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Milestone

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This afternoon, we received our 19,000th submission.

Well, okay, there's enough flex in definitions and recordkeeping that that's not an exact number. But it's a reasonable approximation.

A few more than 8300 authors have submitted to us, averaging a little over two stories apiece. (Though I always feel silly calculating that average, because many many authors have sent us only one story, while a few have sent us forty or more over the lifetime of the magazine so far.)

I'll be doing some end-of-year stats sometime next month, so I won't go on about this now. But I'm expecting that we'll get 200 more submissions in the rest of this month, and probably 500 in January, so I'm guessing we'll hit 20,000 in late February or early March.

It looks like the first time I posted a submission milestone entry was back in April of 2002, when we were getting about 185 subs a month. We now get double that volume.

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Have you noticed a change in the quality of the subs? Like is your acceptance rate about the same or has it dropped as the number of subs has gone up?


I've been thinking about related questions for a while, but haven't come to any clear conclusions.

I used to say that the quality distribution was roughly 10% good, 80% okay but nothing special, 10% bad. Somehow that's changed, though: lately, I would say it's more like 10% good, 30% okay but nothing special, and 60% bad.

It seems to me unlikely that the percentages would change that radically. So I suspect it's primarily a change in my perceptions. I give each story less attention than I used to, and I give up and start skimming much more readily than I used to, and I've seen a lot more mediocre stories over the years than I had when I started doing this. But it's also possible that we're getting a somewhat higher percentage of bad stories than we used to get.

Our acceptance rate isn't really a good measure, 'cause it has artificial constraints. For example, we try not to buy more than 6 months ahead, but that number used to be 3-4 months. And we're constrained in various ways by our budget. We still average buying about one week's worth of fiction per week, which keeps our inventory fairly steady, but we can be flexible on that, and sometimes we don't buy anything for several weeks in a row. If by "acceptance rate" you meant percentage of submissions that we buy, then yeah, that's gone down -- we now buy about 1% of the stories we see, where we used to buy about 2%. But the number of stories we buy in a given month is about the same.


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