So today I get this email from Baen Books:
January 7, 2009
Thank you for showing us your novel, The Shattered Sky. Unfortunately it does not seem right for us.
Reader's comment: Very interesting premise. Well written,this one will find a home somewhere.
While due to the volume of submissions and the press of business it is impossible for us comment in greater depth,please do not take this rejection as being necessarily areflection on your work; we can accept fewer than one percent of the manuscripts submitted to us. Best of luck in another market.
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No big deal, just a fairly standard rejection letter, something you have to expect often as a writer.
EXCEPT I sent them that manuscript in May, 2007!
Why the HELL did it take them 20 months to reply? What, they only have one old guy in the mountains reading the slush pile part time, and they send him the manuscripts by yearly mule train?
I have been working as a writer since the mid-90s, and have been published professionally dozens of times. I am a published novelist, abeit not a rich or famous one (yet). Its not like I don't know how things are supposed to work in this business. In publishing, 3 months (90 days) is considered the standard turnaround time for submissions. Six months is considered acceptable but unprofessional.
When I submitted the manuscript, Baen Books said their turnaround time was 9 months. Kind of lengthy, but at least they were up front with it, I thought. So what the heck, I sent the book in, and also I sent standard queries at the 9 months and 1 year mark. When I got no reply, I basically just wrote them off. Rude bastards, I thought, but oh well.
But somehow, this pisses me of even more than getting no reply, because this just smacks of complete incompetence. This was an e-mail submission. It basically means that my submission, along with probably hundreds if not thousands of others, were just sitting in a computer file for a year and a half until someone at Baen deigned to unseal their lips from the posterior of some celebrity author and finally look at them.
And worse yet, Baen has a 'no simultaneous submissions' policy, which means they don't want you to submit your novel to anyone else while they look at it. I hope no one actually took that seriously, because that means that a potential sale to a REAL publisher could be delayed for almost two years while editor Turtle McSlow of Slothdom at Baen apparently went into hibernation.
Imagine waiting 20 months for someone to reply to your job resume, or to your college application, or to let you know your grade for a class, because that's what this is like. A complete and total breakdown of professional respect and courtesy on the part of Baen toward any prospective writer.
If Baen thinks we're so disposable, then do the same with them. Avoid working with them if possible. Go to a publisher that respects you and your work, not one that lets it, and any potential opportunities it could earn you, rot in their computer files for over a year and a half.