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Just for fun… the cost of paper submissions

I started this and got a little carried away. Where I can, I document the places I’m pulling some of the assumed averages from, but there are pieces, like the postal costs, which came from Twitter friends. This is far from a scientific study. (Our esub system restricts the number of submissions someone can send us in a month. This could have been much worse.)

Average number of Clarkesworld Magazine submissions per month for 2010: 700
Approximate average number of words per submission: 5000

Average number of words per page: 275
Number of pages in a ream of paper: 500
Approximate total of 1 page cover letters per year: 8400
Approximate total of 1 page acceptance or rejection letters per year: 8400
Envelopes would have been used: 16800
Case of 500 envelopes: 4 pounds
Approximate weight of envelopes: 137.75

If Clarkesworld took paper submissions:

We would have received 26.9 reams of paper per month, or 322.8 reams per year.
We would have sent 8400 letters.

According to this site (and using their assumptions/approximations):

Pounds per ream: 5
Pounds CO2 released per pound of paper: 6.1

Pounds of Clarkesworld submissions in a year: 1614
Pounds of CO2 released by above submissions: 9854.4
Pounds of CO2 released by response letters: 512.4
TOTAL Pounds of CO2 released by sheets of paper in the submissions process: 10366.8
Pounds of CO2 released by envelopes: 840.37
TOTAL Pounds of CO2 released by paper products in the submissions process: 11207.17

Production of 1 ton of copy paper produces 2,278 lb of solid waste.
Tons of paper products in submissions process for one year: 0.92
Pounds of solid waste in production of paper used for one year of submissions: 2095
Production of 1 ton of copy paper uses 11134 kWh (approx. energy used by avg. household in 10 months)
kWh used in production of paper for one year of submissions: 10243.28 (avg. household 9 months, 6 days)


Assuming weekly trips to the PO box:
52 trips to the post office, 4 miles round trip, 208 miles
1 gallon of gas produces 19.4 pounds of CO2.
My car gets approximately 20 miles per gallon.
TOTAL Pounds of CO2 released by picking up paper submissions: 201.76
Postal Expenses:
Postage to send a submission within US (with return postage for letter): $1.73+0.44, $2.17
Postage to send a submission outside the US: $6.30
Approximate percentage of submissions from outside the US: 30
Approximate postal cost of US submissions: $12759.60
Approximate postal cost of international submissions: $15876
Total postal cost: $28635.60
USPS shipping 16800 letters.
I have no idea what it takes to ship all that, but I know that some people will argue that the computer I use and the internet have significant CO2 impact even though they would be on anyway… so I’ll cut them so slack and assume the USPS would be shipping things anyway. Let’s call it even. Your planes. My computer. (Some interesting information about the impact of the internet and computers can be found here.)

And yes, I know that we probably get a lot more submissions than we would if we only took paper subs… Like the title says, this was all for fun.

2009: The Year in Slush

I was poking through the Clarkesworld Magazine submissions database last night and thought I’d share:


Total Submissions 4269
Days open 320
Avg. Subs Per Day 13.3
# of Authors 2721
Highest # of Subs from a Single Author 25
By Gender Total Unique
Male 2852 66.81% 1826 67.06%
Female 1416 33.17% 896 32.90%
Unknown 1 0.02% 1 0.04%
By Country Total Unique
United States 3236 75.80% 2075 76.20%
UK 297 6.96% 201 7.38%
Canada 277 6.49% 177 6.50%
Australia 129 3.02% 82 3.01%
Germany 39 0.91% 12 0.44%
Ireland 26 0.61% 14 0.51%
OTHER (52) 265 6.21% 162 5.95%
By Day of Week
Sunday 583 13.66%
Monday 696 16.30%
Tuesday 627 14.69%
Wednesday 658 15.41%
Thursday 629 14.73%
Friday 572 13.40%
Saturday 504 11.81%
Avg. Response Time 1.49  days

Clarkesworld Submission Stats

Sometimes pictures are better than words:

May was a down month for submissions from women.  I’m not sure why, but it’s something I hope we can turn around.  If we count up all the submissions since September (actually, mid-September), women account for almost exactly one third. Interestingly, that third is responsible for 5 of the 8 stories I’ve accepted.

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)

March Fiction Submissions Stats for Clarkesworld

The March fiction submission statistics for Clarkesworld Magazine are very similar to those for February. There were very minor increases in submissions from men and people outside the United States. The only category with any statistically valid changes was first time submissions, where we saw a significant increase in the number of submissions from returning female authors.

Submissions Processed: 431

Average Response Time: 1.40 days

Gender Breakdown:
279 Men (64.73%), 0 acceptances
152 Women (35.27%), 1 acceptance

First Time Submissions*:
164 Men (58.78% of all submissions from men)
84 Women (55.26% of all submissions from women)

Countries with Two or More Submissions:

US 76.33%
Canada 6.5%
UK 6.26%
Australia 3.94%
Germany 1.39%
Taiwan 0.46%
Thailand 0.46%
India 0.46%
Sweden 0.46%
Ireland 0.46%
Republic of Korea 0.46

* The tracking system has only been in place since September 2008, so "first time" may actually be first time since then.

Latest Clarkesworld Magazine Acceptance

We’ve just accepted "The Devonshire Arms" by Alex Dally MacFarlane (alankria) for publication in Clarkesworld Magazine later this year.

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