Drew Lackovic comments on the submission process:
There are few things I loathe more than spending several hours prepping and submitting stories for publication. I hate doing it more than taxes -- at least with doing your taxes you usually get some money back at the end. With the submission process I always end up feeling a combination of pissed and nauseous for having wasted so much time in doing something that has a 1 in 100 or so chance of doing anything for me.
That being said, I just finished my first stint doing an open reading period for Ontologica, and it was a very different experience. Since it was our first open reading period, the slush pile wasn't really all that huge-- I had about 40 stories sent to me over a two month span -- but the thing that struck me the most is that a lot of people submitting (I'm also guilty of this) don't really read submission requirements and/or the mission statement of the journal. With Ontologica being an essay first, fiction, poetry and art second kind of girl, you wouldn't really expect fiction submissions to outsell everything else, but over half of our submissions were for fiction, and all but three of them were rejected, largely for not fitting with the direction of the journal. What I'm getting at, is that if we as writers spend more time doing what editors suggest, reading some of the journal we want to submit to, we can all reduce the amount of chaff going into submission slush piles, and increase response times, hopefully reduce the amount of form rejections, and ultimately spend less time trying to place our stories.
For this to happen though, journals need to do two things: 1. make some back issue stuff freely available for people looking to see if the journal is a good fit. 2. journals need to really spell out what they want -- something I'm definitely going to work on a little more for my next reading period. 3. for Journals to streamline the submission process -- totally on the same page with you there, Jason. There is nothing worse than having to port 5 versions of the same story because you're working on simultaneously submitting.