Apex Magazine submissions update

by on Feb 17, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Okay, so I keep seeing variations of the “Oh my god, Apex is taking forever to get back to me!” posts around Facebook, and rampant speculation as to what tier of reading your story is being considered at–whether things are under “X round” consideration and whatnot. So, seeing as I am the only person partaking (well, spectating for the most part) in these conversations who actually, you know, *works for Apex*, let me address some things.

Bear in mind that the following only speaks to fiction–I can’t speak to how anything related to the poetry side of Apex currently works because I have no involvement in that. But by all means, please feel free to share this around, with all the caveats included, please.

First, Apex’s *old* response window was 21 days. That was under the previous editorial team and is *no longer the case*. The magazine’s guidelines (linked below) list the current response window as within 30 days. There is, as far as I know, an auto-response e-mail generated when you submit a story to Apex. As I recall, that auto-response lists the outside response time as within 60 days. And the guidelines listed on the website, in agreement with that estimate, advise you to query if you have not heard from Apex within 60 days. I understand from some people that the auto-response was not going out for the first few days after Apex re-opened. If you didn’t get one and subbed within the first half of January I would recommend that you query Apex to make sure your sub was, in fact, received by us.

Second, Apex has a two-tier editing structure. That’s it. We don’t have a public breakdown of how the editorial process works like Strange Horizons (http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-process.shtml) and a couple of other places do, but it’s not exactly a secret. There are slush readers (first tier) and then there’s Sigrid Ellis, current Editor-in-Chief of the magazine (second tier). There are other people involved in the magazine (Look! An entire page full of lovely people who work for the magazine in different capacities: http://www.apex-magazine.com/masthead-2/), but if you’ve sent fiction, that’s it: your story is either with a slush reader, or with Sigrid.

Third, if your story has been sent up to Sigrid, you will be sent an e-mail telling you so. If you have not received such an e-mail, your story is still with a slush reader.

Fourth, Sigrid is female; please address her as such in your cover letters. I see far too many cover letters addressed to “Mr. Sigrid Ellis,” and when that happens it makes it look like you don’t care. Or, better yet, address your cover letters “Dear Sigrid Ellis, Editor-in-Chief,” which gets around the gendered usage (and makes you look more professional to boot!). Of course, you could always just address your cover letters “Dear Editors.” That last is perfectly fine, and also more inclusive of your friendly neighbourhood slush readers (It’s also a good way to approach any magazine whose masthead isn’t exactly clear on the matter of who *is* their Editor-in-Chief.)

Fifth, re response times, there are currently a fair number of slush readers working for Apex (I believe we’re up to fifteen, or sixteen, of us now?), and we all read differently and on different schedules, so there is inevitably going to be variance in the turnaround time on your submission. Though, you are all welcome to know *my* process, for some form of reference (again, this is specific to *me*): If your story comes to me then the turnaround time is (on top of the time between receipt and it being assigned to me) usually something up to seven days (normally two to three). If I’m giving your story a second look I might hold onto it for as much as a couple of weeks, but that’s pretty rare.

Of course, if your story does come to me, there’s a 99.4% chance I’m going to reject it. (Yes, I ran the numbers on my corner of the slush pile. You’re welcome.)

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, if you’ll forgive the platitude. So do please continue submitting to Apex, just bear the above in mind. And, in all seriousness, spread this around as you like. Better people work from an informed position on the matter than not.

This post originally appeared on Michael’s Facebook profile 2/17/14

Michael Matheson is a slush reader for Apex Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook here.


  1. Hi,

    I submitted to Apex Magazine 2 months and 27 days ago and got “… We would like to hold it for further consideration…” after 4 days.

    Two months and 27 days! I am wondering if I should query.

    • Nope. We’ll get to your story. I promise.


  1. Day 062 - The Struggling Writer - […] to one of the slush pile readers, Apex rejects about 99.4% of their submissions before they reach the editor-in-chief.…

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