So today I want to talk to you about deadlines.  A deadline is the date an editor or publisher sets as the last possible moment an assignment is due in their hands.  The deadline is usually decided based on the publication schedule, and there’s not often a lot of wiggle room.  Writers who meet their deadlines (or turn in their work early) are an editor’s dream.

At the moment, I’m more of the nightmare variety.

I owe a certain editor (who is handsome and charming and delightful and the life of any party and gosh what else can I think of to flatter him with right this second) a story for an upcoming anthology.  At this very second, I’m not the last person to turn in a story, and as soon as I finish writing this post, I’m going to work on finalizing my story so I can keep that position intact.  He’s been very kind to not fuss at me over this, and I owe him at least one drink at ConCarolinas.  (In fact, if any of you come to the con this year, please ask me if I made good, just so I don’t let it slip by me in the madness that is con!)

But honestly, this is an unusual situation.  Generally you don’t want to let your deadlines go by.  I know life has its complications, and sometimes such things as writing tend to fall by the way when the washing machine starts belching water onto the floor and your grandmother slips and breaks a hip and your son’s science teacher emails to ask why he didn’t turn in his project and the credit card company would like more money, thank you.  Editors suffer the same miseries as the rest of us, and if you see the deadline looming and know for certain that you’re going to miss it, it’s a good idea to get in touch.  This isn’t quite like high school, when you told the teacher you couldn’t finish on time and her only response was “30 points off.”  Editors not only have a schedule, but a set number of stories they want in their book.  If you can finish a little late, most of the time they’re willing to work with you.  And if you know for sure that you just can’t turn in a story at all, it’s good to say so early so the editor can approach another writer to fill the space.

So, tl;dr…meet your deadlines and keep communication open.  And be prepared to ply your editor with alcohol if necessary.

By the way, have I mentioned that the deadline to submit a story to The Weird Wild West is Tuesday, March 31, at 11:59 pm?  ‘Cause it is.  If you need to check the guidelines, they’re at eSpec Books.  And the submission email is


4 comments to Deadlines

  • I’ll second that, especially the part about communication. A few months ago, I had to ask for an extension on a deadline because family stuff happened (the kid was sick, then I got sick – you know the drill.) Being able to tell the editor where I was in the writing process and give a reasonable estimate of when I could have the thing done, helped. (Also, said editor is a very nice person to start with and I owe him a drink or three at the next con.) And have a good reputation. If you’re known for not missing deadlines, people will be more willing to work with you when you need an exception.

  • If your editor and my editor are the same person, he’s going to be darned tipsy at ConCarolinas! 😉

  • Razziecat

    Oh, deadlines are a VERY familiar word in my world! I work for a newspaper (advertising, not editorial) and they are a daily occurrence. Give me a deadline and I understand the importance of meeting it. Somebody at work has a sign that reads, “If deadline weren’t important, they wouldn’t begin with ‘dead.’ ” 😉

  • Honestly, in a way I love deadlines. They’re concrete goals that leave no room for goofing off (well, not most of the time.) But they have to come from an editor – I’m terrible at setting my own deadlines. I guess I’m just not that scared of myself.

    And in case anyone wonders, I did finish the story and ship it off last night. So I wasn’t last! Yippee!