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2015 Clarkesworld Submissions Stats

Every now and then, I dive into the data from the Clarkesworld Magazine submissions system. This time, I’m looking at our 2015 data.

This data includes stories submitted or accepted in 2015. It doesn’t represent all stories published in 2015. (Some stories published in 2015 were submitted or accepted in 2014. Some stories submitted or accept in 2015 were published in 2016.)

This data does not include our Chinese translations. (They are handled through a different process.)

In looking over this data, please keep in mind that these charts represent QUANTITATIVE data which would incorrectly imply that all stories are equal. The process of selecting stories for publication is a QUALITATIVE process reflective of our opinions. If we were to receive more zombie stories than any other kind of story, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that we would be more likely to publish zombie stories. I don’t like zombie stories, so we don’t publish them. Quantity can be misleading in a qualitative process.


The spike in June corresponds with the increase in our upper word count limit to 16,000. A number of writing-for-pay websites capitalized on the announcement and sent hundreds of people our way.


We get fewer submissions on the weekend.


This chart shows the submissions by month in blue and the “near miss” letters by month in red. In 2015, 2.53% of all submissions received our top-tier rejection letter. The monthly average for submissions was just over 1000 and the first two months of 2016 have trended higher.


The red line represents top-tier rejections and the green line represent acceptances. The acceptance rate for 2015 was 0.3%.


In 2015, we received submissions from 109 different countries. In the above chart, the blue bar represents the percentage of total submissions for that country. The green bar indicates the percentage of all acceptances. (Reminder: The Chinese translations are handled by a separate process and not included in these numbers.)

Note: If you feel inclined to proclaim that this data indicates that I have a bias towards international submissions, perhaps you should read this editorial. That said, it pleases me that Clarkesworld has a more global representation of science fiction. There’s a lot of great work written beyond our shores.


This chart breaks out “other” in the prior chart and only includes countries from which we received 10 or more stories. Interestingly, China’s numbers have fallen despite our special translation project. I’m wonder if Chinese authors think that’s their only way in now. (It isn’t.)


In this chart, blue bars represent the percentage of submissions and green indicates the percentage of accepted stories. 2015 was a very strong year for science fiction submissions. I was hesitant to post this graph for fear of discouraging writers in other genres. We want those submissions too.

This last bit of data doesn’t require a chart. The average word count for our 2015 story submissions was 4495. That’s fairly consistent across genres with the exceptions of horror (shorter) and SF/F (longer). Acceptances, however, averaged 5650 words. I expect both of these values to climb slightly in 2016. (More to do with the higher word count limit than a specific preference.)



Submissions by Month

Presented without comment:


The last thirty days in slush

The Clarkesworld slush pile has been extremely active lately. In the last thirty days, we’ve processed 1240 submissions.

This is how they break down by genre:


Short Story Author Survey Demographics

The short story author survey is now closed. In the end, I received 944 usable responses. I’m not ready to talk about the theory that inspired the survey, but it looks like I’ll have enough time to write it all up for my editorial June issue of Clarkesworld Magazine (to be released June 1). In the meantime, I can share some of the demographic information:

Male: 53.8%
Female: 43.5%
Other: 2.6%

Publication History
Published in Clarkesworld: 7.2%
Traditionally Published: 80.7%
Self Published: 30.1%
Unpublished: 13.3%

USA: 70.6%
UK: 7.3%
Australia: 5.6%
Canada: 5.6%
Other: 10.9%

Under 18: 0.2%
18-21: 0.8%
22-29: 12.7%
30-39: 30.3%
40-49: 32.5%
50-59: 16.3%
60-69: 6.7%
70-79: 0.4%

To short story authors

I’m testing a theory and need your help. Can you answer the questions on this survey? It should take you less than two minutes and it’s completely anonymous.


[survey closes Wednesday night]

The truth about short story titles

The title frenzy continues. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here are posts one and two about the most common titles and words in titles in the Clarkesworld slush pile.

I posted both sets of data because I found them interesting, nothing more. Some people (here and elsewhere) have opinions about the use of those titles and the people who use them. They do not speak for me.

Here are some facts:
  • I have never rejected a story because it had a common title
  • I don’t even pay attention to the title until I’ve decided to purchase a story
  • Changing a title is EASY, so if I don’t like it, I’ll discuss that with the author
  • There are plenty of good and bad stories with those titles, but the title is not what made them good or bad

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