The Huge Slush Pile

As a writer, I’m always hoping my story will battle it out to the top of the slush pile. But here’s what usually happens. I send out my story, wait anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months, and eventually get a rejection. (Looking at the submissions grinder, I’m not alone.) I let out a sigh, update my submissions spreadsheets, possibly do a quick revision, and send the story out to the next appropriate market.

That’s the writer side of things. What does it look like from an editor’s perspective?

Over at Slushpile Avalanche, Suzanne Vincent of Flash Fiction Online posts that their slush numbers are approaching 7,000 stories per year, averaging 18 stories per day. Holy moly, that’s a lot of slush. I’ve never been an editor, but I can’t even imagine going through that many stories a day (even with the help of slush readers.) Or rather, I can imagine it, and it seems like an huge amount of work. Especially since many editors do this as a labor of love.

From what I’ve read, many other magazines are getting comparable amounts of submissions. Clarkesworld keeps detailed submission statistics, which you can find in their backlogged blog entries. Submissions Grinder–a fantastic and free website for submission statistics–also records submission numbers. (Good for a general overview, although the data isn’t complete, because it only records numbers from writers who use the site.)

Knowing that the slush pile is enormous can be both daunting and comforting. Sometimes I wonder how my story will ever stand out amidst all of those other wonderful works? But it’s happened before, so I keep faith that it will happen again. And when I get rejected, I remind myself that rejection doesn’t mean my story is bad. It could just mean my story isn’t good enough. Or that another story was better.

And I can do something about a story that isn’t quite there yet. I can keep writing. I can get better. I can be thankful that I’m not an editor.