Submission Protocol: The Escape Clause

I recently received a further consideration from a publisher that included what can best be termed an escape clause, and it prompted me to ask the following question. When should you, if ever, pass on a publication that is obviously interested in your story?

First, the letter:

I love this story! I have short-listed it. And it’s a short list.

Would you mind if I held on to this story until the close of submissions, February 1st? We just opened and we’ll receive a lot more submissions.

Please advise.

Thanks! 

This is a great further consideration letter, and I’m thrilled the editor digs the story. He’s also given me the option of pulling my story if I don’t want to wait until February. That’s a very considerate and professional thing to do, and I appreciate it. I really want to see this story in this particular anthology, so I don’t mind waiting, and I communicated that to the editor. Hopefully, my story survives the winter.

Though I decided to be patient and wait for this editor to make a decision, it left me wondering: Under what circumstances might I have pulled a story when given that option by a publisher? Obviously, if I submitted a story to a publisher, it’s because I want to see my story published with them, and I usually don’t have an issue with waiting, especially if the editor is very communicative and upfront like this one. I really tried to come up with a reason I would pull a story in a situation like this, but I kept coming back to the fact that a foot in the door with one publisher is almost always better than a cold submission to another. That said, here are a two plausible(ish) reasons you might pull a story when it’s under consideration

  1. More appropriate market. Say, for example, you wrote a story about giant radioactive katydids terrorizing a small town, and you submitted “Colossal Katydid Killers” to a semi-pro horror anthology. You get a further consideration letter from the publisher like the one above but at the same time, another anthology, Six Legged Apocalypse, a collection of stories about giant radioactive bugs, begins taking submissions, and it pays a mind-boggling 10 cents per word. Your katydid story is a perfect fit for that anthology, so, yeah, you might consider pulling your story from the first publisher and submitting to the perfect-fit publisher.
  2. Really, really long wait. The editor above asked me to wait roughly two months for a decision, which is completely reasonable. Most publishers take around 60 days to render a decision anyway. But what if the publisher wants you to wait six months or nine? That’s a long time for a story to sit idle waiting for a decision. That’s not to say I haven’t waited that long or longer, but I’ve never been given the option to pull a story under consideration from one of those publishers. I’d probably wait, with a bit of grumbling, but I could see why some writers might decide to try their luck elsewhere.

Personally, if I get a further consideration letter like the one above, I’m going to wait. Though an enthusiastic response like this one isn’t a sure thing, I like my chances. Couple that with a perfectly reasonable wait time, and I can’t see a real reason to pull the story.

I’d love to hear from my fellow writers about this one. Would you pull a story in this situation or one like it? If you would or have done so in the past, tell me about it in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Submission Protocol: The Escape Clause

  1. Is it a market that allows sim-subs? If I had my story out in other places that I liked and got a yes from one of them before the folks who asked for patience were planning to respond, I would probably go for the sure thing.

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  2. Nice to hear some editors are sending out “further consideration” letters. Your two reasons make good sense, Aeryn. Great point about simultaneous submissions from another poster. I, too, would go with the sure thing in that case.

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    • It seems further consideration letters are fairly common, and I like getting them. Though it ratchets up the tension of waiting for a yes or no, it’s nice to know you’re at least in the running.

      In the case of a sim-sub, yeah, I would go with the sure thing too. Even if I hadn’t received an acceptance from one of the other publishers, I’d let the further consideration publisher know the story had been sim-subbed (if I hadn’t already done that in the cover letter).

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  3. I don’t think I’ve ever pulled a story when an editor asked to hold it for further consideration, and I doubt I ever will. (Presuming, of course, that nothing wonky happens. I had a story accepted for an anthology pending final approval–in this case the publisher could exercise veto power over the editor prior to the issuance of contracts. Then the editor had a health crises and essentially fell off the face of the Earth. I waited a reasonable amount of time for the editor to recover, he apparently never did, and I’ve moved on with the story.)

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      • What about this?

        I originally wrote a story about 8 months ago and submitted it. I got a further consideration letter. Then I went back and read the story. It needed drastic improvement. I edited it and it’s much better now. Since the original place I sent it allows simulanious submissions, I’ve been sending the edited version out to other markets. It has recieved several encouraging rejections and personal rejections.

        The original version has a lot of beginner’s mistakes in it, and it’s kind of embarressing. I’d be happy to get an acceptance, but I’m not sure if I want that version published. If I write the editor that sent the further consideration letter, I am afraid of alienating him (i.e. it’s good enough for your publication but not good enough for me…). So what do I do? Hope for a rejection? Under sell the story to a worse place so that I get the version I want published? Just leave it and if the story gets published use a pen name? Just leave it and be happy that someone likes my beginner writing?

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      • I say don’t sweat it. If the first publisher accepts the story, they’re going to edit it. You’ll have a chance to approve those edits and possibly suggest a few additional changes that better reflect the story in its current version.

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