Why Does it Take so Long for Editors to Respond to Submissions?

You worked on an amazing shoot, curated the images, and created the perfect submission. Then it’s the hard part – Waiting. We know and understand that the suspense can be painful. But have you ever thought about why editors require so much time to review their submissions? We’ve gathered their feedback to give you a bit of insight into their submission review process and put together the 6 reasons why editors take so long to respond to submissions

1. They take the review process quite seriously: Each publication can receive hundreds of submissions per month, so giving each submission the review time is deserves can literally take hours. They spend time thinking about each submission, and rarely accept or reject it immediately. They need to envision the post, what images they would use on social media, and make a thoughtful decision about publishing it. Providing as much information as you can is key! Things like missing vendors, no album story or not including the couple’s email address can delay the progress made on a submission. Helpful hint: Want to know an editor’s response time? Check out their Two Bright Lights publication profile page.

2. Their editorial calendar requires a lot of curation: Just because your submission is sent, doesn’t mean the publication is able to review and publish it immediately. Think of your submission like a meeting – if you set up the time without contacting the other party about their availability, there’s a good chance it won’t be the best timing for them. They may love the images or the story, but need to make sure it logically fits into their calendar.

3. Reviewing submissions is like writing a book: Publications, such as print, may only be published once every six months, which means that they will be reviewing submissions only a few times per year. One editor shared that putting together their magazine was like curating a book. They have to look for a balance of themes, colors, age/gender/ethnic/geographic diversity and can’t accept anything until they see all of their submissions.

4. They need a variety of content: Because publications feature events and shoots in a variety of colors, styles, and locations, they have to make sure that what is going on their calendar is balanced among those factors. At times they have to wait for more submissions to come in that will complete the balance in their editorial calendar before being able to make decisions about their current submissions.

5. Deadlines are set far in advance: Many publications work with long lead times and so they put out early feelers for submissions with certain themes, but aren’t able to narrow them down until the submission deadline has passed and they can review everything all at once.

6. They’re stretched for time and resources: Like most of us, many publishers are small business owners, with even smaller teams. We know plenty of editors who are one man/woman shows! To make sure they have the time to thoughtfully review all the submissions they receive, they schedule it into their workflow, setting aside time once a week or a few times per month to review what they have received.

For more tips and insight into the getting published process, check out the Education section on the Two Bright Lights blog!


Photo courtesy of Kim Payant Photography.

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