The making of a magazine
Every now and then, I receive an e-mail or letter from a potential contributor who wants his or her article to appear in WildBird and goes about it in the completely wrong way. Here’s the seventh wrong way: crossing the line between follow-up and harassment.
If you read a magazine's submission guidelines thoroughly, you'll likely find a grace period, something like "Please allow six to eight weeks for a reply to your query." That's a very optimistic time-lapse, in my experience. Depending on the size of the magazine's editorial staff, you might need to wait three or more months to hear from an editor.
In their enthusiasm, some writers go a little overboard. If a potential contributor calls me about a query that arrived a month ago, then I might get irritated. I need discussions about queries and assignments to take place via e-mail so that the writer and I both have a paper trail.
In the "going overboard" realm, please refrain from bombarding an editor with queries and manuscripts (many of us despise unsolicited manuscripts). I know of a writer who sent six packages within 12 weeks to an editor. Oy. While we greatly appreciate enthusiasm, we also appreciate a certain level of professionalism.
Back to the waiting game: After an editor accepts your query, you shouldn't hold your breath until the article comes out in print. Some editors work from editorial calendars that are set in stone months in advance. For instance, I generally have to finish WildBird's editorial calendar in the late spring and early summer. If someone sends a query now, I'll consider the article for a 2008 issue. (Crazy, hunh?)
Patience is paramount in print publishing.