Neil Clarke

Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

International Submissions: A longer view

 
Following on the earlier post about international submissions, our submission data goes back to 2008, so I took another look at the data by year:

A closer look at the change in non-USA submissions:

And to give you some sense of the variety of countries participating: (Keep in mind that 2008 and 2020 are both partial years in terms of available data.)

The lifetime top five countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, India) were broken out separately because individually their data was the most influential. They were not chosen by language, but it shouldn’t be surprising that it fell that way. Creating “other” to represent the rest of the world allows me to show the progress being made internationally outside those countries. I’m not going to list all 120+ countries participating, but the top ten within other are: Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Netherlands, Italy, France, Philippines, and Spain.

A Windows into Clarkesworld Submissions by Genre

 

If you go back to 2015 or 2016, the distance between Science and Fantasy is smaller. SF represented around 39% back then and Fantasy was closer to 27%. Dropping Horror as an option contributed to some of this, but SF has slowly gained ground, even without that. I decided to see if the increasing international submissions might be impacting it, but it doesn’t appear to be the case.

Relampeio Festival 2020

 
Brazil-based Relampeio International Literary Festival will be presenting live online interviews with an assortment of international members of the SF/F/H community. I’ll be among this year’s participants with an interview scheduled for this Sunday. All interviews will be available via their YouTube channel and presented in either English, Spanish, or Portuguese. English and Spanish program items will also be translated into Portuguese.

Why the future of SF is international

 
I’ve often said that the future of science fiction is international. It’s not a ding against US-based authors. We only represent 4.25% of the global population and the other 95.75% is getting more involved. Now I have some data to back that up. (CW submissions 1/2019-5/2020.)

Pandemic Slush

 
As you might expect, most story submission trends in Clarkesworld‘s slush pile have been tossed out the window in 2020. After a significant dip in March (to around 950), submissions jumped in April and nearly reached 1200 in May.

Judging by email addresses, we’ve seen nearly double the volume of people submitting a story to us for the first time. (In reading slush, I was noticing a much higher number of cover letters that indicated stories were first submissions of any kind.) Editors love discovering new authors, so this is a welcome development.

It also seemed like we were experiencing some changes in the makeup of our international submissions, so I dug a little deeper.

In February, US-based authors sent us 62% of all stories and that’s in line with various 2019 numbers. (I will point out that in 2017, this was closer to 68-70%. Our efforts to increase international submissions have been effective.) In May, it fell to 59.1%. I don’t believe it’s ever been that low before.

The UK, Canada, and Australia have always rounded out the top four, with India a distant fifth. Over the last four months, submissions from India have been steadily increasing at a significant rate. In May, they became the first country to push someone out of the top four by having 4.2% of all submissions, with Australia falling to fifth with 2.9%.

Sixth place down, has always varied wildly and they’ve almost always fallen below 1%. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen submission surges from a handful of countries (Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Nigeria, and Pakistan) that have had them break the 1% barrier in either April or May. I’d like to spend some time looking at the genre breakdown for these submissions at some point. My impression is that some lean very heavily towards dark fantasy.

The total number of countries represented by the slush pile (65 in both February and May) is holding steady, but there have been some minor fluctuations in the overall makeup. Nothing worth going into detail on as this sort of thing happens all the time.

I’ll end by inserting my standard disclaimer:

By encouraging international submissions, I am in no way frowning on authors from the US. I encourage them to submit too. Good stories aren’t restricted to one’s own backyard, so I’m trying to make sure I cast the widest possible net. Let’s see what the rest of the world can bring to the table. Each story is considered on its own merits regardless of where it came from. (Yeah, I actually have to say this. Some people…) Many foreign authors assume we won’t consider stories from outside the US, so it requires a bit of effort on my part to convince them to try.

 

Flights of Foundry Online Convention

 
This weekend, I’ll be participating in a new online convention called Flights of Foundry. It’s an ambitious project with tons of programming scheduled throughout the weekend. You can register and find out more details at: www.eventbrite.com/e/flights-of-foundry-2020-registration-101961294978. Registration is free, but a donation is requested.

The full schedule can be found at: flightsoffoundry2020.sched.com and I’ll be on the following panels:

Bringing International SFF into the English-speaking World
Saturday, May 16 • 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST

Behind the Scenes at a Speculative Literary Magazine
Sunday, May 17 • 3:00pm – 4:00pm EST

How to Stand Out in the Short Story Submission Pile – Advice For How to Get Your Stories Noticed by Professional Markets
Sunday, May 17 • 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST

How Much Can I Charge for My Labor of Love?
Sunday, May 17 • 6:00pm – 7:00pm EST

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