So, there I was...giving my talk about e-publishing at the Haverhill writers' event on Saturday, and it occured to me what the person questioning me was having a problem with on the subject of acceptance rates.
My statement was that newer e-publishers seem to average about 1 in 40 submissions as acceptances. Established ones seem to average between 1 in 100 and 1 in 200, which is comparable to NY, from what I hear. She kept insisting that it HAD to be higher than that in NY, because NY gets a LOT of submissions.
Brain blast! Yes, I have children.
She's not doing the math here. Take Kensington's Aphrodesia line, for example. They put out 4 books per month, dropped it back to 2 per month then raised it to 4 again for 2007. That's 48 books per year...novel length or anthologies that come out to that length. At 1 in 100 acceptances, that would be 4800 submissions per year, but let's be nice and assume that line...that line ALONE, because it's so popular, gets 1 in 200. That means Aphrodesia would be pulling in 9600 submissions per year. Not Kensington as a whole, but JUST Aphrodesia. Does that sound like a small number to anyone here? It doesn't to me. Last I heard, they were short an assistant in that line, so imagine getting almost 10,000 submissions per year and not having enough people to read them. No wonder editors are always rushed. Grin...
But, then consider the number of lines Kensington has running...Zebra, Brava, Pinnacle, Urban Soul, Dafina, Citadel... Now, some are larger. Some are smaller, but each has its own submission slush and its own editors AND its own production schedule. Say, for the sake of argument that all of those have 2 releases per month and all of them have a 1 in 100 acceptance rate. That's six more lines and another 2400 submission each...which adds up to 24,000 submissions to Kensington group in a single year. Yes, that is undeniably a LOT of submissions, if it's about right, but that would also entail them putting out some 60 books per year. They probably do, at that.
Now, small press is small. By definition, they aren't putting out as many full-length novels as NY is. Well, to be honest, they might be putting out 24-48 full length novels per year PLUS novellas and shorts. But, is every line within a publisher putting out that many? No, probably not. And, they don't have separate staff to handle each line, either.
So, the bottom line is... You have to look at what they are putting OUT then do the math to see if that acceptance rate makes sense. In this case, I think it really does.
I should note that I haven't asked Kensington what their acceptance rate is specifically, but I've talked to editors here and there and have been told that's pretty standard...and I have asked what K's production looks like for Aphrodesia, so I felt safe applying numbers there. If someone has newer numbers for me, please pass them along. I always like to keep my figures straight, when I'm giving talks.