The Science of Submitting

I tend to submit my work in a flurry. I’ll notice that I haven’t submitted anything in a while, or have been waiting a long time to hear back about previous submissions, so I’ll send out work to a few places at once.


My Submittable list – I love/hate it.

Submittable has become the go-to submission portal for literary journals and magazines. Way back when, it was mail, then email and magazines’ own submission portals/websites. Then Submishmash became Submittable and that was that. The choice has become email or Submittable.

As a reader/judge of fiction for lit mags, Submittable is a small miracle. You can keep track of the hundreds of submissions and (more) easily get through them all . But is it too easy?

I’ve kept my own online spreadsheet of submissions since 2005. Before that, I have handwritten records back to 1999, when I first began submitting stories by mail.

Looking at my submissions since 2011, when I first submitted through Submishmash, I have submitted work 81 times (all stories/poems were submitted to multiple publications). Out of those 81 times, 35 were through email, etc., and 46 were through Submishmash/Submittable.

Out of these 81 submissions, my work was accepted 13 times – 2 were through Submishmash/Submittable, the other 11 through email, etc.

Obviously I’m a writer, not a data scientist, but even I can tell that this seems wonky. Even with so many obvious variables, it still begs the question – shouldn’t the acceptance/rejection rate be more consistent with the submission method breakdown?

Is it easier to say no through Submittable? Do editors give email submissions more time, more consideration?

On example: my story “Moonlighting.” During a 15-month period, I submitted it to 12 publications only through Submittable (reworking it a bit every few months). The last Submittable rejection was 11/28/15. I submitted through email one time, on 3/19/16, and it was accepted.

Maybe I just finally found the right publication for it. Maybe I just needed to work on it a bit more. Who knows. I also have examples that don’t support my theory.

It’s just something interesting to notice – and something else to distract me from the task at hand, which is writing more work to submit.


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