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