Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #2

Three weeks into our 2019 reading period, things seem to be progressing nicely. Submissions slowed for a few days but then returned to their normal pace, and we’re still on-track to receive between 200 and 250 new stories this month. I’m pleased to report that thus far we’ve been getting every new submission received into the hands of a first reader within 48 hours, and getting through first-round reads and first-round decisions within seven days.

For about 65% of the stories we receive, the first-round is as far as they go. For a multitude of reasons these stories just aren’t what we’re looking for right now, so we’ll thank the authors kindly for giving us the opportunity to consider their story and wish them good luck placing it elsewhere. I’d love to be able to send each and every author a detailed explanation as to why we aren’t holding their story over for further consideration, but there simply isn’t the time.

The point I want to stress, though, is that every story submitted to us does get at least one full reading, and generally a first read and then a second skim as we discuss them in first-round triage. We have not yet succumbed to the temptation to reject a story based solely on the author’s cover letter alone—though there have been some close calls...

Thus far we have a small handful of clear BUYs in the hopper, a very few RFWs (requests for rewrites) pending, and a fair number of stories we’re holding over for a second or third re-read. We should begin sending out acceptances this weekend, and if all goes well the new SHOWCASE site should also go live this coming Saturday.

Stay tuned,

Monday, May 20, 2019

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

Funny, how fast things can change. Thursday morning everything was more or less under control and we were moving forward. Friday morning I woke up, poured myself a cup of coffee, opened up my laptop, checked my email—and wham. This.

Given that all our plans for Rampant Loon Press are based on the assumption that I will continue to be working here, and thus covered by our excellent employee medical insurance and benefits package, for years to come, this change is unsettling. What the exact effects will be remain to be seen. There are a tremendous number of known unknowns in play at the moment.

In any case, if I seem a bit distracted in the next few days or weeks, this is the form that Otogu the Insatiable, Devourer of Days, has chosen this time. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #1

Two weeks into our 2019 reading period, things are going about as expected. At the present daily rate we should receive between 250 and 300 new submissions this month. Of these stories, statistically, we’ll be able to buy and publish about 15. These aren’t hard numbers, mind you. They don’t take into account story length, and in fiction publishing, word count is a minor god who must be served.

Hmm. That would be an interesting metric, but we don’t begin to track story length until we get to third-round reads, when we’re starting to evaluate stories in light of how they would jigsaw together into an issue. I wonder if Katherine would revolt if I added word count to the submissions tracking system and asked her to start logging it for each new submission received?

Never mind that now. My point is that speaking statistically, every story that comes in here has a roughly one-in-twenty chance of making it all the way through to being accepted, and most will receive a no-comment form rejection. It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way the numbers work out.

How can you improve your odds? For us, reading slush is always an enlightening experience, somewhat akin to taking the pulse of writers as a collective. About fifty-percent of the stories that show up in our inbox are dead on arrival, usually because the writer failed to read our submission guidelines and sent us something we simply couldn’t use, no matter how objectively good it might be. For example, we are seeing a lot of horror—far more than we could ever possibly publish even if we were to stay in business for another twenty years.

...Out of time, more to follow tomorrow... 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

DemiCon 30 • After Action Report

We’re finally (mostly) recovered from spending the weekend at DemiCon 30, the Des Moines SF/F convention. This was sort of a trial run for us. Karen and I have been off the con circuit for quite a few years and are now beginning to ease back into it, starting with a few small regional cons. Many thanks to Amanda for inviting us and Amanda (the other one) for finding some nice slots for us in the programming!

I haven’t been to a DemiCon since—oh, before you were born. Given that this was “30,” my last DemiCon must have been one in the low single digits. Still, it was really nice to spend a little time with Joe and Gay Haldeman again. It’s been far too long.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Re Submissions

Here’s one more thing we’ll be adding to the Submission Guidelines ASAP:
Please do not send email with HUGE (multi-megabyte) attachments to our submissions email inbox. Such submissions just overflow the inbox, clog up the pipes, and end up being deleted unread. If we want to see your author’s photo in all its glorious 16MB hi-res beauty, we will ask for it after we’ve accepted your story and put it under contract, and then you’ll be directed to send it to a different mailbox.
In the meantime, if you’ve tried to send us a submission in the past 48 hours and gotten a “mailbox full” bounce-back message, be advised that we’ve located the source of the problem, plunged the pipes, and everything should be flowing freely again.