I was startled to learn from a comment posted at the Sci Fiction message boards in March that Ellen receives only about 150 submissions a month. I'm also startled to see in the new SH interview with GVG that F&SF receives about 600 a month. I guess I just figured that all the high-profile prozines got about a thousand a month.

We're still getting a bit over 200 submissions a month. But we can only buy about four stories a month, and Gordon says he buys about eight.

I find it a little odd that Gordon doesn't mention JJA, his slush reader, in that interview's discussion of reading slush. In fact, it seems to me that the prozine editors in general tend to shy away from mentioning their slush readers. I wonder if that's to protect the slush readers' privacy—but at least two slush readers for prozines hang out semi-regularly at the Rumor Mill, under their own names.

10 Responses to “Subs”

  1. Celia

    Yeah, I found that a little odd too, especially as he’d said he’d read his own slush for 4 years, ending in 2000, in part because he didn’t trust, blah blah blah, and I’m like, “and this is where he vows undying affection for JJA?” (or mentions that he’s got one now that does work well or something like that.) And then there wasn’t. I kinda wondered if it had been edited out, or if he’d meant to comment on JJA but just gotten distracted in the process of answering the question and went off on the tangent.

    And of course, according to Asimov’s evil rejection letter, they get 850 submissions a month, and yours sucks just as badly as the rest of them. πŸ˜‰

  2. Jed

    I’ve heard roundaboutly that that 850/month number is a little outdated, that Gardner actually gets more like a thousand a month these days. But I don’t have any real data about that.

    I think I read that SF Age was getting well over a thousand subs a month when it met its untimely demise. And I hear Talebones was getting about 100 a month as of a couple years ago.

    I find the varying levels of submission volume among various markets curious; makes me wonder what the determining factors are. I suspect a lot of it is simply a question of how well-known various publications are among the speculative-fiction-writing public.

  3. Stella

    I think at least part of it is due to ease of submission — in SH’s case, the acceptance of e-subs makes sending things easy.

    And I confess: most of my stuff goes to SH first, because it’s free, it’s quick, and going to the post office is such a hassle for me.

    I think another big factor for submissions is the turnaround time; there are markets that I won’t submit to because friends have had stories there for 400+ (!!) days.

    Then again, it’s nearly 3 am and I could just be talking out of my behind.

  4. Greg van Eekhout

    This is NOT a complaint, but I actually don’t find submitting to SH all that much easier than snail mail subs. When I submit to, say, F&SF, there’s some licking involved, but I don’t have to format the manuscript specifically for F&SF. With SH, I have to go through a step-by-step checklist to make sure I’m doing everything right.

    It’s a very clear, well-written checklist (you can tell Jed’s used to writing documentation), but still.

    Again, not a complaint. It’s just that I keep reading people expressing a preference for electronic submission, while I find it really doesn’t save me much time and trouble.

    As always, YMMV.

  5. Jed

    Sooner or later, I still intend to set things up so people can submit RTF files to us. I think I have the code to convert RTF to text now, I just need to take the time to figure out how to use it.

    In the meantime, if you use MS Word, you might take a look at my save-as-text macro. Not officially supported by the magazine (we don’t take responsibility if it wipes out your file, which is why you should make a backup before using it), but I think several writers have used and liked it.

  6. Tempest

    No love for JJA, how sad πŸ™

    In terms of submissions, I think that there are many and varied reasons for low or high submission rates. Some people are discouraged or intimidated, thus keeping them from subbing to a particular mag. Some just don’t know about some markets. Frex, I would assume that many people who read the small pulp mags aren’t involved in the SF writing community as much – i.e. on the RM or whatever. They are readers, maybe fans, who get it in them to write. So they send it to their favorite magazine. It may be less so for online or new or less well distributed magazines. It also may be savvy on the part of submitters. SciFiction wants very specific types of stories, and they seem to have a predisposition to established writers rather than new ones. (This may or may not be true) So if I only write fairy tale fantasy, and i’ve never been published in a pro mag, I would hesitate to sub to them. Same for other markets for other reasons.

    I’m rambling….

  7. Jed

    I’m surprised that you say “SciFiction wants very specific types of stories”—it seems to me as broad in scope as any other speculative fiction magazine, and broader than some. The guidelines just say:

    “SCIFICTION is looking for literate, strongly plotted science fiction and fantasy stories between 2,000 and 17,500 words–on a variety of subjects and themes. We want to intrigue our readers with mind-broadening, thought-provoking stories. Characterization is crucial. Stories must be written in clear, understandable prose.”

    And though fairy-tale fantasy certainly isn’t the primary focus of the magazine, I know Ellen likes fairy tales. And I would guess (though I certainly haven’t counted) that her percentage of stories-by-new-authors isn’t significantly lower than that of, say, Asimov’s. But I could be wrong.

  8. Celia

    You are in luck, seeing as I have counted. πŸ™‚ Let me find my numbers. Flat figures are three new authors from Asimovs, 2 from, I’m trying to find the break down I did that has percent of total stories. okay.

    Asimov printed 142 stories, 97 authors. printed 71 stories, 53 authors. Which means one in 47 stories from Asimovs were from a new author, and one in 32 authors were new. SF’s numbers were 1:36 and 1:27 respectively. (for comparison’s sake, the number for SH are 111 stories, 80 authors, and 38 new authors. So your ratios are 1:3 stories and 1:2 authors)

    So really, her numbers are actually even better than asimov’s, especially as these were the numbers for 2001 and 2002, and there’s been at least one new sale that I know of since this year started.

    Of course, this is just brand spanking new authors, not neopros, which maybe different.

  9. Tempest

    I knew Celia would come through witht he numbers. As to my statement about the types of stories SciFiction wants, I don’t mean to say they are necessarily narrow, but just that from what I’ve read (admittedly, not a whole lot) I can sort of see what kinds of things Ellen fancies. If it’s an SF or fantasy or whatever, there are certain key things I see popping up that make it a SciFiction story, Just like with SH, or Fortean or wherever. And when you discover that thing, be it some really specific thing (only dog stories), or sort of a fluid but discernable thing, then it’s easier to tell if your story might stand any kind of chance there.

    Sure, Ellen like fairy tale stuff, but she’s also said that the publishers don’t want her to buy a lot of fantasy (on that panel at WorldCon last year. You were on it, I think. That’s where we met.) So the amount of fantasy she buys is going to be limited, and thus she’ll be even more selective than she already is (which is pretty damned selective πŸ˜‰ about fantasy. I haven’t sent her any in a long time.

    This goes back to that dscussion of why writers do or don’t send stories to markets. Some of us just throw pasta at the wall, every wall, and hope something sticks. others of us are poor and can’t afford to send out 14,000 word manuscripts just anywhere, so we have to really think about if a story matches a market well and such.

  10. Greg van Eekhout

    Thanks for the MS-Word tip, Jed. I’ll try that next time I send you guys something.


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