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SH fiction dept open to subs again


The Strange Horizons fiction department is open to submissions again. There are a couple of new things worth noting:

First, we've put a temporary cap on the number of submissions per day. The cap is much higher than our normal submission volume, but it's much lower than our peak submission volume; our hope is that it'll smooth out volume in the first couple weeks of January, making it easier for us to keep up and to send timely responses.

Unfortunately, this means that some people won't be able to submit on the day that they want to submit. I'm sorry about that.

On any given day, when we reach the submission limit, the submission-form page automatically changes itself to tell people to come back tomorrow. It automatically reopens itself at midnight US east-coast time each night.

Don't worry, the system won't let you fill in the form unless you can actually submit; the form isn't visible after we reach the daily limit. So if you see the form, then you'll know it's okay to submit.

I'm expecting that for the first couple days of the year, we'll hit the limit fairly early in the day, but that by the end of next week, most people will be able to submit on their first visit.

This is something of an experiment; we may change various aspects of it over time.

Second, we've instituted a submission-tracking system. After you submit, you'll be given a URL containing a unique story ID; visiting that URL will tell you whether your story is still under consideration or not.

It won't tell you anything else—not whether we've read it or not, not whether we like it or not. It'll either tell you that we haven't yet replied to the story, or that we have replied to the story (and thus that you should query if you haven't received a response).

I'm hoping that this will significantly reduce stress for authors; you'll no longer have to spend weeks wondering whether we've responded to your story or not. And you'll know when to query if you haven't received a response.

I'm also hoping that this will cut down on the number of authors who wait six months to query. We ask that authors query at 70 days if they haven't heard from us, but an unfortunate number of authors don't do that. It always makes me sad when I find out that someone's been patiently waiting for six months to hear back about a story that we rejected five months earlier.

The check-your-story-status URL also appears in the autoresponse letter, for ease of keeping track of it.

In case anyone's concerned about privacy: the IDs are random strings; the chance of someone randomly guessing your story's ID is one in over sixty trillion. And if they do somehow obtain your ID, all they'll be able to learn is (a) your story's title, and (b) whether we've responded to it or not. The story-status page doesn't even show the author's name.

There's other new stuff going on behind the scenes, but I think those two changes are the only ones that are visible to authors at this point. If you have questions, feel free to ask, either as a comment to this entry (but not in LJ, where I don't see comments) or by emailing a query.


It's nice that you're always working to improve the submission process for both sides of the equation.

Happy New Year!

Oops, I wrote this comment a while back but forgot to post it.

Happy New Year to you, too!

I should admit that, although we definitely want to improve the process for everyone, the motivation for even the story-tracking ID system was partly selfish: I always get a little stressed when authors query long after we rejected a story, so I'm hoping this system will reduce such queries and thus reduce my stress.

And some small part of the motivation was also noticing that other publications have started providing better information for authors who want to track their submissions.

But yeah, the main motivation for the ID system was sympathy with authors—thinking about how tense I get when I'm waiting for a response on a story I've submitted somewhere, and have no way to tell whether it's still being considered or whether the response was lost in the mail.

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