The next series charts focus on wordcount for submissions from 2019, 2020, and 2021 at Clarkesworld Magazine. (We raised our upper wordcount limit on submissions to 22,000 at the start of 2019.) For the purposes of these graphs, wordcount is rounded to the nearest thousand.

Graph depicting submissions by wordcount starting at 1000 and ending at 22000 for the years 2019-2021. Each year follows a similar path with the bulk of submissions being between 1000 and 5000 words, with the most popular being 2 or 3000 words. It then declines quickly between 6000 and 9000 before one more similar decline from 10000 to 11000. It then slowly trails off with a shallow decline and low numbers until the end.

The average wordcount for submissions during this window was approximately 4,800, but the most popular length was 2,000 or 3,000 words.  Prior to increasing our upper limit, the average length was a steady 4,600. There are clearly more short stories in circulation than novelettes (stories between 7,500-17,499 words) or novellas (stories over 17,500 words).

Please note that this graph starts at 75%. The volume of short stories is considerably larger than novelettes and novellas.

Now let’s look at what we accepted in those years:

Graph depicting accepted submission by wordcount starting at 1000 and ending at 22000 for the years 2019-2021. Each year is more distinctive than the previous graph. Peaks at 5000-7000 for 2019, 4000 for 2020, and 6000 for 2021. Bulk of the activity is between 2000 and 8000. Then it trails off like the previous graph but with some activity.

Going by this you might think we prefer short stories (works under 7500 words), but it’s not a coincidence that, even with annual variation, it nearly mirrors portions of the shape of the submissions graph. We simply have a lot more to choose from.

And this provides me with another way to demonstrate the pointlessness of acceptance rates:

Graph depicting acceptance rate by wordcount starting at 1000 and ending at 22000 for the years 2019-2021. Demonstrates that high acceptance rates are happening in the opposite of what was shown in the previous graphs. Low submissions impacts the percentages creating a misleading image that your odds are better at longer lengths.

This chart, using a different perspective on the same data, makes it look like we actually favor novellas.

The only reason it looks like a smart move to be writing on the longer end of our wordcount range is that we receive fewer submissions at those lengths. A single acceptance carries considerably more weight than one for an equally strong (or even stronger) story at a shorter, more popular, length. While we would love to see more novelette and novella submissions, it shouldn’t be with the expectation that your odds of publication will be any higher by doing so. In fact, we expect that an increase in submissions at that length would simply flatten that graph.