Not long ago I wrote about a comparison between the self-reported submission numbers from Spectacle Magazine and what was reported on Submission Grinder. That made me want to take a more detailed look at submission and acceptance rates at a few of the genre magazines I read and submit to.
Editors at the following professional magazines kindly shared with me the average number of submission they receive.
- Apex Magazine: 800 submissions a month / 9,600 year
- Asimov's Science Fiction: 600 month / 7,200 year
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies: 250-300 month / 3,000-3,600 year
- Clarkesworld: 1200 month / 14,400 year
- The Dark: 300 month / 3,600 year
Next, we compare these submission averages with the number of original stories published in these markets in 2017. See note below for more info on monthly numbers.
- Apex Magazine: 2 stories a month / 24 stories in 2017
- Asimov's Science Fiction: 7 stories a month* / 84 stories in 2017
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies: 4.5 stories a month / 54 stories in 2017
- Clarkesworld: 4 stories a month / 48 stories in 2017
- The Dark: 2 stories a month / 24 stories in 2017
From these numbers we derive the following acceptance rates:
- Apex Magazine: 0.25%
- Asimov's Science Fiction: 1.16%
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies: 1.5% to 1.8%
- Clarkesworld: 0.33%
- The Dark: 0.67%
Now these numbers don't tell a writer's true chance of being published in these magazines because having a story accepted isn't a simple roll of the dice.
For example, markets accept different styles and lengths of fiction. Asimov's is more open to novellas than the other markets listed here while Clarkesworld doesn't accept them at all. So a novella would obviously have a better chance at Asimov's than Clarkesworld.
In addition, bad stories will be rejected nearly 100% of the time while a great story can rise above the bad and mediocre fiction. And believe me, there's a ton of bad and mediocre stories in every slush pile. Sturgeon's law at work.
So the best submission strategy a writer can have is to simply read the magazines' guidelines. Read a magazine's fiction. And keep writing and submitting.
* Note: The number of original stories published monthly for each publication was derived by dividing the total number of stories published in 2017 by 12. So even though Asimov's published 6 bimonthly issues, the numbers still show their publications as "monthly." Also, stories of different lengths were counted the same, meaning a novella and a short stories were each considered a story. And while Beneath Ceaseless Skies published a novella in two separate parts in 2017, this was considered as two stories since the two parts were published separately.