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.
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
- 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.
- 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.