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.