100 Submissions Per Year: Why I Do It
Posted on June 11, 2021
by Aeryn Rudel
I’m a goal-oriented person, and I like to set fairly difficult goals for myself. One of those goals is 100 short story submissions per year, which I’ve been aiming at it for the last five years straight. Let me tell you a little about why I set this challenge for myself and its benefits and potential drawbacks. Like any goal, this one is not one-size-fits-all, but it works for me, and maybe it’ll works for you too. 😉
First, the numbers. You’ll need to send roughly 8 submissions per month to hit 100 in a year. I generally find it easier to approach this challenge on a monthly basis, but you could take it week by week as well. There, you’d be looking at 2 submissions per week. Depending on how much you write and, more importantly, what length of fiction, these numbers may seem entirely doable or utterly impossible. Since my submissions are roughly 75 percent flash, this falls squarely into the difficult but doable category for me.
So what does 100 submissions do for me? Three things.
- Keeps me writing. In order to hit 100 submissions, I have to have a lot of stories to submit. This is especially true since I don’t send a lot of simultaneous submissions. So I’m constantly writing to keep up with my submission goals. As I mentioned, I write tons of flash fiction, which helps me produce a lot. That said, my short stories take me a little longer to sell, and make up a fair number of my overall submissions in a year.
- More acceptances. The more you write, the more you’ll submit, and the more you’ll end up publishing. My acceptance percentage is somewhere between 15 and 20 percent (depending on the year). So, if I send 50 submissions, I should end up publishing between 7 and 10 stories. If I send 100 subs, then it should be between 15 and 20. That follows, at least for me, and my two biggest acceptance years are also my two biggest submission years. As I’ve said many times before, I could dial in my submission targeting a bit and potentially increase those numbers, but I still hold to the idea that more subs equals more publications.
- Experience. A tertiary reason to be sure, but I have learned a lot about writing, publishing, and submitting simply because I do it so much. The engine driving that experience is the 100 submission goal. I’ve seen just about every kind of response you can get from a publisher and my breadth of submission knowledge is wide and varied. This knowledge allows me to better strategize my own submissions and confidently give advice to others (like I’m doing right now).
This is not to sat there are no drawbacks to 100 submissions per year. There are, and let me tell you about them.
- Lots of rejections. Even in my best years, where I’ve managed a lot of acceptances, the number of rejections I received is pretty staggering. For example, if I’m getting a 15 percent acceptance rate, then I can expect at least 85 rejections in a year where I send 100 submissions. That means there are going to be long rejection streaks, days where I receive two, three, or more rejection at once, and all kinds of disappointing almosts and close-but-no-cigars. That’s not to say you can’t learn something from all that rejection, but, yeah, it can be disheartening.
- Haphazard submissions. The 100-submission goal is motivating, and it keeps me writing and submitting, but as a goal-driven person, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. The goal is not simply to submit. It’s to write and submit good work to the right publishers. Sometimes, especially if I’m falling behind on my goal, I can bee tempted to submit stories that maybe aren’t ready. I’ve done less of this of late, but looking back at previous years, there were definitely some stories sent out before they were ripe just so I could keep my numbers up.
To sum up, the 100-submission goal works for me, and though there are a few drawbacks, it’s definitely a net positive. Now, I’ve only managed to actually hit 100 submissions once, but I find the goal itself usually gets me into the 70s or 80s at a minimum, and that’s pretty good production. This year, I’m doing well, and on pace to hit my goal. We’ll see if I can keep that up.
Do you have a submission goal that keeps you motivated? I’d love to heat about it in the comments.
As you know, I’ve adopted your 100 sub goal as well. I managed to surpass it the first two years but fell short at 91 subs last year. I’m sitting at 51 subs this year, so right on pace.
I also think it’s a great motivator, and the corresponding number of rejections helped to get over the fear and most of the sting of those early on.
That’s a good point. The huge number of rejections you’ll receive, even in a good year, does thicken your hide a bit. A useful trait for any writer. 🙂