Officially Closed to Subs

I'd like to switch you onYes, it’s true. Sybil’s Garage is officially closed to submissions as of today. If you just got yours in, in the nick of time, please allow 30 days before querying. However, I hope to have responses for everyone long before then.

We received 295 submissions of fiction. 254 have currently not been accepted. We have 33 stories to read, some of which are in consideration.

Overall, I think the process went very smoothly. For the last issue, issue three, we used an email address for submissions, and with a little script I wrote we forwarded the stories to each editor in a round-robin fashion. But we lost a few emails this way, and it wasn’t immune to spam, which when sent to the submissions address caused a little confusion.

So for this issue I decided to use my programming skills and craft a web-based submissions tracker system. Authors upload their files to our web server, and our editors can read the submissions anywhere, even at work, and not just where they have access to their personal email. In addition, the system allows us to see each other’s queues, which becomes very useful when it comes time to decide on a story. It makes it very easy to share. It also has a handy little comment feature, which lets us record our thoughts in a blog-like fashion. I’ve relied heavily on these comments to make final decisions on a story. In rejection letters for stories which are close, but not quite there, I’ve often quoted the editors’ comments verbatim because I felt the more information we can give an author, the more helpful it is.

We could have used a few more features. I would have liked to save more information from each author, like snail mail addresses and real names in addition to pen names. From the behind the scenes point of view, it would have been easier if the editors could see a log of our rejection letters because referring back to them can often be helpful. These features and more will hopefully make it into issue five’s submission system.

In general, we received good feedback from authors regarding our rejection letters. We tried to be as helpful as possible. I’m very interested to hear from you guys, the authors. Did you find our submission system adequate? Was there something lacking or a feature you thought it should have but didn’t? Did we do a good job? Please comment below!

Once again, thanks to all authors, poets, & artists who submitted to us! It is, as always, you who make the magazine what it is.

Thank you!

8 Replies to “Officially Closed to Subs”

  1. Speaking as a twice-submitter, I found the system very easy to use and I was glad to receive a little comment with both of my stories about why they were not quite right for your magazine. Hopefully I’ll have something for the next issue.

  2. Alankria, all of the editors of Sybil’s Garage are also in (or formerly were in) the same writers group. We have learned to read stories with a critical eye, and so if we saw something in a particular story that didn’t work, we thought it would be helpful to mention that in the reply.

    Being a writer as well as an editor, I see both sides of the slush pile, and in my own experience, I prefer personal rejections, with specifics, rather than a form letter “no thanks.”

    It was impossible for us to give detailed responses for every submission, but if you did get comments it usually means that we read your story all the way through and thought about what did and didn’t work. For those who might not know, critiquing a story is a lot more time consuming than simply giving a thumbs-up/thumbs-down. We were able to do that for many stories because we have a large number of editors for a relatively small submissions pile (compared to the larger mags.) I hope that in the future, as Sybil’s Garage’s reputation and circulation grows, that we can still continue to provide feedback to a majority of the stories.

  3. From an editor’s point-of-view, the new system was fantastic. I was simply buried with work and school these past few months, and being able to log into the system and read stories no matter where I was – be it during a slow day at work or while visiting my family in Indiana – literally made it possible for me to even be able to participate. Great job.

  4. Devin, I don’t think I realized how accessible the system would be until after I created it. It really made it functional for everyone. Glad you liked it.

    I did notice too that you had one of the best response times of all the editors. I need to give you a gold star or something.

  5. I ditto Devin on the effectiveness and convenience of the new system. Suggestions for improvement; (1) Easier access to responses we’ve sent out, and (2) swag baskets for the editors.

  6. As a submitter, I thought the system was just peachy, and thanks for the helpful feedback! I look forward to having the chance to sub to y’all again.

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