Say you’ve had a story/poem/whatever accepted for publication by a journal. First of all: congratulations! You really deserved that. Soon, you’ll be famous. But that’s not my point. Say the journal in question keeps postponing the release of its next issue. You inquire and the editor assures you that it’ll be soon, maybe tosses out a likely publication date. But that date passes. And another one passes. Do you feel any compunction whatsoever from pulling the accepted work to resubmit elsewhere? How soon is too soon? When is it no longer rude, but reasonable? When are you a fool not to?

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SHYA SCANLON is the Fiction Reviews Editor for The Nervous Breakdown. Scanlon's work has appeared in the Mississippi Review, Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Guernica Magazine, Opium Magazine, and others. His book of prose poetry, In This Alone Impulse, was published by Noemi Press in January, 2010. In 2009, his novel Forecast was serialized online across 42 journals and literary blogs as part of the Forecast 42 Project. Forecast will be published by Flatmancrooked in December, 2010. He received his MFA from Brown University, where he was awarded the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction. Please visit him at www.shyascanlon.com.

7 responses to “Is it too soon?”

  1. ahhh, yes. good question. i’ve had this happen and well, i can’t say I’ve figured out the “polite” way to ask for it back but yeah, someone should have cajones and say, “hey, this may or may not happen soon and um . . . we totally understand if you want this piece published elsewhere” right? i guess on the one hand i keep thinking, well, they did want to publish it, so i guess I should just wait but on the other, I say, “alright already!!!!” I feel you. thanks for posting this 🙂

    • Shya Scanlon says:

      not the worst problem to have, granted. but something about being so close to having your piece out there, and helpless to take it the final step, is terribly frustrating. one feels the need to explore more proactive measures.

  2. Chuck N. says:

    Give it up entirely and become an ironworker.

  3. Joe says:

    I’ve waited as long as two years from the time of submission to the time of publication. Basically I followed up with the editor every six months or so just to say, “Hi. You still wanna publish my story? Any word when that’ll happen?” Luckily, the editor was very kind and we had good communication. At the initial stage of acceptance, it wasn’t that certain that the publication was going to continue. But it rebounded, and when the story came out, I was very happy. I considered briefly retracting the story at one point, I think maybe a year after it was accepted. It had been rejected several times before this acceptance, so I wanted to see it through to the end, and I had faith that it would come out eventually in this journal. If the publication had failed and the story had never been released, I would’ve been heartbroken and bad things would’ve happened. I think my fury would’ve caused the earth to open and swallow people in cars, much like the ending of Superman. But in this case, there would be no Superman to turn back the rotation of the earth and save Lois. No, this time, Lois would’ve died, and so would have everyone else. Whew. Thank God that didn’t happen.

    • Shya Scanlon says:

      I think we all have something to thank you for, Joe. You really made the shit out of that decision. Good job.

      I think it comes down a mix of trust and desperation. But then, what doesn’t?

  4. Joe says:

    Yeah, I think you nailed it. It’s weighing the value of an acceptance vs. how long you can wait.

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