The 700 Club (No, Not That One)

Recently, I sent my 700th short story submission. That number spans a period of ten years since I started tracking them religiously (hah!) on Duotrope. Whenever I hit a big milestone like this, I like to break down all numbers, get WAY too analytical and then inflict the result on my readers. So, here we go. 🙂

First, here are the basic stats for the 703 submission I’ve sent since April 16, 2012.

  • Acceptances – 97
  • Rejections – 569
  • Non-Responses – 5
  • Withdrawals – 26
  • Pending – 6

I’m closing in on 100 acceptances, which is pretty good. The rejections numbers are about what you’d figure for that many submissions, and my acceptance percentage comes out to just over 17% (not counting non-responses, withdrawals, and pending subs). I can live with that.

Lets get a little more granular and look at the number of markets I’ve submitted to and the number of stories I’ve sent.

  • Total Distinct Markets – 167
  • Total Distinct Stories – 151
  • Most Subbed Market – The Molotov Cocktail (65)
  • Most Subbed Story – Set in Stone (28)

That’s a lot of stories and a lot of publishers. Most of those stories have either been accepted or retired, though there’s still a few crusty old tales making the rounds. I’ve sent a ton of stories to The Molotov Cocktail, but they’ve accepted a ton of stories. They even published my collection of flash fiction Night Walk, which, if you’re so inclined, you can buy here. “Set in Stone” is my number one loser. It’s racked up plenty of close-but-no-cigar rejections but never quite made the cut. It has been put out to pasture now where it can live out the remainder of its days in peace and quiet with the all my other also-rans.

Now let’s dig even further and examine how the numbers reveal the trials and tribulations of being a short fiction writer.

Here are the top five markets I’ve subbed most to where I’ve had at least ONE acceptance.

  • The Molotov Cocktail  – 65 (17)
  • The Arcanist – 50 (16)
  • Flame Tree Press – 23 (4)
  • New Myths – 23 (1)
  • Factor Four Magazine – 18 (2)

Clearly, The Molotov Cocktail and The Arcanist dig my work, and my hit rate is 26% and 32% respectively. Flame Tree Press and Factor Four Magazine are in that 10% to 15% range of pro markets that I’ve actually cracked. I’ve only managed to sell a single piece to New Myths, though I’ve gotten close a couple of other times. I guess I should go back to that one story and see what I did right.

Okay, now the bad news. Here are the top five markets I’ve subbed most to WITHOUT an acceptance. Read ’em and weep.

  • Flash Fiction Online – 34
  • Daily Science Fiction – 24
  • Apex Magazine – 21
  • The Dark Magazine – 17
  • The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – 16

If you write and submit short genre fiction, you’re gonna be familiar with these markets. Of the five, I’ve gotten closest with Flash Fiction Online, making their final round of deliberations three times. I’ve made it out of the slush pile at Apex a handful of times but no further. I’ve received some nice personal rejections from F&SF, but I don’t think I’ve come very close to publication based on Duotrope stats for acceptance response times. I’ve only received form rejections from The Dark and Daily Science Fiction. I’m going to keep trying with all these markets except Daily Science Fiction, as they are, sadly, going on indefinite hiatus. I think I have a good chance of cracking Flash Fiction Online one of these days. The others? Who knows. I’ll just have to keep submitting and find out.

Now lets look at number for individual stories. First, here are my most subbed stories that I eventually sold.

  • Paper Cut – 19
  • The Scars You Keep – 19
  • Caroline – 18
  • The Downer – 17
  • Hell to Pay – Installment Plans Available! – 14

Although “Paper Cut” and “The Scars You Keep” have the same number of submissions, the latter was accepted on its 19th submission and the former on its 16th. I’ve sent “Paper Cut” out as a reprint a few times. The same goes for “Caroline”, which I sold on the 13th attempt and then sold again as a reprint on the 18th. Both “The Downer” and “Hell to Pay Installment Plans Available!” are recent sales, and what you see is the actual number of submissions it took me to sell each piece. One thing I should point out is that all these are short stories in the 3,000 to 5,000 word range, and they all received multiple final-round rejections before I eventually sold them. It always takes me longer (more subs) to sell short stories, whereas I sell flash fiction in the first three to five attempts. I have no idea why. Regardless of how many submissions were needed, I was happy to find a home for these pieces.

And now for the list of luckless losers. Here are the stories with the most submissions WITHOUT an acceptance.

  • Set in Stone – 28
  • After Birth – 13
  • Coffin Shopping – 13
  • When Gods Walk – 12
  • Time Has No Memory – 11

I mentioned “Set in Stone” earlier, but it is the king of not for us’s and we’re gonna pass’s in my list of stories. It and “After Birth” have been retired. The latter was never ready for prime time, and I think the idea is one I no longer want to explore. The other three stories are of more recent vintage, and two of them, “Coffin Shopping” and “Time Has No Memory” are currently out on submission. I’ll submit “When Gods Walk” again at some point when another suitable market appears. Of the five, “Time Has No Memory” is the best, in my opinion, and it’s come close with a number of pro markets. I have a lot of faith in that one, and I think I’ll sell it eventually. Maybe even to the market it’s currently under consideration with. 🙂

Well, that’s a quick look 700 submissions. There’s a lot more data I could dump on you, but I think I’ll refrain for the moment. 🙂

Have you hit any major submission or publishing milestones lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.



One Comment on “The 700 Club (No, Not That One)

  1. Great post. I track my submission stats via Duotrope and Excel (for subs that predate my Duotrope membership and unlisted markets) and my experience is similar. 100 submissions in a year sounds like a monumental task – very impressive.

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