Futures: A Point of Honor

I have a new story out today called A Point of Honor published as a chapbook by Radix Media as part of their Futures series. It’s a near-future sci-fi piece I’m pretty excited about, and you can check it out (and purchase it if you’re so inclined) right here.

The United States has instituted archaic dueling codes overseen by a government agency called the Bureau of Honorable Affairs. Victims of slander and libel, among other crimes, can force their tormentors to face them in state-sanctioned combat. Jacob Mayweather is challenged to a duel by a man he has never met. The accusation is for a considerable crime, and Jacob must choose whether he will fight or be blacklisted as a duel dodger.

Here’s a little background on the story (no spoilers), mostly because unlike a lot of what I write I have clear memory of where this idea came from. I was reading book called The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch by Jonathan Gottschall (highly recommended) which is about “an English professor who trains in the sport of mixed martial arts and explores the science and history behind the violence of men” when the idea came to me. In his book, Jonathan Gottschall discusses the history of dueling and the the social ramifications around it.

One aspect of dueling that really stuck with me was that refusing a duel was sometimes considered worse than the possibility of dying in one because of the effect it could have on a person’s social standing. They might be labeled a coward and whatever accusation they levied against the challenger would be viewed as false simply because they chose not to fight. That whole concept of the social structure around a duel fascinated me, and I wondered what that might look like in the modern (or near future) world. What slights and insults (and through which mediums) might push people in a world driven by technology to seek a duel to the death to restore their social standing? How would the government handle or sanction it? What consequences would there be for refusing a duel in the digital age? And, of course, who might seek to profit on such a thing. 

This nifty in-world poster that Radix Media created for the chapbook gives a little more insight into the story.


So, head on over to Radix Media and check out A Point of Honor, and while you’re there check out the other books in the Futures series (below).

2019 Acceptance Rate Check-In

With 2019 three quarters of the way through, let’s see how I’m doing with regards to submissions and rate of acceptance. In this post I’m gonna run the numbers for the year to date and compare it with the numbers for all the years I’ve tracked my submissions through Duotrope. Before I get to the numbers, let me first tell you about my methodology. The acceptance rate is calculated with the following formula: total acceptances/(total submissions – pending subs and withdrawals). Obviously, the pending subs only applies to the current year. Additionally, these numbers only count short stories I’ve sent to various genre markets and contests. It does not count any of my contract work for Privateer Press or when I’m invited to submit a story to a market or basically anything that more or less guarantees publication.

Note, 2019 looks a little weird, mostly because of how Dutrope tracks certain things (and because a few of my submission went to publishers not in their database). In other words, the 2019 numbers are very close, but not perfect (though we’re talking fractions of a percentage when it comes to acceptance rates). When I do my end-of-year calculations, I’ll sit down and figure out where the discrepancies are and publish a final, correct 2019 accounting.

Okay, with all that out of the way, here’s eight years of submissions:

Year Subs Reject L/N/W Accept Acc %
2012 6 5 1 0 0%
2013 16 14 2 0 0%
2014 38 29 4 5 15%
2015 46 37 2 7 16%
2016 53 43 2 8 16%
2017 73 64 4 5 7%
2018 120 100 4 19 16%
2019* 55 42 0 11 22%
Total 407 334 19 55 14%

*year to date

I always aim for a 10% acceptance rate. If I get above that, awesome. If I dip below it, as I did in 2017, then I am a sad writer. Luckily, it looks like 2017 was more anomaly than trend and things got back on track in 2018 and look pretty solid for 2019. Full disclosure here. Three of the acceptances for 2019 were part of a #vss365 Twitter anthology, and they were not submitted in the usual sense. They were chosen from microfiction I’d posted on Twitter during the “submission window.” If you remove those three acceptances, then my acceptance percentage for 2019 is 16% (which seems to be about my average).

That 15 to 20 percent mark seems to be where I live for the most part, and I’m okay with that. Of course, I’d like to crack more professional markets, as more than half of my publications in the last three years or so have been at least semi-pro (though a bit more token this year). Not that I’m complaining, mind you, just that I’d love to see my name in certain publications. I’m sure most of you can guess which ones. 😉

In short, 2019 is going okay. I’d like to have submitted more, and though I’m still hoping to hit 100 submissions, at this rate I’ll be closer to 80. That’s not terrible, of course, and if I can keep up the submission rate, maybe I’ll get close to 2018’s acceptance numbers.


How’s your 2019 submissions going so far? Tell me about it in the comments.

Get Your Hooks In: Even More Fun With First Lines

For a while now I’ve been revisiting my published stories specifically to look at the first line and determine if it’s the kind of line that immediately hooks the reader. Once again, this is because of an essay by Stephen King called “Great Hookers I Have Known” from his collection Secret Windows. It’s a great little piece where King looks at the first lines from his novels to see if they qualify as “hookers.” That’s apparently old publisher slang for a first lines that grab a reader’s attention.

So let’s look at some of my recently published stories and see if I’m getting better, worse, or just treading water with my first lines. I’ll give you a link to the story if it’s free to read online, then the first line, and an excuse, er, I mean an explanation of why it’s a good or not so good.

1. “The Thing That Came With the Storm” published by The Molotov Cocktail

I’ve burned all the furniture and every scrap of paper in the house.

Pretty good. Like a lot of interesting first lines, I think it gets the reader asking questions. In this case, that question is why is he doing that? That’s the kind of thing that usually keeps a reader reading. Grade: B+

2. “Big Problems” published by Jersey Devil Press

Gorrus crawled on his hands and knees, squeezing through the narrow halls of his house.

Meh. This is one that gets a whole lot better when paired with the second sentence. His bedroom was the only room that could accommodate a giant’s frame because he’d knocked down the walls of the adjoining rooms. There’s an argument to be made, of course, that you should focus on the first paragraph as a hook, and this is one that probably supports that argument. Grade: C+ (B with second line)

3. “Paint Eater” published by The Arcanist

Ajay tossed the empty can of black Krylon on the ground and stepped back.

Yeah, bleh. I have a good paragraph to open this story, but this first sentence is kinda boring. The black Krylon is, I guess, mildly interesting just because you don’t read those words together very often and it tells you something about the story. Still, not awesome.  Grade: C-

4. “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” published by New Myths

Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Grace smiled, hoping the stuffy looking British archaeologist had a sense of humor.

Not terrible (a little cliche maybe). This one gives you a little character note from the get-go, but it’s not exactly knock-your-socks-off. British archaeologist gives a hint at what the story might be about, but I’d say this one is just okay. Grade: B-

5. “Old as the Trees” published by Ellipsis Zine

Simon stood next to an ocean of waist-high weeds, their thin yellow stalks so densely packed you’d have to walk on top of them rather than through them.

I like this one. There’s some good imagery here, but it doesn’t tell you a whole lot. This is a horror story, and if I’d been able to inject something ominous into this first line it would really sing. As it is, it’s not bad, but not great. Grade: B

6. “Time Waits for One Man” published by Factor Four Magazine

Okay, so you’re immortal?” Nadine set her iPhone on the table and pressed record.

Here we go. This is a good one. I love starting a story with dialog when I can, and I think it works here. The question “Okay, so you’re immortal?” is pretty interesting, I think, and I believe most folks would want to keep reading (the whole point of a good first line). Grade: A

7. “Beyond the Block” published by Tales from the Magician’s Skull

My cell is not far from the executioner’s square, and the headsman is already at work.

Another solid first line. This one tells you a lot in a short space. You immediately know the narrator is in some kind of trouble and there’s the threat he’ll get his head chopped off. That’s pretty good. It’s not the best of the bunch, but well above average. Grade: A-


As usual, these grades are super subjective, and your mileage may vary. A lot. Ultimately, all these stories were published, and the question, as always, is did the first line help or hurt the story’s chances? This is not scientific or anything, but I will say the stories in this batch with better first lines were rejected fewer times or even sold on their first attempt. There are, of course, other factors at play. I’ve sold to a number of these markets more than once or even a lot, so the editor might give me the benefit of the doubt and read past a boring first line (bless them). Or, it’s entirely possible that some editors don’t really care about the first line and read every story start to finish and judge it in its entirety (also, bless them). Who knows? But it remains a fun little exercise. 🙂

Thoughts on first lines? Tell me about it in the comments and/or share some of yours.

Submissions: A Pair of Never Have I Evers

With over four hundred submissions you might think I’ve seen just about everything when it comes to editorial responses. I’ve certainly seen a lot, but there are a couple of anomalies in my submission record that stick out. Let’s talk about them.

1) Never have I ever received a revision request.

Yep, not once. I think I’ve received just about every other kind of response you can get from a publisher, but the revision request eludes me. I know authors who receive tons of them, to the point where it’s almost commonplace. So why not me? Here are two possible reasons.

  • The market. Some publishers just don’t send them. It’s either a yes or a no because they don’t have the time to work with an author to develop a maybe. This is certainly anecdotal, but the authors I know who receive revision requests on the regular write more lit-fic, so maybe it’s more common in that circle.
  • I’m a true outcome writer. Borrowing a term from baseball, a true outcome player is one who often generates one of three outcomes in an at bat: a home run, a walk, or a strikeout. So far, I tend to be that kind of writer. I either get an acceptance (a home run), a form rejection (a strike out), or a personal rejection (a, uh, walk, I guess). I’m not sure how much of that is what I write and how much is where I submit, probably a bit of both. It’s possible I’m a true outcome writer because my submission targeting needs work. That’s always worth reexamining.

2) Never have I ever received a rude rejection.

I hear tales of rude or mean-spirited rejections a lot, but I’ve never been on the receiving end of one. Unlike the first anomaly, I’m, uh, okay with that. I’ve received feedback I thought was wildly off base, but it wasn’t rude, just wrong for the story I wanted to tell. So, why haven’t I got one of these literary kicks to the teeth?

  • I’m just lucky. Totally plausible. Maybe, I’ve just managed to avoid the editors that send rude rejections, or I’ve managed not to do anything that would bring their ire down on my head.  *Knocks on wood.*
  • They’re pretty rare. When I do see an author talking about a rude rejection on social media it invariably gets a whole bunch of clicks, shares, and retweets. It’s the kind of salacious tidbit folks love to read and talk about. So, when it does happen, I think it gets magnified, and that might make it seem more common than it actually is. (My personal opinion is that rude rejections are rare as hen’s teeth, but see my last point.)
  • Rude is subjective. Sometimes, when I see an author talking about a rude rejection, it turns out to be what I’d consider a pretty standard form rejection. Yeah, these things can be short and to the point, and if you’re feeling salty about the rejection, it might come across as terse or dismissive. In other words, one author’s rude is another author’s shrug and move on. I’m not saying rude rejections don’t exist–I’ve seen conclusive evidence they do–but I think it’s best to get a little distance before using any rejectomancy to divine a rejection’s intent, good or bad.

Got anything to add to my submission anomalies? Or maybe you have some of your own. Tell me about them in the comments.

A Month of Microfiction: March 2019

In late February I started writing daily Twitter microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag (that’s very short stories). I’ve had a real blast writing these things, and the prompts have been fun and challenging. I’ve been a flash fiction writer for a long time, but I’d never attempted micro because, frankly, I was intimidated by the tiny word counts. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to dive in because micro is an excellent exercise in stripping an idea down to the frame so it still makse sense with the bare minimum of words. I think that’s a great skill for any writer to work on.

Anyway, I thought I’d round up my month’s work and put it on the blog. You’ll notice a hashtagged word in each of these stories–it’s just the prompt word we had to use for that day. As for quality, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I think there are some real gems in here, some pretty good ones, and a fair amount of, well, kinda mediocre ones. If you’d like to read my microfiction in real time, just follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Oh, and on some days I wrote two micros. The first of the two is the one I actually published.


March, 1st 2019

You can’t #escape the past. You can run, sure, but your old life? It’ll catch up, eventually, with names, faces, bodies. When it finds you, it doesn’t give a shit you’ve turned over a new leaf. And when the past speaks, it sounds a lot like a gun cocking in your ear.

March, 2nd 2019

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking.

He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face. “You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can #listen.”

March, 3rd 2019

I wake next to the ceiling, sigh, and struggle to #orient myself. These out of body experiences are becoming more frequent. I stare down at my body: gray, joints twisted, heart a thready echo of youth long past. I think the old pile of meat is trying to tell me something.

March, 4th 2019

The apocalypse taught me to #improvise, to use brains and instincts I never knew I had. Every tin can is a way to collect rain water, every rusted-out old car potential shelter, and every person I meet . . . Well, let’s just say I can “improvise” the taste of chicken.

March, 5th 2019

Up close, you can’t #overlook the details. The bulge of a Kevlar vest, the way a mark moves if he’s strapped, the wary gait of a man who knows he’s a target. The world is safer through a scope, and at three-hundred yards, it’s just pull the trigger, lights out, get paid.

March, 6th 2019

“Drink, Eva,” Ivan said.

“No, the red stuff is yucky.”

Nadia sighed. “Ivan, for a vampire you are oddly unpersuasive.”

“I’m open to suggestions.” Nadia went outside and returned with a snowball.

“Who wants snowcones?”

“Me! Me!” Eva said.

“Ivan, the cherry #syrup, please.”

March, 7th 2019

1) The catcher smirks as I step into the box. He’s a young guy, his big league dreams still intact. I know what he thinks. Why do I keep playing? The pitch sails in, and the crack of the bat gives me the same answer it has for eleven minor-league seasons. I #belong here.

2) The house didn’t #belong in Miller’s Field. It sat alone, more ruins than home, its broken windows promising darkness and dust. We found the foundations of other houses, almost invisible beneath the weeds, chewed to concrete stumps. The old house loomed over the carcasses.#vss365

March, 8th 2019

I once believed #she needed a shield from the world and its darkness. I was a fool, blind to the scars she bore from past battles hard-fought and hard-won. The mighty have no need of champions. Now I fight beside her, beneath her banner, and I am stronger for it.

March, 9th 2019

Frankie “Ice Cream” was the #epitome of a good guy and a good hitter. He gave his marks Ben & Jerry’s. A sweet end, he called it. But a good guy can be a good hitter only so long. Frankie quit with an empty pint of B&J in his lap and one of his own bullets in his skull.

March, 10th 2019

His letters always ended with an ellipsis. The dates and names before that were things we already knew, horrors we’d already found. We studied them, as we had to, but what kept me awake at night wasn’t the awful details. It was the terrible promise of that dot, dot, #dot.

March, 11th 2019

Cooper called his pearl-handled Colt Peacemaker “Fool’s End.” He’d swagger into a saloon, pick some tough talker with iron on his hip and jostle him, maybe spill his drink. Then Cooper’d smile and wait, hoping the fool would test a #quick temper against quicker hands.

March, 12th 2019

Dr. Keller asked me to draw my nightmares. He said the first #sketch–all whorls and spikes–was good progress. The second, clearer, the face more real, scared him. By the third, he begged me to stop. By the fifth, they took him away. Now I can sleep, and I do not dream.

March, 13th 2019

Most headhunters end up zombie chow in the first month. They go in, guns blazing, and draw the horde down on their heads. I take a different #approach. I follow the rookies with my rifle, wait for ’em to do something stupid, and then make sure the new zombie dies first.

March, 14th 2019

I found a #pocket universe in an old pair of jeans. It ate my iPhone and twenty-six bucks before I realized what it was. When Jack kicked in my door to collect his money, I showed him what I’d found. Now he gets to visit another dimension one pocket-sized bit at a time.

March, 15th 2019

1) People say they #crave adventure, but that’s bullshit. They want the idea of adventure, the Hollywood version of being lost in the jungle or shooting bad guys. When you’re ten days without food in the Amazon or plugging bullet holes with your socks, you just crave home.

2) If you’re human and you #crave BBQ chips or pickles, you just run out to the store and get some. When you’re undead, and you crave the brains of a painter (tastier memories), you have to wait outside art galleries in the dark with a hammer and an ice cream scoop.

March, 16th 2019

When death came for me, I refused to go. So it asked me a #question. “When should I return?” Like a fool, I said never. That was a long, long time ago, and now I spend the endless stretch of years asking my own question. “Where is death?” I’ve yet to get an answer.

March, 17th 2019

He called his fists shock and #awe. He’d ask me which I wanted. I went with awe because his left was weaker. MMA taught me to use my own weapons, and when I came home the last time, he didn’t understand the change. I didn’t ask which he wanted. I just gave him everything.

March, 18th 2019

The deep space probe sent back a series of #cryptic messages, each different than the last. I cracked one weeks later; it was simply the number 10. The next message was 9, then 8, then 7. The messages stopped after number 1. Now we watch the skies, tremble, and wait.

March, 19th 2019

A guy came to the bar with a gun in his belt. He was real nice and offered his services for our #mutual benefit and protection. It sounded like a good idea to me, but Nick packed his bags that same night. When I asked why, he said, “Hey, Joey, who protects us from HIM?”

March, 20th 2019

He does his job under a #pseudonym. Sometimes he goes by cancer, or stroke, or heart attack; other times he’s car accident, killed in action, or simply victim. No matter what he calls himself today, his true name is writ large and bold across each of our frail bodies.

March, 21st 2019

A demon walked into Lucifer’s office with an idea.

“I’ve invented a way to #magnify human evil so it’s easier for them to be terrible to each other,” the demon said.

“Wonderful! What’s it called?”

“That’s the best part. It sounds harmless. I call it ‘social media.'”

March, 22nd 2019

Murder is a #riddle. The blood and bodies are clues to the who and why. Killers always obfuscate their horrors, all except the one we called the Headhunter. He took pride in his work, and he didn’t leave riddles. He left a statement in red, “Come and get me if you dare.”

March, 23rd 2019

1) How do you end a killer’s career without getting killed? A little #sabotage goes a long way. I soldered bullet to casing in that stupid hand cannon Oleg uses. Did it work? I wasn’t around when the gun went boom, but I’m told blind, one-handed hitmen aren’t in high demand.

2) He began his career with a gun. When it got too easy, he used a knife. After that, he just strangled his hits, and we thought we’d seen the pinnacle of the hitman’s art. Then they found Jimmy Moretti, eyes wide, mouth open, not a mark on him, literally scared to death. #satsplat

The second one here was actually a different Twitter microfiction hashtag–#satsplat

March, 24th 2019

I was a #thorn in his side. Only irritating at first, a tiny obstacle he pushed aside to get to my mother. He didn’t fear me for a long time, but the day came when he swung his fist and drew it back slashed and bloody. He’d failed to notice how big and sharp I’d become.

March, 25th 2019

The #frame is cracked, the photo faded, but I can clearly see the family who lived here. What’s left of them shambles toward me through the ruins of their house, and I go to work. When it’s done, I reload, and put the picture on the bodies. I say a prayer and burn it all.

March, 26th 2019

1) I was eight feet tall when the docs installed an implant to #inhibit my growth. When I hit fifteen feet, they tried another. At fifty feet, they started getting nervous. At five hundred feet, the army paid me a visit. I didn’t want to be a monster, but a man’s gotta eat.

2) We tried to #inhibit its growth, but it spread so quickly. We threw science and reason at it, tried to arm the population with facts. They didn’t want facts; they wanted chemtrails and ancient aliens and a flat earth. We watched, helpless, as ignorance devoured the world. #vss365

March, 27th 2019

As a child, I looked through the #keyhole at the door of my grandfather’s study and saw a vast alien world stretching beneath an emerald sky. He told me it was where he came from. After the funeral, the keyhole showed only dust and books. The magic had gone home with him.

March, 28th 2019

He #collects and cultivates misery, sowing dark seeds with targeted vitriol. His foul words take root and spread, tiny flowers of hatred nurtured by dogged malice. For a fleeting moment he has power, malign purpose, and something to fill the yawning abyss in his soul.

March 29th, 2019

“You don’t need your #robe. Just grab the paper,” she said. Why did I listen? I had it coming, of course. Revenge for the Saran Wrap on the toilet seat. Now I stand in front of a locked door, naked, shaking my head and grinning like an idiot. I’ve finally met my match.

March 30th, 2019

1) The #second time we tried to summon the devil, it almost worked. We used the right kind of blood–goat not pig–and Doug got most of the incantation right. But he fucked it up at the end because he still can’t say that one word. Christ, Doug, it’s BLASPHEMY not BLASMEPHY.

2) When it comes to that final decision, most folks can’t pull the trigger, swing the bat, or thrust the knife in the crucial #second. They freeze up, grow a conscience. That’s why I get paid. I’m not the strongest or the toughest, but I can make that decision. Every time.

March 31st, 2019

Some say I have the soul of a #poet. It’s true. I keep it in a jar on a shelf above my desk. It comes in handy when I can’t think of a good word. I just shake the jar like a magic eight ball, and after a short poem about some guy from Nantucket, the perfect word appears.


And that’s my March microfiction. If you have a favorite or two, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. There might be a longer tale in some of these scribbles.

A Week of Writing: 10/8/18 to 10/14/18

Fell of the weekly writing update wagon there for a bit, but I’m back at it. Happy Monday.

Words to Write By

This week it’s another one of my favorite quotes from Stephen King.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

—Stephen King

Show me a writer that doesn’t procrastinate, and, well, I just won’t believe you. 🙂 I think we all do it, and why do we do it? Mr. King hits that particular nail on the head with his quote. Before I actually start writing, all I can think about is what might go wrong, how I won’t be able to write that scene convincingly, make that character believable, revise this chapter into something coherent, even compelling. Of course, when I get over myself, and start, you know, writing, it’s never as bad or as hard as I feared. When I finish for the day, I almost always look back and think, “Now, why did it take me so long to get started?”

The Novel

I’ve been working on and off on the revisions of the novel for the last couple of weeks. Primarily, I’ve been writing new material to fix some of the plot holes and character motivation problems. This week, I’ll paste that new material in to the manuscript and then begin the process of revising the book as a whole. I’m still shooting to finish this round of revisions by the end of the month.

Short Stories

I started a couple new short stories last week. One is a compete rewrite and re-imagining of a piece I wrote nearly fifteen years ago, and the other is a completely new idea for a horror/humor anthology call. Just a couple of short story submissions last week, though I did send a few more the week before.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

These two submission give me 102 for the year, and you might have seen my post about hitting my 100-sub goal. At this pace, I should end 2018 with something in the neighborhood of 120 to 130 submissions.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

10/8/18: 100 Submissions – An Analysis 

This posts gives you the dirty details on my journey to 100 submissions: all the rejections, acceptances, the works.

10/12/18: My Acceptance Rate by the Numbers

An in-depth look at my acceptance rates broken down by type of market.

Goals

Keep revising the novel and finish the two short stories I started. And, as always, more submissions.

Submission Spotlight

This week, Pseudopod, one of my favorite markets, has opened again to general submissions. They’re part of the Escape Artist group of podcasts that publish awesome audio short stories. Pseudopod is their horror podcast, and, as you can imagine, that’s kind of my jam. I also might be a little biased since they published my story “Night Games.” But only a little. They are a pro-paying market with a great editorial staff, so send them something if you have a story that fits. Submission guidelines below.

Pseudopod Submission Guidelines


That was my week. How was yours?

My Acceptance Rates by the Numbers

I’ve blogged about the chances of getting published by specific markets, but what about a more personal view of the subject? If you’re regularly submitting work to semi-pro and pro markets (with a token/free market here and there), how many acceptances should you expect? Hard to say, honestly. There’s not a lot of data out there regarding what a good overall acceptance percentage looks like. Since the only hard data point I have is my own experience, let’s take a look at my numbers since I’ve been tracking my submissions through Duotrope.

The table below shows the last seven years, complete with how many submissions I sent, how many were rejected, how many were lost, never responded, or withdrawn, how many were accepted, and my overall acceptance percentage for the year. I calculated my acceptance percentage by dividing the number of acceptances by the number of submissions less the number of withdrawals and pending subs. Pending subs only affected the numbers for 2018. (If you counted those pending subs, my acceptance rate for 2018 would be 16%.)

Year Subs Reject L/N/W Accept Acc %
2012 6 5 1 0 0%
2013 16 14 2 0 0%
2014 38 29 4 5 15%
2015 46 37 2 7 16%
2016 53 43 2 8 16%
2017 73 64 4 5 7%
2018 101* 72 2 16 18%
Total 333 264 17 41 13.4%

*to date

I wasn’t writing much short fiction in 2012 and 2013, but things picked up the following year, and I started submitting more and getting some acceptances. As the years went on, I sent more submissions, and I received more acceptances. Then 2017 happened, and I’m still not completely sure why I struggled so much to get stories accepted. With 2017 in the rear view, 2018 has been, by far, my best year for both submissions and acceptances.

With the exception of 2017, my acceptance rate has hovered around 15% and I;m at 13.4% overall. I think that’s pretty solid. I’ve heard anecdotally that a 10% acceptance rate is about average. Again, I have no data to back that up, and, honestly, I think the acceptance percentage can vary a lot based on the type of market you submit to. So let’s look at pro, semi-pro, and token/free markets and see if it makes a difference in my overall acceptance percentages. As usual, I’m using the Duotrope definitions for pro (.05/word and up), semi-pro (.01 to .04/word), and token (under .01/word).

Market % of Subs Acceptance %
Pro 53% 6%
Semi-Pro 33% 11%
Token/Free 14% 47%

As you can see, more than half of my subs go to pro markets. The next biggest chunk go to semi-pro markets, and, finally, about fifteen percent go to token/free markets. Not surprisingly, my acceptance percentages line up with the general acceptance rates of the three market categories. Pro markets are hardest to crack, then semi-pro, then token/free. This is not to say there is always a correlation between pay and how hard it is to get an acceptance from a market. There are many fine token/free publishers who put out top-notch stuff and have acceptance rates in the low single digits.

Now let’s look at the numbers for just 2018, and see if my strategy of subbing primarily to pro markets is working.

Market % of Subs Acceptance %
Pro 67% 9%
Semi-Pro 22% 16%
Token/Free 11% 70%

This year I’m sending even more subs to pro markets and my acceptance percentages are trending up in all categories That’s a trend I hope continues this year and into next. So, why am I seeing more success in 2018? Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Dumb luck. As I’ve said many, many times, sometimes getting a story published is about putting the right piece in front of the right editor at the right time. I think I did that more in 2018. Conversely, I think I might have been equally unlucky in 2017, as some of the stories I’ve sold this year, I started subbing last year.
  2. Better stuff. I think my short story skills have improved over the last couple of years, especially with flash fiction, and I think that’s translating into more acceptances.
  3. Better submission targeting. I’ve learned a lot this year about which markets are more likely to accept my work and which aren’t, and that may have led to a few more acceptances.

Of course, I am still very much a work in progress, but I think I might have figured out some things that will lead to more success in the years to come. I hope. 🙂


Care to share your own acceptance rates? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.