The Submission Grinder Really is a Diabolical Plot (but in a good way!)
By Sara Codair
Diabolical Plots is the title of a website that publishes speculative stories and articles. The Submission Grinder is part of it. For the writers, The Grinder can be as diabolical as any of the plots in the stories. It generates nail-biting suspense and encourages obsessive behaviors.
Unlike Submittable, The Moksha Submission System or other submission managers, users, not literary magazines, update The Grinder. It’s not a system for tracking your submission through a specific market’s slush pile. It’s a system from tracking how quickly markets respond to writers and for keeping track of where you’ve submitted what, how long it took to get a response and what that response was.
This may not seem too diabolical at first glance. It’s not like the Clarkesworld submission manager where you can watch your queue number drop, see your story change from Received to Under Review to Rejected. Nothing changes on your submissions unless you change it. The danger is in watching how markets you submitted to respond to other people.
A couple months ago, I submitted a story to a market called Beneath Ceaseless Skies. When my story had been in-progress for approximately 40 days, I saw people post rejections for times like 35 days or 30 days. This made me think that they had read my story, and put it aside for further consideration. When I saw an email pop up in my inbox at 45 days, I though for sure it was going to be an acceptance.
It wasn’t. On the bright side, it was a personal rejection that gave feedback.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson here.
I check the grinder multiple times a day. I study how long certain markets take to send acceptances versus rejections. I monitor how long my pieces have been out and mentally categorize them as ones I might hear back from soon and ones I still have a while to wait for.
While this is a little, or very, obsessive on my part, it has a lot of benefits.
Without it, I would be checking my email twice as much as I do now. I’ve found way more markets to submit to than I would have just searching through Google or directories people posted on blogs because The Grinder’s advanced search feature is amazing! It lets me search by genre, length, and pay category. I can even limit my search to publications with a quick turn around. And unlike Duotrope, it is completely free!
Yes, I do obsess over The Grinder, but the results have been more or less positive. I’ve gotten a few stories accepted to places I’ve found on The Grinder. They were how I discovered Foliate Oak, the market who published “The Closet: His and Hers” and 101 Fiction who will be publishing a micro story called “Maturity” next weekend.
So when I say The Grinder is diabolical, I don’t mean it’s bad or evil. It’s like a collection of good stories. It sucks up my attention, and it leaves me in suspense. Eventually, I find a happy ending, take a brief breather, and then dive into the next story. If you haven’t used it yet and are trying to publish fiction, I suggest you give it a try.
And if you use, and get absorbed in the suspense of the submission process like I do, try to evoke that kind of feeling for your readers. Make them feel the suspense and make them want to know what happens next. Use your struggles through in the slush pile to make your fiction better!