The First 500 Submissions
Recently, I sent my 500th submission since I’ve been tracking them through Duotrope. It took me roughly eight years to amass this many, though the bulk of them have come in the last four years or so. Anyway, it’s a big milestone, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it and show you what 500 subs looks like, what it gets you, and what it does for you (or maybe to you).
Here’s the basic composition of my 500 submissions.
- Acceptances: What you see here translates to an acceptance rate of just over 14%. Decent, but some lean years early in my submission career and a weird blip in 2017 have kept it lower than I’d like. I’ve managed to get over 15% in the last three years, but I’d really like to push that number up over 20%.
- Rejections: Yep, 400 of them. If you’d like a more detailed look at those 400 rejections, check out this post. Anyway, I’d like fewer rejections–wouldn’t we all–but I’m certainly not ashamed of this number. I’ve learned a lot from these rejections, and that’s translated to more acceptances in recent years.
- Withdrawn: Generally, when I withdraw a story, it’s because the publisher hasn’t responded after a significant amount of time and ignored a submission status query. I don’t like pulling a story for this reason, but sometimes you don’t have much choice.
- Lost/Never Responded: All three of the submissions in this category were to markets that went under while I had stories pending.
- Pending: I currently have 14 stories pending, which is a lot, even for me. Based on my overall acceptance percentage, two of these should result in acceptances. (Yeah, we’ll see.)
Now let’s take a closer look at the composition of the actual stories I’ve submitted.
- Unique Stories: I have subbed 106 unique stories, although I did count stories I subbed as flash and then expanded to short stories as the same story. If you counted flash and short as distinct versions, my total is 112. Is this a lot of stories? Hard to say. I do write a lot, and I also write a lot of flash, which no doubt pumps up my submission numbers. If I was focused purely on short stories, I’d expect my total to be about half of what it is.
- Published: This is my favorite number out of all the stats I’ve listed. I’ve published over half the stories I’ve submitted. Yeah, sure, some of them have taken me a while to sell, and some of that is because my submission targeting is not as good as it could be, but I think selling one out of every two stories I write is pretty solid. The discrepancy between the number of stories published and my number of acceptances is simply due to the eleven stories I’ve sold as reprints.
- Flash Fiction: As I mentioned above, I write a lot of flash, and it represents the bulk of my submissions. Most of this is due to the fact that I participate in a bi-weekly one-hour flash fiction writing contest/exercise, and the vast majority of my flash stories come from that event.
- Microfiction: I started writing microfiction in the last year and a half, mostly as part of the #vss365 hashtag on Twitter. I haven’t submitted much of it, but I’ve published all three of the micros I’ve submitted on the first try. Huh, maybe I should submit more.
- Short Stories: Even though I’ve only subbed 22 short stories, and despite publishing a a bakers dozen, they account for almost half of my 500 submissions. Why is that? Well, my completely unscientific answer is simply that, in my experience, short stories are harder to sell. Even the shorts I’ve sold to pro-paying markets often racked up double digit rejections before the sale. Of course, some of this stems from my difficulties with submission targeting, but I still contend that selling a short story to a good market takes some effort and no few amount of submissions. Or maybe it’s just me. 🙂
And there you have it, 500 submissions. It’s certainly been an eventful journey to get to this point, but all these submission, and all the rejections, acceptances, and feedback that come with them, have definitely made me a better writer. No doubt, by the time I hit 1,000 submissions, I’ll be a bestselling author and a household name. 🙂
Hit any submission milestone of your own lately? Tell me about in the comments.