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

Clarkesworld Magazine: Why we don’t accept paper submissions.

Why We Don’t Accept Paper Submissions

Electronic submissions are very convenient for writers and editors. Paper submissions are a nuisance.  Here are the reasons we do not accept them:

  • On average, we’d waste 400 pages of paper per month and hours of our time printing letters, stuffing envelopes and going to the post office.
  • I hate going to the post office.
  • I think making you pay to submit a story to us is unfair.
  • I think making you waste paper is wrong and inefficient.
  • The risk that your submission or our reply is lost is greatly reduced by managing the entire process through an online submissions system.
  • Our staff is scattered around the country. A centralized online system for submissions allows us all to share and manage documents efficiently. We can manage slush wherever and whenever we want.
  • We receive submissions from all around the world. It should be no more difficult or costly for them to submit a story and get a quick response than it is for someone in my home town.
  • I have found it much easier to organize online submissions. My experience as an editor is enhanced by powerful search and reporting tools.
  • We receive an average of 400 submissions per month. I don’t have room for all that paper.
  • My children would use your stories as scrap paper.
  • Paper cuts are too painful. (Thanks pabba)


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  1. The only reason anybody does take paper submissions, anymore – never mind paper submissions *only* – is entrenched habit and practice. The benefits of leaving all that behind like chastity belts and chattel slavery are all too obvious.

    • Anonymous

      Good entry, and most of that applies to why and how we do things at SH too.

      That said, I gotta disagree with this comment. Various pro editors have said that they can’t stand reading for extended periods from a computer screen, and I see no reason to doubt them. For those editors, paper subs make way more sense than printing out email subs.

      I imagine there’ll be fewer such editors over time. But for now, that’s the main reason I know of for editors taking print subs only.

  2. And hooray for you! I hate going to the post office too.

  3. Also, don’t forget to factor in the amount of papercuts one will endure over time.

  4. To be fair, I use a lot of my stories as scrap paper, so I’d be totally cool with your children doing the same. 🙂

  5. Thanks, Neil. Way to poke the hornet’s nest! 🙂

    • Hmm… since so many of us like e-subs, I thought it was the paper sub people poking the hornet’s nest. 🙂

      • Yeah I can’t imagine too many reasonable people being OMG!Shocked and Angered by this.

  6. I think making you pay to submit a story to us is unfair.

    and, if no other reason existed, that would be sufficient.

  7. On average, we’d waste 400 pages of paper per month and hours of our time printing letters, stuffing envelopes and going to the post office.

    Yeah, I know that from my end, buying stamps, printing cartridges, paper and envelopes, printing the query letter and manuscript out, addressing the outer and inner envelopes, putting on postage, putting everything together, takes a lot longer than I thought it would. It can be a whole production, obviously.

    This a great list. I’m glad that submitting electronically is becoming more of the norm. Submitting information electronically makes applying for jobs, and other business a lot easier too.

  8. I agree with you, though I’ve got to wonder if, as is the case with queries to agents, the ease of sending things electronically somehow encourages people to spray out inappropriate submissions. For example, sending you things with no specfic element because they’re just sending mass submitting to every market that accepts electronic submissions.

    • There’s always a group that doesn’t read the guidelines. I’d say the percentage stays about the same.

      I’d love to get detailed slush stats from a print-sub house, but most of what I hear is anecdotal. In those cases, it doesn’t sound like guideline-failures are terribly different from what we get.

  9. I always appreciate editors making my life easier!

  10. I may well be wrong about this, but I suspect that the fear that some publishers/editors have regards to switching to electronic submissions (namely the opening of floodgates of the electronic slush) is an exaggeration of the reality. Granted my only point of reference, was to ask Hildy how we fare now compared to before going only electronic, and her answer was: about the same.

    I don’t doubt that there will be an uptck in submissions for the larger, pro-rate paying magazines. However, I suspect it will not be nearly so much as they fear it could be. I think at first, perhaps, if only due to the novelty, but I expect that would die down quick enough.

  11. we Australians love email submissions. Used to cost us a fortune subbing stories overseas.

    • That’s exactly why I am for it as well. It allows people not in your geographic area to send stories (relatively) cheaply. I have no idea how much it costs to mail a manuscript from India to Brooklyn, but I imagine the author (who will be published in Sybil’s Garage No. 6 shortly) probably wouldn’t have sent us the story if we didn’t accept e-subs. Especially, as some have said, in a field that glorifies science, we should be on the forefront of these things, namely, you know, technology.

  12. I read this earlier today and kind of blinked at it, since it seems so obvious. Then I saw a link to the F&SF bit, and … Stared. Particularly at the following:

    In our office, it’s very inconvenient to pass around an electronic submission from one reader to another.

    … I just … I guess the internet’s sabotaged my imagination like people’ve been warning, because I do not grok.

    I have found it much easier to lose electronic submissions than it is to lose manuscripts.

    I’ve run out of ellipses. I can certainly understand not wanting to read on a screen, but the rest of it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Kudos to you for answering it like this.

  13. Here here!

    I’m lowly and insignificant, but I appreciate how mutually easy you guys make it for both parties on either side of a submission. There are markets I seldom or don’t submit to anymore because postal subs (especially the draconian process of getting overseas-postage return stamps) are wholly counter-productive and unnecessary, IMHO.

  14. As long as you have an online option then it would really make no sense for using the paper submission option. I try to reduce paper use as much as I can, in three months I’ve even reduced the size of the paper binders, I skipped for 3 inch to 1 inch binders so the paper savings are obvious to me.

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