an eccentric tumbling orbit around twin suns) and title have all changed.

I don’t currently have both stories out at the same time.  But what if I did?  They have strong similarities, but they aren’t the same story.  I’d probably withdraw one if the other got accepted, but until then... Would they be simultaneous submissions?  Is it just between my conscience and me?  After all, damned if I can see what everybody else is doing…

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