I follow several writing opportunity groups. From one or another I found a new fiction magazine called Shattered Prism. It was only luck that I found it. I’d just gotten back “Xerocolous” while in the midst of looking over new places to submit to and to read. Shattered Prism was the very science fiction site I’d been exploring when I got my form rejection from Sci-Fi Daily. Oh well, “Xerocolous” was already prep’d and ready, and now free for re-submission. Off it went.
The first thing I found off-putting about Shattered Prism was its use of an unaffiliated gmail account to receive email submissions. I realize Submittable is expensive and new magazines may not have the capital to throw away on a submission service.
When not using such a service; however, it is paramount that one acknowledges submissions. Otherwise, writers are left to wonder not only if their works will be accepted but if they’ve even entered into the running for such.
A week passes and I receive no word. Rather than rest on the seventh I send the following to Prism:
To Shattered Prism's editorial board, I received no acknowledgement of my submission "Xerocolous" and wondered if you had received it. Could you send me a brief note letting me know? Thanks, Alexander Clark
Dear Alexander, Thank you for your submission to Shattered Prism. We enjoyed your story very much, however we cannot use it at this time. Please do submit again at the next open submissions date. Sincerely, The Editors
So, one of two things has happened: Prism got to my story, found it lacking, and sent out my rejection letter in record time, the fastest I’ve ever heard back on anything other than a bill, or Prism got testy with my request for information on reception and rejected me out of hand rather than deal with my curiosity.
I’m not definitively asserting the latter, but I am strongly implying it.
If one is going to accept submissions, one must be prepared to answer questions about them, especially when one has provided no information to submitters. Submittable works because it gives writers an immediate acknowledgement. They don’t have to wait to know if pieces on which they’ve worked, ones that they now can send no where else, are even in the running for the journal to which they’ve submitted them. An automated email would do just as well, but some small token of receipt is paramount. It is unfair for any journal, especially one that doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, to expect a writer to hold his breath for six weeks, waiting until the accept/rejection deadline before he knows if his piece has even been considered.
Perhaps I’m asking too much.
Perhaps I’m just a prismer of my own expectations.