The Queue and You

We have finished responding to the stories sent in during our July submission period. We received over 350 stories, and selected eight, one more than we initially planned to accept. We'll start announcing the stories once they've been edited and the contracts signed. If you sent us a story and didn't hear from us, please let us know right away, using the contact form in the sidebar of this page.

One thing we've learned is that some writers obsessively follow their position in the queue (information provided to them by our submission system), and then become worried when they haven't moved in a while, or wonder whether we rejected the story without reading it if they never get beyond fifty before being rejected. First, let us assure you that we never reject stories without reading them unless the writer broke one of our rules, such as submitting more than one story at a time, and in that case we inform the writer of which rule they broke and invite them to submit the story again if they can do so within the rules. (This doesn't mean we necessarily read every story to the end. Like most editors, we may reject the story before we finish reading it if we decide it clearly isn't working.)

As for the queue . . . First, we should point out that we did not program our submission system. We use a third-party program called Moksha, programmed by our friend Matt Kressel, where we don't have any special insight into how the queue works. Our understanding is that the first story that comes in takes position 1, the next one position 2, etc.  As each story is closed out, which happens when we reject it, accept it, or request a revision, all the stories behind it move up. So if story 1 is rejected, then story 2 moves to 1, and story 3 moves to 2. So far, so good. Your position in the queue would tell you exactly how far your story is from being read, except for two things.

First, we do not accept any story until we read them all. If we like story 1 and think that we probably want to purchase it, we'll place it in the Final Round pile, where it will sit at position 1 until the very end, and no other story will get past position 2.  Usually, we have 10-20 stories sitting in Final Round by the end of the submission period, and no other stories will hit higher than 20 in the queue.

Second, we have multiple first readers helping us out, and they read at different paces. Each first reader claims a number of stories from the unclaimed pile, and those sit in the reader's pile until either they read them, or an editor takes them because the reader is falling behind.  If three first readers have ten stories each in their virtual stacks, and another first reader starts claiming stories from the unclaimed pile and rejecting them before the other first readers get to theirs, those other stories will never get past 30 in the queue. And that's not counting the stories that have made it to Final Round, or which the first readers forwarded to the Second Round pile, from which Donald and Kristin will take stories, and then forward the ones they liked to each other to read.

By the time we're nearing the end of our reading period, the lower numbers in the queue are more likely to be stories that made it pretty far in our selection process than stories we're just getting to. That's not guaranteed. Sometimes a story may sit at a fairly low queue number because the person who claimed it hasn't been able to keep up with the reading.  But we do get to all the stories by the end, and we let people know when they made it to the Final Round, even if we don't accept their story. Because if your story made it that far, we obviously both like your writing and want to encourage you to send us more stories in the future!

We hope this explanation helps authors understand our process a little better. And we look forward to reading the next batch of stories in January!