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05 August 2013 @ 04:08 pm
Submissions: The Long Road  
I've heard many expressions of disappointment, frustration, and sometimes despair about story rejections. As a veteran of many story rejections myself, I totally get it. But sometimes I think new writers (or maybe I should say newer writers, since I'm relatively new myself) have an unrealistic notion of how long it takes a story to finally get accepted and published.

Since I'm an obsessive keeper of records, I thought I'd share my own statistics. I gather that I'm reasonably successful for a writer at my level of experience, so these are the statistics of someone who is doing well. I thought I'd present them as a sort of reality check for other writers.

Year  Submissions      Acceptances
2007            2                         0
2008          72                         6
2009          71                         7
2010          73                         3
2011          65                         7
2012          54                         6
2013          28 (to date)            2 (to date)
TOTAL    365                       31

Types of stories accepted:
Science Fiction: 13
Fantasy: 6
Mainstream: 3
Slipstream: 2
Horror: 1
Crime: 1

Statistics for Stories Accepted:

Drafts:
Minimum:    1
Median:      3
Maximum:   7

Days between first and last drafts:
Minimum:      0
Median:     129
Maximum:  909

Number of submissions:
Minimum:     1
Median:       8
Maximum:   20

Days between first submission and eventual acceptance:
Minimum:         9
Median:        437
Maximum:   1,213

I almost never revise because of a rejection. I'll certainly do it for a rewrite request, but not otherwise. By the time I send a manuscript out, it's already been seen by beta readers (usually my writing group), and I've revised based on some of those comments. I don't see any point in revising it further, because I know how subjective matters of taste are. My typical assumption is that someone, somewhere, will find the story pleasing. I cannot tell you how many times the comments made in a personal rejection by an editor are almost the exact opposite of the comments made by the editor who ultimately accepted the piece.
 
 
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girlspell: reading under a treegirlspell on August 5th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
I think you are relatively successful in your submissions. Also your stories seemed to have been picked up very quickly. I don't think you had that many rejections when you started out. So I think you are doing pretty well. I think on the average, your stories sell. Obviously because you write well and present the stories publishers are looking for. You hit dry spells. But I think everyone that writes goes through them.

Ken: Blowing Kissken_schneyer on August 5th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Rachel!
celestialgldfshcelestialgldfsh on August 5th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
I admire the thoroughness of your statistics. I really wish I had seen more information like this when I was first starting out--when I thought a single rejection meant a story would never sell to anyone.
Ken: Blowing Kissken_schneyer on August 5th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
I still occasionally have that feeling with the first rejection of a story. The statistics are my security blanket.
serendipity9000serendipity9000 on August 6th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this. As someone just starting down the road of sending out my writing, it is great to see one set of 'real stats'. It also gives me a good idea of what I want to track myself.
Ken: Winkken_schneyer on August 6th, 2013 04:11 am (UTC)
My pleasure, Jeanne. Glad it's useful.
madderbradmadderbrad on August 6th, 2013 11:49 am (UTC)
You've been writing (fiction) professionally for over six years now? Wow, how time has flown.

The most startling statistic to me is that it's a median of more than a year before you get a bite. (And Rachel thinks that's 'very quick'?!)

I cannot tell you how many times the comments made in a personal rejection by an editor are almost the exact opposite of the comments made by the editor who ultimately accepted the piece.

That's the most interesting observation of all. Heh. It's good you've got the confidence to stick to your guns.
Ken: Winkken_schneyer on August 6th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Brad!

It's been a long time since it was all fanfic, yeah?

The median submission time statistic goes along with the median number of submissions. Some of the more desirable markets take 1-2 months to respond to a sub, so if you have eight of them, it mounts up.