June 23rd, 2006


Editorial Response Schedules

Time to bitch again about publications and/or contests that don't respond to inquiries. I'm not talking about the what-do-you-think-of-the-85-pages-of-heartfelt-confessional-poems-I-sent-to-you-two-weeks-ago inquiries. I'm talking about contests where I paid an entry fee (and they cashed the check, so I know damn well they got it) and enclosed a SASE, and now it's 2 months past the date by which they said entrants would be notified by, and they don't respond to inquiries sent to the e-mail address given on the website. To name names, which I feel is a salutary pursuit, this has happened with the Poets Out Loud prize and with the Chicago Literary Awards, offered (presumably) by Another Chicago Magazine. In the case of the latter, this is the second year in a row this has happened. I will not be entering that contest again. And let that be a lesson to you.

Editorial prerogative and idiosyncrasy is not unncommon among lit mags, but accepting money for contest submissions puts a whole different complexion on this sort of behavior. I have been fortunate enough to win or place in literary competitions on a regular basis; therefore, I'm pretty sure I'm following the correct protocol for sending in my entries. I include my e-mail address, and I don't have a problem with the occasional competition that e-mails to say that there will be a delay in announcing the results, for whatever reason. But I think it's unconscionable to accept money and then not bother to a) follow one's own schedule, or b) reply to legitimate inquiries. No, wait; it's outrageous, not unconscionable. Unconscionable is best applied to the policies of the Bush régime.

And now, one more rant: can those mags that accept e-submissions please acknowledge their receipt? It's obnoxious to wait for 8 months or a year, and then discover the sub was never received. And regarding lack of timely response: if the Paris Review can deal with e-inquiries, you lesser life-forms should be able to do so without having a hissy-cow. Et na.