Why do literary journals take so long? Why do some take way less time? Some take six or seven months to respond, but then some take a week or less. Is there a reason to these big differences?
Dear Impatient Submitter,
Your question came in just an hour after I finished a literary journal meeting! This is a great question and one that seems to be on most writers’ minds. The wait time after you submit a story to a journal can be agonizing. I know this feeling well. Some places take so long that I completely forget I submitted to them, only to be reminded when they, you know, reject me. (“Oh hey, remember when you gave us this? Well we don’t want it.”)
I used to feel pretty frustrated by all that waiting. But then I experienced life on the other side of the fence. It opened my eyes considerably. After serving as a guest editor for the journal I now manage as the fiction editor, I said the same exact thing I’d later hear countless other guest editors say: “Wow. I have so much more respect for this process now.”
There’s certainly such a thing as “too long” for a literary journal’s response time, but generally speaking, a longer wait time is a good sign while a shorter wait time can be a bad one.
Or, at least, that’s my opinion. And here’s why.