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How Well Does Submitit Work?

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

I officially started submit back in October 2020. (Philip Kennedy-Grant, if you’re reading this, I think you know you were #1—your invoice was #0000001.) Now, nearly a year later (my last invoice was #0000108), it’s time to see how we’re doing. The question is: What is Submitit’s story/essay acceptance rate? That is, what are the chances that a client’s story or essay will be accepted for publication?

(Note: Also interesting is our submission acceptance rate—that is, the number of accepted stories or essays divided by the total number of rejections. For those interested, I’ll cover this in a postscript.)

Submitit’s Story/Essay Acceptance Rate

Measuring Submitit’s story/essay acceptance rate is a little tricky, mainly because it’s not exactly clear when I should consider an unaccepted story “retired” (defined below). Clearly, if a story has been rejected by every journal I’ve targeted, and if the writer has not opted to add on new journals, the story is officially retired. Additionally, based on my two-round submission timing strategy, I decided that if a story has been out for around six months since my first round of submissions and around two and a half months since the second (or final) round of submissions (without an acceptance, obviously), I consider the story a longshot to be accepted. Of course, I hope I’m wrong with some of these, but for the sake of this analysis, I think it’s a fair (if pessimistic) guess. Thus, the rate I’m about to share is, if anything, low.

And the rate is . . . 65.8%! Here’s the data: Since I started Submitit, I’ve submitted exactly 62 stories. Of these, 25 were accepted for publication in a literary journal, 13 are retired (as defined above), and 25 are in-process (and thus not part of these calculations).

Let me write that again: 65.8%!

In other words, all things being equal, you have significantly better than a 50-50 shot of getting a story (or essay) published if you use Submitit. I think 65.8% is an excellent rate, better than I could have imagined when I started Submitit. I don’t know many writers who expect to get even half of their stories published. Submitit significantly improves most writers’ chances of getting their work accepted by a literary journal.

Importantly, I wouldn’t have gotten anything published without the wonderful stories and essays I’ve received from my clients. Of course, I believe my editing makes a difference, but I am still largely a middleman. I also know that many of the stories I’ve failed to get published deserve to be read. My goal, while unrealistic, is always 100%. But I’m happy to have created an algorithm that seems to be doing a pretty good job of getting my writers’ work to the right journals.

I’m constantly working to improve Submitit’s algorithm. I add one or two journals a week, and read a few stories almost every night. The more data I feed into the algorithm, the better it will get. So, while 65.8% is a beautiful number in my book, I’m excited about what the next year has in store. Could these numbers get even higher? I guess we’ll find out.

Thanks for reading! And happy writing!


If you’re interested in Submitit’s submission acceptance rate, read on . . .

Postscript: Submitit’s Submission Acceptance Rate

As stated above, the submission acceptance rate is the number of accepted stories or essays divided by the total number of rejections. First a little perspective: In past posts (like this one) I’ve talked about journals’ ridiculously low acceptance rates—many accept well under 1% of their submissions. I have 125 journals in my algorithm’s database that accepted 0% of their submissions in the past 12 months (according to Duotrope). 0%! I have another 50 that accepted fewer than 1% of their submissions, and another 63 that accepted fewer than 2% of their submissions.

That’s 238 journals that accepted fewer than 2% of their submissions in the past 12 months.

Here’s what’s important: These low-acceptance journals are the ones most writers tend to send their work to! They include all the ones we’ve heard of: A Public Space, AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction (I’m in the A’s), and so on.

So how did Submitit do? Since October 2020, I made 370 submissions to 171 different journals and received 345 rejections. During that time, I had 25 acceptances (as mentioned above). That’s a 6.76% acceptance rate (that is, for every 100 rejections, I get between 6 and 7 acceptances).

Submitit’s 6.76% rate is impressive (I believe) not because I’ve found some magical “in” with the top journals (when appropriate, I include many of these journals in my clients’ submissions, and, like the rest of the world, I’ve had minimal luck). Submitit’s rate is impressive because I’ve done a good job targeting more accessible journals, ones that, based on my algorithm’s match percent, might accept my clients’ work. This, of course, is one of the most important parts of Submitit. To a large extent, it’s why I built the algorithm and started the company.

One final bit of math: Statistically speaking, for a story with average likelihood of getting accepted, you would have to submit the story to exactly ten journals to have a 50-50 chance of getting published (50.3% chance of getting one acceptance). If you submit to 15 journals, your likelihood of getting published jumps to 65.0%. (This is close to my actual story acceptance rate; I suspect, without looking, that I average around 15 submissions for each story I receive.) Finally, if you submit to 20 journals, you’ll have a 75.3% chance of getting published. Of course, these are just based on my data. Different stories will have different chances, and much depends on the journals I target. But it at least gives you a rough idea.

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