There’s something going on at Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, but what it is isn’t clear.
Back in 2018 I sold my first story to F&SF and woot, after 14 years of submissions, with The Moss Kings I had finally written something that was good enough! What validation, what excitement. What writerly joy!
There some expected back and forth on my submission. I was given editorial commentary and advice, resulting among other things in a change of title. All in all, my story was the better for it and I learned some very useful things too. All proceeded to schedule and Moss Kings was published some eight months later in the 2019 May/June issue. I was delighted.
October 2022 I submitted my sixth story since Moss Kings was accepted, and received the usual automated receipt. But I didn’t get the expected turnaround.
In January I queried, and received no reply.
I queried again in February. Again, no reply.
Then, in late March I received an acceptance offer! I was very surprised, but this was terrific news. I read on:
“I will be in touch regarding next steps for acquisition; however, the story is not likely to be published before 2024. This process can take from six weeks to six months, so if this timeline will not work well for you, please let me know so I can take your work out of the queue.”
Well, OK. I wasn’t exactly happy about the timescales. Nevertheless, this was F&SF, and this would be my second story with them. This time it had only taken five years! A second offer meant a huge amount to me and so I did what I thought was the professional thing, accepted with enthusiasm, swallowed the disappointment and kept my thoughts to myself.
Six weeks passed, and then six months. I gave it another month. A year after my original submission I queried again. By now I had read about similar experiences many other writers had been having with F&SF on Writer Beware and elsewhere. As a result I didn’t have great hopes for a reply and lo, a reply was not forthcoming.
This was incredibly frustrating. What should I do? Start again? Or am I in this submission stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er? This is F&SF after all, a prestige magazine.
Some of the advice I’d had on this matter is that the F&SF’s deservedly high reputation is part of the problem. Too much slack is being cut because of the magazine this is. And I know I am one of those who has been cutting it.
What to do? I honestly don’t know. I am just so disappointed. Keep waiting? Frankly, life is too short.
Just over three years ago I was diagnosed with advanced, early onset, aggressive prostate cancer. I asked the doctor to give it to me straight. She said mean survival rate was five years. I have no reason to believe that diagnosis has changed. The six and a half months of chemo from February to August was sheer hell.
If there’s one thing better than having a story accepted by a top-tier magazine, it’s being able to see that story in print. I would like that very much. Right now I am struggling to believe I will. Hope, as they say, dies last, but I’m losing hope and I’m starting to think this story will never see the light of day while I am here to see it.
F&SF, where are you?
What’s going on?