Everything you never wanted to know about submissions

So you've dredged up your soul and transformed it into 6,000 words of concise, literary, speculative fiction angst. Now all you need to do is publish the dang thing so the literary applause and money can roll in like a tsunami. Unfortunately, there's one problem standing in your way: The slush pile.

Yesterday I submitted a story to Interzone, a wonderful British science fiction and fantasy magazine. According to editor Jetse de Vries, so far this month he has received 276 submissions, totaling 1.3 million words of writing. 1.3 MILLION WORDS! That's equal to more than sixteen 80,000 word novels. Out of those submissions, Interzone may end up publishing five stories. If those odds don't scare you as a writer, then you are certifiable and shouldn't be writing fiction in the first place. Do the rest of us a favor and place your stories in an old filing cabinet so there's less competition. :-)

Seriously, every writer needs to know the odds they are facing. These odds apply to every fictional genre--be it literary fiction, SF/F, mysteries, or romances. But in the end, there's nothing a writer can do but keep writing his or her stories and submitting them again and again--no matter the odds.