SH stats

Here are a whole bunch of statistics and thoughts regarding the magazine, probably a lot more than you want to know.

Submission volume, schedule, and response time:

  • We received 3,037 stories (by 2,026 authors) during the eleven months of 2005 in which we were open to submissions. That's an average of about 275 stories/month (or about 9 stories a day), up from 230/month in 2004; a 20% increase in volume over last year. If we have the same percentage increase in 2006 (and I suspect we will), we'll be seeing about 330 stories a month.
  • The highest-volume day in 2005 was 22 February, with 21 submissions. The highest-volume week was the week of 2 January, with 91 submissions. The highest-volume month (ever) was January 2005, with 342 submissions. The 11 months of 2005 were 11 of the top 13 highest-volume months ever; the only earlier months in that top 13 were January 2003 and January 2004. The only month in 2005 when we had under 250 submissions was July, with 248.
  • Over the whole lifetime of the magazine (since we started taking subs in mid-2000), we've received about 12,340 submissions. (That's an average of about 6 and a half stories per day (counting only days when we've been open to subs), for five and a half years.) From a total of about 5,400 authors. Some of the big sf magazines get 12,000 submissions in a year; I'm very glad we don't have to deal with that kind of volume.
  • We're buying about six months ahead these days; our fiction schedule is almost full through the end of June, 2006. Bear that in mind if you want to send us holiday-themed stories.
  • Stories submitted to us in 2005 had an average wordcount of about 3,650. Original (non-reprint) stories we published in 2005 had an average wordcount of about 4,050. But I hesitate to mention that, because I don't want to encourage people to send us longer stories; we end up having to split longer stories across two weeks, for budget reasons, and we'd rather avoid that whenever possible. It's a source of great joy for us when we find a particularly short story that we love, because not only do we get to publish it, but it lets us also consider longer stories that we otherwise might not be able to afford. (To stave off the inevitable response: we also reject plenty of very short stories; we don't buy a story just 'cause it's short.)
  • Our average response time during 2005 was just over 31 days. Maximum response time was 103 days, but that was a fluke (a story submitted with the wrong subject line, so our autoresponder didn't recognize it as a submission, and I somehow didn't notice it until the author queried about it). Other than that one, our maximum response time was 79 days. Our minimum response time was 12 days. We went over 60 days on about 1.5% of stories, which is a low percentage but still higher than I'd like. Unfortunately, as submission volume goes up, so will response time; we should probably change our "We always respond within 60 days" line to "We always respond within 70 days," since there were only 4 stories that took us over 70 days to respond to this year.

Author gender:

  • Author gender for submissions in 2005: 33% of the stories were by female authors; 59% by male authors; 8% by authors of unknown-to-me gender. (And a few stories by authors who don't neatly fit into any of those categories, he said, trying to balance author privacy against acknowledgment of difference.) So as usual for us, the percentage of submitted stories by female authors is somewhere between 33% and 41%. (And the percentages in this paragraph are each within 1% 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 stories published in 2005: 59% by female authors; 41% by male authors. (The percentages for the first six months of 2006, btw, are 68% by female authors, 32% by male authors. For a while, after our first few acceptances for 2006, that ratio was more like 80% female / 20% male, but the balance naturally shifts over time as the sample space grows larger.)
  • As I noted back in October (and this is still true), out of our most prolific 16 submitters over the lifetime of the magazine, 6 are female; that fraction is roughly equal to the fraction of overall submissions by women, so women are now proportionately represented among our most prolific submitters. See below for more on prolificness.

Authors and sales:

  • Authors who submitted to us in 2005 sent us an average of one and a half stories each.
  • Eighteen authors sent us more than 5 stories each in 2005. Two of those sent us 9 stories each; nobody sent us 10. One author who sent us more than 5 stories sold us 3 of them; another of those authors sold us 1 story; none of the other 16 sold us any. 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. to put it another way, 2 out of 18, or 11%, of authors who sent us more than 5 stories in 2005 sold to us, whereas only 20 out of 1500, barely over 1%, of authors who sent us only one story in 2005 sold to us.
    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, 16 authors have sent us more than 25 stories each. We've published 6 of those authors (2 men, 4 women).
  • Someone pointed out a couple of years ago that there were a bunch of authors who'd sold us two stories but hadn't managed to sell us a third. That wasn't intentional on our parts, but it was an interesting observation. That's shifted a little, but the general idea is still true: we don't tend to buy as many stories from a given author as some of the big-name magazines do. (I suspect there are a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that some of the established pro authors are astonishingly prolific.) Here's a table showing how many original stories we've bought from how many authors over the life of the magazine:
    __ authors have sold us __ story/ies apiece
    113 1
    36 2
    20 3
    3 4
    1 5

3 Responses to “SH stats”

  1. SarahP

    Jed, those are some amazing numbers! Congratulations on finishing your slush read before the holidays!!

  2. Jenn Reese

    What SarahP said! And thanks for sharing all the statistics with us — I find it fascinating. Enjoy your holidays, submission-free!

  3. David Moles

    Hmm. Sounds like I need to sell you three more stories. 🙂


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