Today’s half-baked idea: Submitbot

Another in a series of ideas I've had while half-awake:

As more publishing venues turn toward online submissions, it may become possible for an author to automate their submission process.

Call the software submitbot. In the most automated case, you (the story author) point submitbot at a directory containing word-processor files, and it submits each of them for you. When it detects a rejection letter in your email, it picks another venue for that story and submits it again.

Less-automated (and more plausible) versions would require more input from the story author. For example, each story could be tagged with a genre. (I was going to say "and a wordcount," but really, submitbot ought to be able to count words.) And the story author could provide a list of venues in order of preference. And probably detecting rejection letters in email is unrealistic without a lot of help from the story author.

And there's all sorts of potential for bugs that could harm the story author's reputation, and I imagine most authors don't want to just go away and not think about their stories anyway. (The impetus for this was thinking about the stress writers go through while waiting for responses, but I can imagine this system making that stress worse rather than better.)

Also, there are not very many venues that take electronic submissions at this point. (But I imagine that number will grow over time.) And those that do aren't very standardized in their approaches. So in the end, it might be more work for an author to run submitbot than just to manage their subs the old-fashioned way.

Still, I thought it was a fun idea.

. . . I Googled for [submitbot] to see if anyone else had come up with that name; turns out that it's the name of at least one spamming-software package. (Used, presumably, for submitting comment spam to web forums and blogs and such.) So maybe it's not the best name for the tool I'm describing. On the other hand, the one I'm describing is imaginary, so that probably doesn't really matter.

4 Responses to “Today’s half-baked idea: Submitbot”

  1. jacob

    I’ll bet you could train a Bayesian filter to recognize a rejection letter. There’s a software development management product called FogBugz that, among many other things, will identify incoming emails as sales, tech support, bugs, etc. using a Bayesian filter. The same approach would work here.

    Where it really gets interesting is if a whole bunch of authors all use the bot and share data, and the bot is smart enough to figure out that my story has similar characteristics to Pyotr’s story (again, using Bayesian filters) and Pyotr’s got accepted by Billy Mike’s Science Fiction and Wrassling Magazine, so it should submit mine there also.

  2. Anonymous

    Really, when I saw the title, I thought this was a totally other kind of submitbot. sjb

    • Jed

      Jacob: Nice. Of course, at that point you might as well take the next step and have an editorbot reading the stories and Bayesian-filtering them to decide which ones the readership will like. And from there it’s perhaps not such a stretch to have a writerbot write the stories, and a readerbot read them.

      sjb/Anonymous: Heh. I see drawings of dombots all the time, but now that you mention it I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drawing of a subbot. But I’m sure they’re out there.

  3. Shmuel

    As for the writerbot, Roger Zelazny anticipated that one in “LOKI 7281”. 🙂


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