19 February 2008 by Published in: writing 1 comment

So I sent a sub to an online magazine back in September, and Duotrope made it red some time ago, before Christmas and I said to myself, “Self, you can wait to query because hello, who wants a rejection at Christmas. Also you’ve never queried anything before and you have no idea what you’re doing and sometimes these things fix themselves if you just wait.”

Thus I waited. I heard nothing. And January passed, and I subbed some more stuff (well really the same stuff, which had now been rejected and gone out again while this other sub failed to garner its rejection) and Duotrope told me again this sub had really been out there WAY too long.

“Fine,” said I, “Write query. You need the practice.” I consulted writer friends. How do I write a query? I got some advice. I tried to follow it.

I wrote a succinct query, which I took too long to phrase and was self-conscious about, then emailed it to the address listed as for queries on the magazine’s site.

I figured queries might get answered pretty quickly, specially if the answer was “oh right, we’ve been meaning to tell you no thanks.” or “uhm…we lost it, send again?” Like maybe within a week or two (which it has now been). Am I wrong on this? I mean to wait six weeks, I guess, which puts me to mid-March and then re-query. Can you re-query or is that bad form? Do I need to wait as long on the query about the sub as I did on the original sub before I do anything else (which would be about sixty days or so for this market, more like eight weeks than the six I plan on waiting)? Do I just cut my losses after six weeks and sub elsewhere and send along a note withdrawing (and how do you write a polite withdrawal note)? What’s the etiquette here? Help me out here, I’m flailing in ignorance.

ETA – I hope it’s not rude of me to mention the market by name. In general, I believe in openness, and non-response to me should not be taken as indicative of anything about the market generally. I realize from Merrie’s comment that my coyness makes it hard for people like me to track problems with specific markets using search engines, so I officially uncoy: Coyote Wild, which just put out a new issue and seems to be alive and kicking marketwise has been hanging on to one of my subs for a while now. I get nothing suspicious about them on Duotrope (responses to things submitted as recently as Feb 5!) though black holes shows a withdrawal that’s about as old as my sub. As for Speculations, I’m never quite convinced I’ve looked in all the right places to get market info, but near as I can tell, there’s nothing there about Coyote Wild. Who knows?

I am probably supposed to be learning patience from this. Patience, young grasshopper.


Tue 19th Feb 2008 at 1:45 pm

Well, what’s the market? I have different rules for different markets.

If you don’t want to tell me that, my next step is to survey Black Hole, Duotrope and the Speculations Rumor Mill, and maybe Ralan’s, to see if there’s a backlog at that market, or hints of burgeoning deadness in its near future, or whatever. Because if the market is suffering through a lack of funding time, or if the editor’s mum just died, or something like that, I don’t query again–I leave it as long as I can, and withdraw when I feel I have to.

If I still can’t get a fix on it, I’ll use IceRocket or something like it to search for mentions of subs to the market, to see if other people are getting non-responses…

Mostly, I don’t worry too much about over-querying, because I’m just as reluctant to query as you, and I know that I’m not over-pokey. (Poke, poke, poke.) So… Hope that helps.

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