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2 November 2010
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Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza

How to Submit like a Pro
Part 17: "When to Give it Up -- or Why Don't They Answer!"
by Ralan

A frequent question I'm asked centers around submissions that never get a reply, and there is no Market Note or Update at Ralan.com warning you about anything that might cause this.

The hint: You send off a well-targeted submission (yours ARE always well-targeted, right?). The time for responses goes by and you've heard nothing, but just to be sure, you give it another month. Still no word. You send a very polite message to the editor or publisher telling them what and when you submitted and asking if they could check on it, and wait a couple of weeks for a reply to that, which doesn't come. You send a slightly more forceful request (but still polite - always polite, right?). Nothing.

What do you do? Well, it may be a while since you visited, so go to the web site and check some things out. Remember that a print magazine's web site may be not as updated as a webzine or e-zine. That's because the web site is typically just used as an advertisement for the magazine. First, look at the copyright dates (usually at the bottom of the pages). Do they include the year we're in? Not a certain indication, but maybe a sign. Now find out the date of their last issue and compare that to their stated frequency of publication. If they are monthly and their last issue was three months ago, that is another sign. Read the latest editorial. Is it dated, or do events in the editorial date it (a reference to an upcoming Con, for example, may be telling if the Con was months ago)? If there is a forum for the publication? This can be really informative. Is it up-to-date? Are there questions that are not answered? Does it look like a thriving community, or a ghost town? Finally look for e-mail addresses other than the submission e-address and try any you find. Sometimes the Webmaster's e-address can be spotted; or a contributing editor, or a sponsor. While he or she may not have anything to do with the publication they will know if there's been any contact or activity around it. All these things will give you an idea of the health of the publication.

If it appears dead, there's not much you can do, except send me an e-mail telling me about it. I will investigate. Many times I have alternate, personal, e-mail addresses for the editors and/or publishers that are not used in the listings. I can't give them out to anyone, but I can write to them to find out if the market is in fact still valid. If I find out anything, or take other action (like declaring it closed if I get no reply to three e-mails sent over the course of a month), I'll let you know. You'll also get a Tip Thanks (if you want one) with a link to a web site of your choice (if you have a choice) for the month the Update (if there is one) is posted.

If it appears healthy, then you can assume the editor is extremely busy. So much so, in fact, that he or she can't even find to time to answer queries. It happens. Often. You need to decide if you want to wait longer for a chance at this particular market, or to cut loose. For the latter you need to send a polite withdrawal notice. Even if the editor doesn't respond to that, you have sent it and are then free to submit your work somewhere else. You can also write me about it, so I can note if any market is getting a lot of similar complaints, and if so, try to find out why.

Good luck out there!

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