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A couple of magazine notes

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I'm slowly getting back into magazine stuff.

(For those new around here: I'm a fiction editor for an online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Strange Horizons, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit staffed entirely by volunteers. We're halfway through our fifth year of operation.)

We're having a milestone: depending on how you count, the total number of fiction submissions we've received since we launched reached 10,000 sometime in the past two weeks. I know that's less than a year's worth of stories for some of the big sf magazines, but it seems like a lot to me.

A note to authors while I'm thinking of it: if you send a submission to a magazine and then you discover that you've done something minor wrong (like including the wrong wordcount, or using the wrong subject line), simply resubmitting may not be the best possible option. In several cases in the past few weeks, we've received two or even three slightly different submissions of the same story (with different subject lines, or different wordcounts), and tracking the latest version gets messy. I understand that it may be less scary to just resubmit than to drop a note to the editors explaining that you made a mistake, but really, sending a non-submission note is a much better idea, at least with SH. If we want you to resubmit at that point, we'll say so, and you can go ahead.

I suspect that people are assuming that anything without the right subject line gets automatically discarded; a reasonable assumption in the modern era, but not an accurate one in our case. A submission without the right subject line goes to the wrong mailbox and requires special handling; if you then submit again with a different subject line, the most likely result is that it'll cost me time and energy to make sure I'm tracking everything correctly. It's also possible that we'll get confused and read and respond to your story twice, thereby wasting everyone's time.

One other thing I've been seeing a lot lately: authors who write long cover letters telling us all about themselves, but who neglect to include a wordcount.

In other news, submission volume continues to be about ten to twenty percent higher than last year (and feels even higher than that), and the percentage increase over last year has been increasing each month. I had been assuming volume would drop off after the initial January flood, but it hasn't dropped nearly as much as I expected. It's looking like the first three months of this year will be three of our four highest-volume months ever. Victims of our own success, I guess.

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