The big pro magazines have required snail mail submissions forever. I always thought that the $3 postage cost of submitting to them was a kind of toll gate that was maintained to keep the submission levels at a tolerable level.
As it is the pro slush piles are 10s of thousands of stories per year to fill a dozen slots. There is very little chance of standing out in slush piles of this magnitude – even with a great story. There is even some talk that they clear the slush from time to time and reject everyone at once without any stories being read whenever the piles get too high.
Asimov’s has now created an online submission form to combat the huge inflow of paper. I guess just physically handling the submissions – opening envelopes, printing rejections and mailing the rejections out – costs too much. In fact the paper submission process has to be very inefficient. Even if they doubled their submission numbers the digital system should pay for itself.
(I am an expert in Document Management systems, having written dozens of systems over the years. I have managed and maintained systems that handled hundreds of thousands of documents per day, creating terabytes of online data and controlling the work flow associated with these systems.)
Asimov’s can now reject thousands of manuscripts at once by clicking “select all” and pressing the “reject” button. A staff of paid readers has been replaced by one secretary who will take five minutes off from doing her nails each month to wrangle the slush.
I have a half finished story about cell phones (yes, I wrote another one, and yes, I hate cell phones. This is the fourth story about how much I hate cell phones). As soon as I finish it I will try out the new system.
J.J. Adams has an online system for slush at his pro zine, and I would have used it, but I feel more comfortable with SamsDot for certain kinds of stories. The stress of waiting on an unknown market is too much for me. I wonder if he is still in business? I have an idea for another story that may be easy to write, if I only didn’t have to attend all these stupid meetings.