Slush Statistics, September 2012

Our subs were up this month, but we had a low stretch after bringing the web submission form online. I hope it isn’t a problem with the sub form. Incidentally, if anyone reading this would leave a comment letting us know if you do/don’t like the submission form, or offering any feedback, it would be welcome.

*Total submissions: 71

*Duotrope responses received this month: 21
(currently 460 responses total)

Breakdown of reasons for rejections (note: All rejections are personal and the reason given for a rejection is the specific reason unique to that submission, even if it does look a bit like a generic form rejection.)

1) The writing wasn’t what we were looking for stylistically: 22

2) The story’s plot wasn’t what we were looking for. (Possibly the story seemed to be primarily a study of a character, idea, world, etc. Possibly the plot was slower to develop than we wanted. Possibly the pacing felt off, etc.): 37

3) The writing and plot were good, but the theme or content wasn’t what we were looking for, or we’d received other stories we liked better with the same theme, etc.: 0

4) Everything about the story was good, and there was nothing I could identify that knocked it out of the “hold” category, but it just didn’t QUITE make the cut: 2

5) The other editors and I did consider holding, but in the end rejected. They still deserve honorable mentions, however: 2

6) Were held for voting: 6

(total currently in the hold pile, to be voted by the end of November): 8

7 ) The story wasn’t speculative fiction: 3

8) Resubmission of previously rejected story: 0
(Unless we specifically ask for a rewrite–and it will be clear if we do–please don’t resend us stories we’ve rejected previously.)

9) Didn’t match our guidelines: 1
(These are stories outside our word count or poetry or some other form we simply don’t accept)

[Stories were sent back to the author with requests to resubmit due to improper submissions, typically because of not being subbed through the form, being sent as attachments rather than inline body text, or sent to the wrong address. These weren’t counted in the total monthly submissions: 10


And here’s the general information of what kind of submissions we received.

Science Fiction (stories set in the future with/without advanced tech, but not including spaceships, aliens, etc.): 15

Science Fiction (traditional space opera involving space travel, aliens, other planets, etc.): 14

Fantasy (traditional fantasy, to include sword & sorcery, fairies, etc.): 15

Urban fantasy: 13
[Vampires, werewolves, etc. are going to be a hard sell. If you do have one, make sure it's unique.]

Magical realism, slipstream, etc.: 8

Other: 3

Not spec: 3


First Person POV: 17

Second Person POV: 1
[These are going to be an exceptionally hard sell.]

Epistolary/Monologues (not straight 1st person):

Present tense: 4
[Present tense isn't our preferred form, although we have published it]

Novella: 2
[We only publish one to two novellas per issue, so our acceptance is low with them. However, the low number of novella submissions means chances of them being picked is higher]

Flash: 9
[We publish flash, but generally not too much of it. A fully developed plot is important, and the main reason most flash doesn't make the "hold" category is that it doesn't have a fully developed plot. We're happy to read flash, but do make sure it has a plot.]

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8 Responses

  1. My novella is finished so I can write short stories again :) I’ll try to write one for you so I can check out your new submissions system and leave a comment :)

  2. Dawn 

    Congrats on finishing the novella, and we’ll look forward to your submission.

  3. melinda 

    The new system is good. It would be nice to have a way for the authors to delete their rejected stories, but otherwise I like it.

  4. Dawn 

    Thanks for the feedback. As for deleting it, as an editor, I find records of what’s been subbed useful for several reasons. For one, they help with compiling/posting stats. It’s also useful on occasions when you start reading something, think it looks familiar, but can’t quite remember. It makes it possible to tell if an author is just resubmitting a previously rejected story. (Hopefully it’ll prevent those, but if not, it helps us identify them.) On rare occasions, if we notice what tends to be a trend in a particular author’s writing that we either like or that isn’t quite what we’re looking for, it allows us to comment on that as a bit of an overview. (Although admittedly, it’s fairly rare that we even notice that a story is submitted by the same author who submitted some other story. But it happens occasionally, especially when we get an author who subs 10-12 stories in a row as soon as we reject one.)

  5. Mykall 

    Hi Dawn,

    First off, these statistics are truly helpful.

    Would you be willing to elaborate on category #1 “Wasn’t what we were looking for stylistically” means? Does that indicate a writer that isn’t quite ready for prime time (e.g. the ‘amateurs’) who lack panache? Or does it simply mean the writing style does not line up with what you are looking for the publication (sounds about right to me)?

    Basically, what category do the bad writers get lumped into (may not be a PC question, but I’m all about candid honesty!). I’m basically trying to find out if I am bad writer or getting closer :)

  6. Dawn 

    There isn’t any particular style of writing that we’re looking for. We try to have a variety of styles, narrating voices, etc. in each issue.

    “Wasn’t what we were looking for stylistically” generally means it needs a bit more work as far as the writing itself. Of course, there’s a wide range in there, and often times the writing may generally be fine, but there are a few small things (overuse of adverbs, for example) that pull it down.

    The fact is, when we get around 300 submissions per period, and only publish about 10 of them, that means we reject a lot of stories, and it’s a tough call on a lot of them. That is, unfortunately, simply the reality of the publishing world. The best I can say is to keep working on improving anything that’s submitted and to keep submitting.

  7. Mykall 

    Thanks for clarifying. That was a good answer and makes perfect sense! I understand perfectly that competition is stiff. I was really more interested in finding out where I stood writing-wise in comparison to the rest. Based on your answer, seems I still need to work on my craft a bit. I will keep trying!

  8. Dawn 

    Understandable. I tend to be of the opinion that everyone can improve. (Well, at least I know I certainly can. :) ) I imagine most authors who are submitting stories are already active in critique groups, but I always encourage people to join them, either in person and/or online. (Both have their strengths and weaknesses.) has a good list of online ones.

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