Submission Strategy Review

A recent post by Becky Tuch on the Review Review has some good advice for writers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, in addition to all the amazing work editors do with reading submissions, contacting writers, designing issues, balancing budgets and so on, they also had x-ray vision and could see through the walls of your home and inside your desk and know at once all the great work that’s hidden there? And would then call you up and ask you to submit it? And would even put that submission into the mail for you?

But they don’t. They won’t. It’s up to you to get your work out of the desk (or your computer files, as it were) and into that Submittable database, or whatever other mode of transport required for an editor to see it.

I thought this was interesting for two reasons.

First, it adds credence to the idea that Submittable, the web-based submissions management app, is a ubiquitous part of a writer’s life. Why shouldn’t it be? It rocks! It isn’t perfect, though, and that’s partly because it isn’t in use by every publication out there.

Second, the post got me thinking: I have a submission strategy. Is it working? To find out, I took a look at Submittable for the things it can track and for everything else I dumped some data out of the submissions tracking database that I built for myself.

Here’s a review of my submissions

Submissions by year

YEAR    SUBMISSIONS       PUBLICATONS
-------------------------------------------
2011    03 Submissions   02 Works Published
2012    04 submissions   03 Works Published
2013    20 Submissions   08 Works Published
2014    12 Submissions   06 Works Published

Not surprisingly, the years where I sent more work out were also years that saw more works published, because you have to send submissions in order to get them published, of course.

2013 was the year I began getting my submissions process organized, and it seems to be working. By 2014, I managed to send approximately one submission per month with a 50% acceptance rate.

I’m curious to see whether new tools are helping others to do more, or more quickly. Are tools like Submittable making the whole process faster, or just easier? I’ve been tracking submission and response dates, so let’s take a look at the average response times that I’ve seen since 2011.

YEAR    AVERAGE RESPONSE
------------------------
2011    248 Days
2012    138 Days
2013    41 Days
2014    21 Days

This is all very unscientific of course, but I like to read it as an encouragement. It looks as though I’m able to submit more often and also it looks like the publications are able to respond more quickly.

Where can I take this? With the increasingly rapid turn-around time, I should be able to re-submit works more quickly, if they’ve been declined. Becky Tuch’s post that I mentioned earlier had a bit of advice that I can take to heart for the new year. Occasionally a rejection letter will say something like “this particular piece isn’t right for us, but we like your style and we hope you will send us more work in the future.” I’ve been ignoring that. Tuch says, don’t ignore the suggestion to send more work.

Believe the editors when they say they want to see more. They mean it. They wouldn’t say it if they didn’t. You don’t need to send them something right away, particularly if you don’t have something that’s ready to go. (See item #2.) But when you do have something, this venue is certainly one you should keep in mind.

Now, to embark on a new year, full of new writings, submitted to new venues, with the hope of new publications.

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