Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

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Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby amoskalik » Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:11 am

In my limited experience, most publishers appear to apply a FIFO scheme to their slush piles. I surmise this from a year of obsessively watching the results come in on the Grinder.

Assuming FIFO, it is possible to know whether your story has made it out of the slush pile. If stories that have been submitted after yours are getting rejected, then yours must have been judged by a first reader and passed up the chain.

Apex, having reopened after a six month hiatus, seems to be doing something different. Everyday, the list of rejections are from every possible submission day prior. For example on Thursday, we see 1 one day rejection, 1 two day rejection, 2 three day rejections, 1 four day rejection, 3 five day rejections, and 2 six day rejections.

I submitted on the 2nd. When I did I received an email with a link to their Moksha Submissions System. This tells me my position in the queue. I am currently at position 63 which is not far from where I was at the time of submission.

From this we can gather two things. First, they have a system that makes it possible to approach their slush pile in a systematic way and in fact likely makes it difficult not to. Second, they are not using FIFO.

If they are using a system but it is not FIFO, then what is it and why are they using it? Here is my hypothesis. They are purposely reviewing stories from each submission day each day. The reason for this is to reduce their median response time, which is something us Grinder-philes look at.

There is a potential second reason that is even more conjectural and more sophisticated. The cost of submission to a writer is time. The shorter the turn around time, the less the cost. The only true benefit is acceptance, but acceptance is rare, so we writers look for pseudo benefits, like personal rejections... and evidence that we made it through to higher level editor.

So by not using FIFO, some stories get rejected sooner, reducing the cost of submission for those writers, and some later, BUT with the perception that their story made it further than it actually did (I saw later subs rejected before mine, I must be through to the second round!), therefore imparting a pseudo-benefit. In both cases the writer is more likely to submit to Apex in the future.
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby LawrenceVanHoof » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:07 pm

You can see your position in the queue?
Oops, where did that idea go? I had it a minute ago....

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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby amoskalik » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:14 pm

Yes, Apex should send a confirmation email after your submission with a link to a status page. On this page is your queue position.
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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Rebecca Birch » Sat Jan 09, 2016 1:12 pm

Sorry to be dense, but what is FIFO?
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Sat Jan 09, 2016 1:50 pm

Rebecca Birch wrote:Sorry to be dense, but what is FIFO?


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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Tamlyn » Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:42 pm

that makes more sense than fly in, fly out.
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby orbivillein » Sat Jan 09, 2016 3:00 pm

Sounds to me like the system is more of a what grabs your attention, first reader, and a second priority of keeping the submission responses timely. Submission manager software makes several screening selection methods possible and practical, non-linear, non-chronological among them.

Paper management favors first in, first out in order to systematically organize and process submissions and not lose track of SASE, envelopes, pages, submissions themselves.

Online submission favors what grabs your attention, then first in, first out, and an editor supervisor keeping up with screeners that skip past submissions that don't grab their attention, plus an array of submission management options that include alarms when a submission sits past an optional deadline. Submission titles are even more pertinent than paper if a house uses an online submission management process. Not to mention, writer bylines and cover letter curriculum vitae.

A submission manager app allows for tiers: first readers who cannot do more than read and assess, second readers who can nominate selections for higher tier scrutiny, next tier first decision-makers who forward candidates to final decision-makers. Up to six tiers for many of the apps. Higher tiers are for post acceptance staff, editors, proofreaders, layout techs, publication managers, etc. Another tier allows public submission reading though is rarely offered.

Note also that first readers could be all staff, non-staff volunteers, and could number one or dozens. If a submission queue is set up to assign submission brackets to a number of first readers, one reader could more timely progress than others and others progress slower and one slowest.

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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby amoskalik » Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:38 am

orbivillein wrote: If a submission queue is set up to assign submission brackets to a number of first readers, one reader could more timely progress than others and others progress slower and one slowest.


Ah, I see. Like the checkout lanes at a supermarket. If you pick a lane behind the person who a lot of special needs or with a cashier who struggles, then you are going to watch a lot of people come and go in other lanes while you wait.

In this case, the lanes themselves are obscured. You can only see people getting in line and then later leaving (with rejection in hand) but you cannot tell if they are in a different lane than you or even if there are different lanes.

The idea that readers are allowed to pick and choose stories I suppose is possible, but that would make the queue position they provide highly misleading as in that case here is no queue, just a grab bag.
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby orbivillein » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:29 am

State-of-the-art submission management software, not necessarily the most expensive, can be set to be as transparent to submitters as to any staff access, only non alterable and non influential for decisions.

However, the power elite yet don't want to surrender their gatekeeper status nor reveal they are as much in the dark as submitters about what constitutes a marketable story nor do they know, really, fully, what their subjective sentiments and sensibilities are. Besides, the industry has not yet realized fully how to use the software to fullest benefit. Never mind the swollen pride to which exclusivity power appeals.

So the process, to borrow the supermarket analogy, is all the behind the authorized personnel only doors, the office safe in particular. So submissions come in the front doors, browse, shop, select, check out, and leave money behind and go out with overpriced foods that are anymore industrialized mediocrity.

Generally, the flow of supermarket patrons averages out to X time per visit type: milk and staples convenience only, single meal preparation, shop for a month's supply. The foods' nutritional value is unchanged by the industrial process, perhaps improved overall; the taste quality end emotional satisfaction are starch paste and oily sawdust.

Tomatoes -- fruits, and vegetables are perfect examples -- tasteless. Industrial meats, oh my, more tasteless fat per pound than natural-fed livestock and the marketing gossip source that the flavor is from the fats, not the fiber or flesh. The ulterior point being that fat develops quicker than flesh and supports the revenue stream and profits.

Anyway, imagine a submission report and status flow showing date received, reader assigned to, up-to-the moment status, position in queue, evaluation status (grammar 3 out of 4, content and organization craft 1 out of 4, expression and voice 3 of 4, appeal 2 of 4, total 9, minimum floor 12), who's next reader if one, pending final decision date, pending acceptance or decline, comments, and several other possible in-house metrics that no business reason bars submitters from accessing. Some confidential communication must persist, though.

Not to say subjectivity evaporates, only that objectivity increases without diminishing appeal or creativity, per se. Submission manager software now makes all this above possible.

Many small houses cannot justify the extra labor to document status, though, use only submission manager default options and few of them at that, and follow hunches rather than make informed decisions, don't know the software nor want to anymore than a minimum, do less work because they don't know what they don't know and can't afford to and will stay small houses because of it. Large houses document the screening process as a necessary matter of business, easier now with the software. First readers, each reader must inform associates of a submission's status so everyone knows what is what and to justify assessments, justify their jobs, and promote favorites or demote unfavorables as the case may be.

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Beth Powers
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Beth Powers » Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:18 am

I'll throw out a couple of theories since I am also waiting in that queue:

Theory #1 - they just reopened to submissions, so perhaps the first and second rounds are reading (and responding) close together. Although just to make things more complicated, the last time I made it to the second round at Apex, I received a notification indicating that it was being held for further consideration (that was last February and with a different submission system, though).

Theory #2 - stories get assigned to different first readers, and different first readers read at different paces (this is one of my standard possible explanations for longer rejections when I don't seem to make it to a second round).

Theory #3 - the first reader has their own second look pile, so the rejection takes longer, but it doesn't make it to an official second round. A variation on this would be a system where the first reader is given the option of saying "maybe," which results in another first reader having to take a look at it--it doesn't leave the first round, but it takes longer than straight rejections.

I do enjoy having the number in the queue to obsess over wotf007
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby morshana » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:09 am

I've thought the same thing about Apex, Beth, based on my stories that have gone through the queue process there.

Here's a link you might find interesting: http://www.apex-magazine.com/for-exposu ... r-excerpt/

Jason Sizemore talks about the slush process at Apex.
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Beth Powers
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Beth Powers » Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:59 am

Thanks for the link, Jeanette! I always find it interesting to read about the various submission processes at different magazines--and it helps me to obsess over pending (and rejected) submissions with more accuracy wotf007
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby morshana » Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:20 am

Beth Powers wrote:Thanks for the link, Jeanette! I always find it interesting to read about the various submission processes at different magazines--and it helps me to obsess over pending (and rejected) submissions with more accuracy wotf007


My pleasure!

Yes, I use the info to obsess over the process of pending submissions. I watched one submission with Apex go right up to slot five before the rejection. Helped to know I'd made it through the first reader and managing editor, but made the rejection harder to know I'd gotten closer.

I don't know. I go back and forth. I think it's eaiser to submit and forget (when I accidentally do this), but my desire to study and understand and speculate rarely lets me. I feel like I'm hiding an embarrassing addiction.
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Beth Powers
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby Beth Powers » Tue Apr 05, 2016 6:43 am

morshana wrote:I don't know. I go back and forth. I think it's eaiser to submit and forget (when I accidentally do this), but my desire to study and understand and speculate rarely lets me. I feel like I'm hiding an embarrassing addiction.


True, but sometimes knowing how the submission process works can help you to submit and forget (for awhile at least). When Tor.com was open, I could pretty much send something and forget about it for several months--so maybe targeted obsessing is the key wotf008
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Re: Apex is back. New queue management scheme?

Postby morshana » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:45 am

Beth Powers wrote:
morshana wrote:I don't know. I go back and forth. I think it's eaiser to submit and forget (when I accidentally do this), but my desire to study and understand and speculate rarely lets me. I feel like I'm hiding an embarrassing addiction.


True, but sometimes knowing how the submission process works can help you to submit and forget (for awhile at least). When Tor.com was open, I could pretty much send something and forget about it for several months--so maybe targeted obsessing is the key wotf008


Yep, it is good to know when something is just going to take a while. That's when I usually forget about a submission. :)
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