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The 2020 LHMP Fiction Series is Chosen

Sunday, February 2, 2020 - 14:31

Yesterday I read through all the story submissions, winnowed them down to a short-list, then made the hard choice of which five to buy. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I sent out responses to everyone, drew up and set the contracts for the five stories selected, and by this morning had most of the contracts signed and returned. SInce I'm still waiting on one, I won't post the titles and authors yet, but I thought you might be interested in some trends in what types of submissions I've been getting over the last three years.

I still haven't matched the total number of submissions from the first year (24), but this year's 19 were more gratifying than last year's worrisome 10. To the extent that there's a pattern in when they arrive, I see a small bump around the end of the first week, and then things really take off in the last week of the month. Between a quarter to a half of all submissions come in on the very last day. So I guess deadlines are a way of life for many people!

In terms of length (given that I have a cap of 5000 words), a fairly consistent 40-50% of submissions fall within the 4000-5000 word range. But shorter lengths are also well represented. This year was unusual in having only a single story come in under 2000 words, whereas in other years 25-40% have been in that range.

The 19th century has consistently been the single most popular century for settings, and taken together the 17-19th centuries dominate with 50-80% of submissions. Earlier settings sometimes come in odd clusters: in 2018 I had three in the 15th century, this year I had three in the 13th.

In terms of geography, Europe is a heavy hitter with 40-80% of the stories, but I've consistently received stories set in several Asian cultures. North America is used as a setting less commonly than one might expect.  Of course, receiving stories set in a diversity of cultures doesn't mean they'll all make the final line-up, but it's a necessary condition for that.

This was the first year that I opened up to including certain types of fantastic elements in submissions and (depending on quite how you define fantastic) maybe a third of the submissions included something of the sort (which roughly matches the proportion in acceptances).

I'd be curious to know how the submitters heard about the Call, but it isn't a type of data I collected (and I'm not sure I'd want to collect it because it feels intrusive). In addition to getting the CfS listed in several of the commonly-used aggregators (like Submisions Grinder), and promoting it heavily on Twitter and Facebook (as well as on my own blog and podcast), I know that people were passing it along on their own sites and lists. I suspect the biggest problem for the 2019 series was that I didn't plug away enough, for long enough, in enough places. This year I'll make a point of starting the push in mid-year again.

Now I just need to choose which story will appear at the end of the month and get recording!

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