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Annual SH stats entry

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This is my 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 3,655 stories (by 2,598 authors) during the ten months of 2007 in which we were open to submissions. That's an average of nearly 370 stories/month (or about 12 stories a day), up from 290/month in 2006; a 26% increase in volume over last year. Several people have suggested that this indicates that we're really popular (especially given that Asimov's gets about 300-500 subs a month these days); however, given that volume suddenly went way up in June of 2006 after we made the RTF submission form the preferred submission method, I'm pretty sure that it's not a matter of popularity, but rather of ease of submission. We made it really easy to submit, and so many many more people are now submitting to us.
  • Authors who submitted to us in 2007 sent us an average of nearly one and a half stories each this year, about the same as last year.
  • The highest-volume day in 2007 was 2 January, with 40 submissions (last year the highest-volume day had 24 submissions). The highest-volume week was the week of 1 January, with 161 submissions (up from 121 in the first week of January in 2006). The highest-volume month was January 2007, with 492 submissions (up 45% from 340 in January 2006). The lowest-volume months were February and September, with 324 submissions. Note that the lowest-volume months in 2007 had almost as many subs as the highest-volume month in 2006.
  • Over the whole lifetime of the magazine (since we started taking subs in mid-2000), we've received about 19,220 submissions (we'll hit 20,000 in February of 2008, most likely). That's an average of about 7 and a half stories per day (counting only days when we've been open to subs), for 7 and a half years. From a total of about 8,430 authors. (Over that whole time, authors have thus averaged about 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 five months ahead these days; our fiction schedule is almost full through the end of May, 2008. Bear that in mind if you want to send us holiday-themed stories.
  • Stories submitted to us in 2007 had an average wordcount of a bit over 3,900. (Which means we received over 14 million words of fiction this year.) Original (non-reprint) stories we published in 2007 had an average wordcount of about 3,710. (Significantly lower than last year, due to a variety of factors.) It's a little misleading for me to juxtapose those numbers, though, because about half the stories we published this year we bought last year.
  • Our average response time during 2007 was a little over 33 days, about the same as 2006. (I'd like it to be much lower, but it's pretty cool that it didn't go up from last year, given how much our submission volume went up.) Maximum response time was 90 days. Minimum response time was 12 days. We went over our 70-day limit on only 14 stories; a very low rate (only 0.4% of the stories submitted), but still higher than I'd like, and slightly higher than last year. Still, we continue to request that authors query us immediately if they haven't heard from us 70 days after submitting.

Here are some notes about author gender. Since some people were confused by my stats post last year, I will explicitly note here that I'm attaching no value judgment to the following stats; in particular, I'm not saying that I or we are proud of any of the following. I plan to write up a detailed discussion of the author-gender issue soon; please don't make any assumptions from the following stats about how I or we feel about them. If someone else claims that we feel a certain way about them, don't listen.

  • Author gender for submissions in 2007: 31-39% of the stories were by female authors; 61-69% by male authors; the ranges are because nearly 9% were by authors of unknown-to-me gender. (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 2007 (remember that many of these were purchased in 2006): 73% by female authors; 27% by male authors. Over the whole lifetime of the magazine, 46% of our stories have been by male authors.
  • Out of our most prolific 25 submitters over the lifetime of the magazine (everyone who's sent us more than 25 stories), 8 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, though all of them have reduced their submission rate to us in the past couple years, and a woman is about to enter that group.) See below for more on prolificness.

Authors and sales:

  • Nineteen authors sent us more than 5 stories each in 2007. (Fewer authors than last year, presumably because we were closed for a month longer this year.) Two of those sent us 9 stories; two sent us 10 (which is remarkable given that nobody managed to send us 10 last year, even with an extra month in which to do it); nobody sent us 11 (not surprising, given our average response time). (Of those four most prolific authors this year, two are male and two female.) Sadly, none of those 19 authors sold us any stories. To repeat 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, 25 authors have sent us more than 25 stories each: 17 men, 8 women (as noted above). We've published 12 of those authors: 6 men, 6 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. We've bought a total of 352 stories from a total of 218 authors. As always, a 12-part serial counts as a single story.
    __ authors have sold us __ story/ies apiece
    139 1
    42 2
    24 3
    11 4
    1 5
    1 8
  • We bought original stories this year from a total of 36 authors, including 17 authors who hadn't previously sold to us. For 8 of those 17, the story we bought was the first story they'd ever sent us. Of the other 9, 5 had been submitting (mostly intermittently) for more than 2 years without selling to us; one of those had been submitting to us since 2002.
  • We also, of course, bought stories from 19 authors who had previously sold to us (I think this is the first year that sales by authors we've previously bought from outnumbered sales by authors we hadn't previously bought from); for 12 of those, we hadn't bought a story from them since 2005 or earlier. However, most of those 19 haven't been submitting to us very much. There was one of those authors who we hadn't bought a story from since 2001, but that's misleading because that author hadn't sent us anything else since 2001. On the other hand, there was another who we hadn't bought a story from since 2003, and that author had sent us 9 stories that we didn't buy since their previous sale. So even though I can't claim that perseverance always furthers, it certainly does sometimes.

Note again that roughly half the stories purchased in a given year are published in the following year, so you can't directly compare numbers between publication stats and submission/purchasing stats. Sorry about that.

1 Comment

I'm guessing Leah Bobet for the 8 stories and Jay Lake for the 5, but I'm not sure about the 11-way tie for third: Amanda Downum, Elizabeth Bear, M. K. Hobson, Benjamin Rosenbaum...

Thanks for posting this annual insight into the magazine.

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