I am constantly checking for when magazines and anthologies post their call for stories. For those familiar with this process, the term "simultaneous submission" should be all-too-familiar. It's one of the most important aspects in the submission process, as well as the most dreaded. It refers to whether an editor will accept a story submission from you when it is "simultaneously" being submitted to other markets as well. Some refuse to accept anything that has already been sent elsewhere, while (and this next trend fortunately is showing up more and more) others understand the need to send to as many publishers as possible and will accept simultaneous submissions. Why is this so important?
An editor preparing for an upcoming issue or anthology will set a reply date (or, if not an actual date, then the number of days or months that it will take for you to get your response). This is not set in stone, however, and editors may stray from this time depending on how overwhelmed they are with submissions. Sometimes they will let you know; oftentimes they will not. And some publishers do not even give you a hint at how long it will take right from the start. I also can't tell you (well, I actually can since I keep detailed records of all my submissions) how many times an editor will not even let you know if your story has been rejected and only contact the ones whom they will be purchasing stories from.
So just how long can a story be held in limbo like this until it can safely, and in good conscience, be submitted to one of those publishers that will not accept simultaneous submissions?
I wish I had an answer for this. All I can do is post this in hopes that publishers will be aware of this situation (that not all editors reply according to such regulated schedules--if they reply at all!) and perhaps adjust their policies to be more lenient and accommodating to their submitting authors.