Submission trends

A couple weeks ago, we had a surprisingly long run of almost entirely stories by authors who hadn't sent us anything before. At a rough guess (I keep meaning to figure out an SQL query that'll give me more accurate numbers), about 20% of the stories that come in most weeks are from authors who've never submitted to us before, but it was running pretty near 100% for a few days there.

The latest trend is authors who have submitted to us before, but not in the past one to two years. Quite a few subs in the past week from authors whose last submission was back in '01.

Which shouldn't surprise me; I myself tend to send out stories only every couple of years. But I get used to y'all who send a new story as soon as we respond to the previous one, or at least within a month or two.

Oh, I should mention that we've been having some email problems. The problem a couple weeks ago with Pair getting mistakenly blacklisted by the ORDB turns out to have had wider-reaching effects than I'd thought; in particular, my mail to at least some addresses (and perhaps all) turns out to have been bouncing silently for the past week and a half. Some of it should now have gotten through, but if you have an address and have been waiting for something from me, drop me a note. Fwiw, we've now replied to all stories submitted before 5/18/03.

15 Responses to “Submission trends”

  1. Steve Nagy


    I’ve seen similar patterns over at MarsDust. There’s a group of writers who sub new material as soon as I reply to the previous piece. There are one or two I haven’t seen in a while that just recently sent something for consideration, and I could only assume they follow my own submission track record, where it really depends on the story and whether you feel it fits a particular market.

    However, we’re so new over here that I don’t believe I’ve established a fiction identity that writers could follow yet, and the publisher isn’t looking for a particular niche either.

  2. Jay Lake

    Steve —

    You raise an interesting point. Within very broad limits, I don’t try to “focus” my submissions. ie, I don’t send stories with angels in them to ANALOG, but that’s about as fine as I resolve it. My thinking, both as a writer and an editor, is that a good story is a good story, and I’ll never know for sure what appeals to a given editor. Viz. BLACK GATE recently buying a gonzo SF generation ship story from me, which is way outside John’s stated editorial remit, but he liked the story enough to buy it anyway.

    Another way to put that is that the writer is the worst judge of their own work, so let the editor decide. It’s certainly been true of me.

    So for my part, my submission cycle is primarily related to my productivity cycle, and when I added a market to my rotation. SH has been on my rotation for a couple of years, MARS DUST just joined it.


  3. Jed

    An interesting point that I think someone brought up at a WisCon panel: apparently women are often more likely than men to submit stories only when they’re certain the story is a perfect match for the market, whereas male authors are often more likely to be willing to submit anything to anywhere. There are obviously exceptions to this idea, but I thought it was an interesting one.

  4. Jay

    There’s some very obvious stereotypes that could be applied to that statement, Jed. I must say I’ve observed an analogous phenomenon throughout my working life.

    As I said before, “a perfect match for the market” is a pretty dangerous concept.


  5. Beth

    Jay: I use pretty much the same approach as you when I submit stories. The only time I thought “this seems like a good match” was when I sent my “Poison” story to SH.

    Beth (concentrating on novels and not shorts these days)

  6. Celia

    Usually I just sub stories wherever’s open and not completely wrong, you know, like sending Zombie Unicorn stories to SH or something silly like that. I have thought, “Oh, this is perfect for X” before and been wrong, but then again, I wrote Wounds specifically for Polypony, and was actually right. 🙂

  7. Jay Lake

    I hear those POLYPHONY editors only read submissions when they’re drunk…

  8. Celia

    How does one get a sub drunk?

  9. Hannah

    First you have to liquify it.

  10. Jay Lake

    One drowns them in a spot of malmsy wine.

  11. Tempest

    You people….

    I only don’t send a story to a certain market because I feel that it’s not something they would ever publish. Like, I’m really sure Analog doesn’t want my Zombie Unicorns. Plus, I don’t want to waste my postage on an unlikely market. Unless it’s email submissions… then you get everything on my disk.

  12. Vera

    I am exactly as Jed says — I only submit a story to a market when I think it’s a perfect match. And only after the piece has been to every “perfect match” market do I try other less on-target ones. Sure, I may be missing out, but postage ain’t cheap, and not every place takes e-mail subs yet.

  13. Jenn Reese

    I’m with Vera, as I mentioned in Jed’s comments last time this topic came up. But, as I was thoroughly harangued at WisCon, I’m trying to break myself of the habit. From now on, I’ll start with the top markets and work my way down, regardless of my personal feelings for the story. (Did that sound like a mantra? It was.)

  14. Jay Lake

    Within the reasonable limits of pay rate and your desire to be seen in a market, I don’t think you can oversubmit. Follow the guidelines (usually) and keep ’em in the mail. And remember, a good story always trumps guidelines.


  15. Hannah

    I guess my feeling is, if I waited until I knew I had the perfect story for a market, I’d never submit anything.


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