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Annual SH stats entry

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This is my now-annual stats post: a whole bunch of statistics and thoughts regarding the Strange Horizons fiction department. (If you want to compare over time, see last year's stats.) Nothing here has anything to do with any other SH department; it's only for fiction.

Submission volume, schedule, and response time:

  • We received 3,225 stories (by 2,302 authors) during the eleven months of 2006 in which we were open to submissions. That's an average of about 290 stories/month (or about 9 and a half stories a day), up from 275/month in 2005; a 7% increase in volume over last year. I'm glad we didn't see the 20% increase in subs that I predicted a year ago. (In fact, for the first half of 2006, volume each month was almost identical to the corresponding month's volume in 2005. But volume went way up after we made the RTF submission form the preferred submission method.)
  • Authors who submitted to us in 2006 sent us an average of about one and a half stories each this year.
  • The highest-volume day in 2006 was 3 January, with 24 submissions. The highest-volume week was the week of 1 January, with 121 submissions. The highest-volume month was January 2006, with 340 submissions (just under the January 2005 record of 342). The lowest-volume month was May, with 251 submissions.
  • Over the whole lifetime of the magazine (since we started taking subs in mid-2000), we've received about 15,570 submissions. (That's an average of about 7 stories per day (counting only days when we've been open to subs), for six and a half years.) From a total of about 6,840 authors. (Over that whole time, authors have averaged 2 and a quarter stories apiece; there are a lot of authors who've only ever sent us one story.) So roughly a third of all the authors who've ever submitted to us submitted to us this year (though many of them, of course, had also submitted in previous years). I should note that these numbers count only the stories that make it into our database; most of the badly formatted subs and unsolicited revisions and multiple subs and simsubs (that the author tells us about upfront) and such don't make it into the database at all. (Though a few do, by accident.)
  • We're buying about six to seven months ahead these days; our fiction schedule is almost full through the end of July, 2006. Bear that in mind if you want to send us holiday-themed stories.
  • Stories submitted to us in 2006 had an average wordcount of a bit over 3,700. (Which means we received over 12 million words of fiction this year.) Original (non-reprint) stories we published in 2006 had an average wordcount of about 3,850. (Significantly lower than last year, due to a variety of factors.) It's a little misleading for me to juxtapose those numbers, though, because half the stories we published this year we bought last year.
  • Our average response time during 2006 was just over 33 days, up slightly from 2005. (But in the second half of 2006, our average was a little over 36 days.) Maximum response time was 88 days. Our minimum response time was 12 days. We went over our 70-day limit on only 9 stories; a very low number (only 0.3% of the stories submitted), but still higher than I'd like.

Author gender:

  • Author gender for submissions in 2006: 33% of the stories were by female authors; 58% by male authors; 9% by authors of unknown-to-me gender. So as usual for us, the percentage of submitted stories by female authors is somewhere between 33% and 42%. (And the percentages in this paragraph are each within 2 points of the corresponding percentages for the whole lifetime of the magazine; those percentages have stayed very steady since I started tracking them.)
  • Author gender for original stories published in 2006: 67% by female authors; 33% by male authors. (The percentages for the first six months or so of 2007 are 73% by female authors, 27% by male authors. Still, over the whole lifetime of the magazine, 47% of our stories have been by male authors.)
  • Out of our most prolific 21 submitters over the lifetime of the magazine (everyone who's sent us more than 25 stories), 7 are female; that fraction is about the same as the fraction of overall submissions by women, so women continue to be roughly proportionately represented among our most prolific submitters. (Though the sample size is so small that a slight change in parameters changes the numbers. For example, all of the five most prolific submitters are male.) See below for more on prolificness.

Authors and sales:

  • Twenty-five authors sent us more than 5 stories each in 2006. One of those sent us 9 stories; nobody sent us 10. (Not surprising, given our average response time.) One author who sent us more than 5 stories sold us 2 of them; none of the other 24 sold us any. To repeat a variant on the disclaimer from last year: that may sound at first like there's a negative correlation between prolificness and sales, but:
    1. the number of stories an author can send us in a year is limited by how long we take to respond, and we often take longer to accept a story than to reject it; and
    2. plenty of those prolific authors' stories that we rejected were good, just not right for us for one reason or another; and
    3. the sample space is too small for this to be a really useful stat;
    4. and, of course, it's silly to pay attention to this kind of statistic anyway; your chances of selling to us have everything to do with how much we like the stories you send us, and nothing to do with how many you send us.
  • Looking at all submissions since mid-2000, 21 authors have sent us more than 25 stories each: 14 men, 7 women (as noted above). We've published 10 of those authors: 5 men, 5 women.
  • We still don't tend to buy as many stories from a given author as some of the big-name magazines do. Here's a table showing how many original stories we've bought from how many authors over the life of the magazine. If you add up the numbers in the first column, it becomes apparent that we've just bought a story from our 201st author.
    __ authors have sold us __ story/ies apiece
    129 1
    42 2
    23 3
    5 4
    2 5
  • We bought original stories this year from a total of 45 authors, including 27 authors who hadn't previously sold to us. For 13 of those 27, the story we bought was the first story they'd ever sent us. Of the other 14, 7 had been submitting for more than 3 years without selling to us; one of those had been submitting to us since 2000.
  • We also, of course, bought stories from 18 authors who had previously sold to us; for 13 of those, we hadn't bought a story from them since 2004 or earlier. There was one of those authors who we hadn't bought a story from since 2000. So even though I can't claim that perseverance always furthers, it certainly does sometimes. ...Note that these last two items are talking about stories bought this year, not stories published this year; I probably didn't make that sort of distinction (between year of submission/purchase and year of publication) clearly enough on this page (so a bunch of stats that may look comparable aren't really). Sorry about that.

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