Stupefying Stories is currently CLOSED to unsolicited submissions. For more information about what we’re likely to be looking for when we reopen to submissions, see our Submission Guidelines, but be advised that they are subject to change.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013: The Year in Review, So Far

Good grief, is it the end of March already?

I was doing some unnecessary grumbling the other day, along the lines of why am I so tired and where has all the time gone, when my wife simply said, "Look at your planner." So I did.

Oh yeah, that's right. I've been on The Kick since the second week of February.

The Kick, if you're not familiar with it, is a distance-runner's term for the last leg, the last lap, that last chance to change the outcome of the race. It's the moment when you dig down deep within yourself, find every last reserve of energy you've been holding back, and pour it all out in one enormous burst, to leave everything on the track and save nothing for whatever may come after you've crossed the finish line. Which, in case you've wondered, is why so many distance runners celebrate finishing a big race by immediately keeling over and barfing.

I don't run anymore, thanks to a downhill skiing accident some years ago that made hamburger out of the cartilage in my right knee. I do however work in software development, and the last weeks before a big software release have more in common with the end of a big race than you might imagine, except that distance runners generally don't carbo-load on Dr. Pepper and Nacho Cheese Doritos and programmers generally attribute their keeling over and barfing to having had too much fun at the release party.

One software release, I could have taken in stride. Two releases would have been doable. But I've wound up running the anchor leg on three different software releases in the past two months, and something had to give. I'm sorry to say it was STUPEFYING STORIES.

Some things are going very well. The changes to our submissions process have proven effective: we're now getting much faster turnaround on first and second reads, and the Fearless Slush Pile Reader Corps is back to keeping pace with new submissions. The submissions audit has gone mostly pretty well: we still have a few stories in the Curios & Relics bin, but are largely caught up to about 60 days ago. At present there are 44 stories in the "Well, do we buy it or not?" bin, 54 stories in the "Let's buy it now!" bin -- (although there are some issues here; more about that in a moment) -- and 24 stories currently awaiting rejection. Sorry, I don't have the aging data handy at the moment.

The contract audit has gone rather less well. After several rounds of, "It was filed where?", we've decided to start over and reissue new contracts for everything we currently have under contract but not yet published, save for those folks who've asked to be released from their contracts. I'm somewhat disappointed that some writers have lost faith in us, but honestly, can't fault them for doing so. Our publishing schedule has been wildly erratic, and is likely to remain so for the next three months.

Ergo, if you're waiting for us to send you a contract, or waiting for us to send you the renewal for a contract that's either expired recently or is set to expire soon: please bear with us just a little longer. We are getting this straightened out. The mess was just plain bigger and more complicated than it looked at first. Particularly if you're one of the 54 authors in the "Let's buy it now!" spaghetti bowl bin: we're still figuring who's been sent a formal acceptance and now needs a contract; who's been sent a message saying they're going to be receiving a formal acceptance Real Soon Now but hasn't actually been sent an acceptance letter; and who still hasn't even been notified that we're holding their story for a second read, much less that we like it and want to buy it.

And, if you're one of the many authors who's sent me a query lately asking one thing or another: no, I'm not ignoring you. I am keenly aware of the stack of unanswered email sitting in that bin, and it gnaws at my conscience...

But I have a few more mods to check-in for the big software release that's scheduled to go out at the end of this week, and once I get them all buttoned up and ready to go, I can get back to getting caught up on answering email.

This is not where I wanted STUPEFYING STORIES to be at the end of March. I'd hoped to have at least two new books released -- preferably four -- and be in position to announce some of the big changes that we've been working on behind the scenes for the past few months. But Otogu the Insatiable is a capricious and sometimes whimsical taskmaster, and once again our plans ha' gang agley, as aft they do. Always learning and evolving, we are.

Stay tuned,


Rebecca Schwarz said...

Thanks for the update. I'm tired after just reading it!

Anonymous said...

If there's anything that being a writer has taught me, it's that this is a funny old business and patience is a virtue.

Unknown said...

Well, that's saved me an email. Thanks for the info and hope to hear from you again soon.