Open Submissions Month #2: Stats
4 years ago
So I thought, for interest’s sake, I’d break down the numbers a bit and we could have a bit of a look at the current state of genre submissions...
Basic numbers first. This year we had 70 submissions. That’s compared with 89 last time, which is a small drop, but – as I mentioned yesterday – where last time probably a third were slightly hopeful pitches from writers who clearly still needed to spend a lot of time practising their craft, this time that was really only true of a handful. Counting only ‘serious’ submissions, we were if anything slightly up on last year, which was great. A much larger proportion of the submitters had a publishing history than last time as well, at least in short form and small press.
Let’s look a little more closely at the numbers, then.
Those submissions came from 59 authors, which broken down by gender came to:
A little surprising – although not hugely – and pretty disappointing. Most of my peers in the industry report that about a third or less of their submissions come from women, and discussions about how to grow that share, to get more women out writing – or, perhaps more pertinently, to get the women who are writing out submitting – are ongoing in the community. But one in seven? That’s on me, and I can see I have some work to do reaching out to a more mixed talent base.
The chart on the right’s an interesting one, although with numbers this small it’s perhaps not hugely indicative; but while most of the submitters sent in only one pitch each, the minority of authors who did spread their bets were exclusively male. My experience is that the submissions by women were much less likely to be “chancers” with unpolished submissions, which combined with this supports the argument that women aren’t taught to put themselves forward in the same way. Food for thought.
Moving onto country of origin, then:
So forgive me conflating the US and Canada, but they’re a single market for book-distribution purposes, and I felt it gave a strong visible indicator of what’s going on here (for what’s it’s worth, the US/Canada split came to 5-3). So the small number of pitches from further afield (Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Malaysia) perhaps isn’t a huge surprise, for an English-language publisher, but the vast UK/US disparity here came as a huge shock, not least because our books sell at least four copies in the US for every copy they sell in the UK. Apparently our web community – upstanding nerds like yourselves – is demographically very different from our readership; our UK fans are checking us out on Twitter and elsewhere, while our US readers are content to buy our books.
So what did you send in?
The genre mix was fascinating. For an openly pulpy, consciously dark imprint, we seem to have invited a lot of SF submissions. Which, since I asked for something “different,” may well be the point! Those SF pitches break down more or less evenly between cyberpunk/transhumanism, space opera and post-apocalypse, with a couple of steampunk and superhero pitches and a few outliers. Horror and urban fantasy were popular, with the inevitable zombie stories, occult investigation and angels-vs-demons plots in the lead. Fantasy was pretty thin on the ground.
The chart on the right’s more interesting, in many ways. Last time, when I specifically asked for pitches for our existing worlds, grudgingly extending permission to submit a new world, fully 80% of the pitches were for new worlds; this time, specifically asking for new worlds, one of which would actually serve as the cornerstone of our birthday celebrations, the number’s actually a little lower! This might reflect the slightly difference composition of the authors: working writers might be more inclined to follow an existing world for a work for hire gig, and keep their original ideas for development in different markets.
And of those who did submit to existing worlds, which ones were they?
The big turn outs aren’t too surprising. Tomes of the Dead is a perennial favourite; zombies are forever, and there’s no existing world to adhere to. 2000 AD has a huge fan base. And we’ve put a lot of support behind The Afterblight Chronicles in recent years, with several novellas and omnibus editions, so there’s bound to be interest there. Gods and Monsters and Weird Space likewise; they’re more recent series, with releases in the last couple years. But seeing the love for Pax Britannia, and especially The Infernal Game, after so many years, was inspiring.
So there you go. That’s who’s submitting, and what they’re submitting. Tune in tomorrow for the Big Announcement!