Monday, July 13, 2009


...not the fun dance-party game, either.

I'm writing about "short list" limbo. Two pieces of mine are currently floating with the other undead souls in short list purgatory. I'm eager for both to make the proverbial "cut" and slip through the pearly gates of publication, but short list limbo has damned a good many stories in the past. I've seen a few of my own favorite creations fall in the name of "hey, but at least it made the short list."

Would I rather not know the stories were short listed? No...I think I like the mere suggestion of publication-hood. But the waiting...ugh. Shortlistage has a nasty way of making the waiting that much longer.

How about you, dear writerly-folk: do you like a short list notification, or would you rather stumble through the dark until a definitive answer lands in your box?


Rebecca Nazar said...

I've only been in "short list" limbo twice--fairly tough markets. Both were eventually rejected. Well, at least I somewhat made it, right? Hang in there.

Unknown said...

I have two stories that have been held over at two semi-pro pubs according to Duotrope, and I don't know if they've been lost or held for further consideration.

One of those two stories had been with another market for almost 90 days previously. I finally mustered up the nerve to query, and got an immediate response back that felt to me like, "Oh, whoops. Sorry 'bout that. Rejected."

So yeah, I guess to answer your question: if I'm on a short list, I appreciate when the editor lets me know.

Fox Lee said...

Short-listing is the ultimate form of pain and pleasure.
On one hand, yay! I'm still in the running! But if I end up being rejected, it stings like a bitch.

That said, knowing I came close puts a little more spring in my step when I go search Duotrope.

Aaron Polson said...

Rebecca - I like the thought: "somewhat" made it.

Jeremy - I hear you I'm waiting 500+ days a a market.

Natalie - it does make finding the next potential suckers--er, market, easier.

Katey said...

I think I like it just because it's good to know there's progress being made. Any kind of update from a publisher is welcome.

But it's both painful and awesome, definitely :/

K.C. Shaw said...

I like knowing a story of mine's shortlisted, just because that means it's probably a pretty good story. Good luck on yours!

Danielle Birch said...

I've only been short-listed once and the story was accepted, and although it did make me more impatient it's a great feeling to be short-listed. Fingers crossed for good news for you.

Barry Napier said...

Yeah, I like them because at least even if it doesn't make it all the way, you know it has merit of some sort.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I like being told, it is confirmation that the story isn't complete crap. I have had two stories shortlisted (told to me by the editors), one was accepted and I am still waiting for word on the other one.

Jameson T. Caine said...

I'll echo what Natalie said. Getting shortlisted is pure awesomeness and makes one feel good. Getting rejected after shortlisted just flat out sucks and can be very depressing.

What about getting shortlisted and then rejected, only to be unable to find a home for it elsewhere? On the one hand, being shortlisted makes you feel like the story wasn't total crap, but then three additional rejections (all of them fairly quick) can make you think that perhaps it was.

Cate Gardner said...

I raise you one - one with a pro mag (so not going to happen) and 2 semi-pro. And Frog's amongst them, it's his second hold request. Sigh!

To answer your question though, I like them.

Carrie Harris said...

I like to obsess to the fullest, so I'm in the want-to-know category. But then again, I don't write that many shorts, so why would anyone care what I want?

This is meant to sound less petulant than it probably reads.

Anonymous said...

I am the queen of rejected shortlisted pieces. And it kills me. But it's good to know that I've been shortlisted, mainly because writers live on tiny shreds of hope. It's also nice to know where my piece is, because that floating in limbo without a clue thing tends to make me obsessive.


Unknown said...

i'm shortlisted at the moment as well. and i don't really like it. mainly bc as more and more time goes by i get into the "oh i'm so in" time of mindframe. which is okay, but then come the dashed hopes.

i don't mind learning upon rejection that i was shortlisted. but the waiting... yuck

BT said...

Nat got it in one - bitter sweet experiences for sure.

Until a few months ago, I'd never been shortlisted and looked forward to the day my writing became good enough for me to move onto joining those who were.

Now I've been long-listed, shortlisted, long-listed and then progressed to short listed, and accepted and rejected at each level.

The worst thing I've discovered is markets who normally give you some personalised feedback on a rejection, don't give you much in the way of feedback as to why you didn't make the final cut - what, the stories good but not quite good enough - that's it.

And then JT is right to follow up - I just got the best rejection I've ever had, and it was for a story which was shortlisted and then rejected. Ah the fun of it all.

So do I like short-listing - not anymore. Tell me I'm in, still under consideration or rejected. Preferably give me some good feedback if the last option is taken at any point in the process. If I get impatient to know what's going on, I'll query.

Benjamin Solah said...

I think I'd rather have my short, short listed. I've never gotten there before and it'd be the closest I've been to being published.