Thursday, October 22, 2015

Number games

We opened for submissions a week ago, on October 15th. We did receive a few submissions while it was still October 14th here in Boston, which we allowed since it was the fifteenth in most of the rest of the world. In the first week, we received 119 submissions, and sent 25 responses, shown in the graph below.


You can see how the submissions started very high, and then trailed off. Meanwhile, our responses took a while to ramp up, but it looks like we've hit the point where we're sending out responses at about the same rate as we receive submissions, which is where we want to be. Of the responses we've sent out, 23 are rejections and 2 are hold requests (more on that later). The ratio there is somewhat deceptive, though, as it usually takes longer to get to a hold than to a rejection.

Incidentally, we're seeing a lot of reprint submissions. While we're happy to have them, we don't plan for reprints to be more than a quarter of the anthology, so they're a tougher sell than original stories.

There are three of us doing first round (aka slush) reading: Kristin, Donald, and Hannah. If the first reader decides the story won't work, they can go ahead and reject. Probably about two thirds of the stories get rejected at this point. These are not necessarily form rejections; we might really like the story, but decide for some reason that it doesn't work for the anthology. If so, we'll tell the author why it doesn't work and invite them to send more stories.

If a story makes it past the first round, it's promoted, which means that it now needs to be approved by both Donald and Kristin (although, obviously, one of us may have read it in the first round and won't need to read it again). Either may exercise their veto authority, so it's possible it won't make it to both of us. We try to read one promoted story for every two first round stories we read, which helps us get through the first round faster without falling too far behind on the promoted stories.

If we both read the story and think it would work for the anthology, then we will send a hold request to the author. This means that we want to hold the story until submissions close and we select the final set of stories that we want to publish. We don't know yet how many stories we'll be holding--we suspect at least 50, maybe more. This will give us a good selection so we can get the balance we want of reprints and original stories, and of different kinds of stories.

The good news is that if you receive either a rejection or a hold request, you can then send us more stories as long as submissions remain open (one at a time, though!). This does mean that an author may have more than one story held. We're very unlikely to select more than one story from a single author, but if we do hold more than one story, that increases the chance that one of them will be a good fit when we make our final selection for the anthology.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule(s) to put this together. It's invaluable to get a glimpse inside the selection process, as that information is rarely made public. And since I've always been fascinated by numbers (and maps!) I'm very interested in a more complete submission analysis than is available on the tracking sites.

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  2. You're welcome. Being a numbers person myself, I had fun putting it together. I doubt I'll continue doing day-by-day tracking, but I may continue tracking it week-by-week.

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