Wednesday, December 12, 2018

into the breach

I am in the midst of the final war of dueling dancing girl press manuscripts for next year.  It's rough--we crested 500 submissions again this year (the good news is that number has stabilized after quite a climb from about 15 in 2004--the bad news is that I have an embarassment of riches and just a whole lot to read, which is making me about a month late in getting responses out this year. )   Also, as I've mentioned before the pool gets less slushy every year, and so many authors seem to know exactly the sorts of things I'm looking for (which of course, makes it hard to decide between them. )  Amazing folks have occasionally volunteered to help read submissions, to winnow things down, but my Taurus control-freaky self worries I would miss something I wanted if I didn't look at everything myself--even just a few pages to get a sampling.  And truthfully, if I'm going to have to go through them all regardless, I might as well just do it myself.

What usually happens is I will read about 5 pages of everything that comes in the door, not always the first 5 pages, sometimes other ranges. Some books get released back into the wild as not really my thing immediately. Then there are the total read-throughs, these are the ones I'm wanting more of.  Sometimes, these are definite yes.  Sometimes they are yes, if we have room. The criteria between these are fuzzy--all of them sound poetry and something I could see dgp releasing, but maybe variations in subject matter, voice, or just plain quirky oddness, makes one stack a definite and the others a possible.  The problem is when there are too many yes and then also too many maybes, and the latter wind up in the death battle at the end.  I also tend to do rolling acceptances, which means the maybes stand a better chance when I am reading for January-July, than the latter half of the year as the schedule starts to fill up.  (the pro tip, I guess, being to submit early in the season.)  By the time I get to August subs, there is a sense of panic and sudden death. Occasionally, I can wiggle some things into the early part of the following year but don't like too long of a stretch between acceptance and actual publication (plus it can make things tighter the next year.)

 I have a general "thank you for sending but no" form rejection (worded, if course, more politely), but then also a "this one didn't fit, but maybe send something else another year."  Occasionally, we get the same mss. back in a subsequent year and I take it, especially if it was case of just running out of slots, so it never hurts to try again. (Sometimes these seem obviously familiar, but other times, I might have completely forgotten I've read it before, especially if it's been revised a As it stands I currently have read at least some of everything left in the queue, released the no manuscripts to their authors,  and marked a few more for total read throughs, but plan to have the responses out and the schedule firmed up by Christmas. (Or realistically at least by the end of holiday break.)

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