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Ms. Haskell is Not Amused, Either

Things that are ridiculously disheartening--

From my control panel in Duotrope:

Pending responses for last 12 months: 4 (Subscribe to a RSS feed Special RSS Feed of your Pending Submissions) BETA
Submissions sent last 12 months: 14
Submissions sent this month: 3
Acceptance ratio for the past 12 months: 30.77 %
Note: Your acceptance-rejection ratio is significantly higher than the average for users who have submitted to the same markets. Please report all your rejections as well as your acceptances. Your submission reports will be discounted by the system until your submission patterns fall within normal limits.


I've not under-reported a single rejection or submission.

I understand wanting to filter out bad data, but c'mon. I'm hardly burning up the world here with my 30% success rate, and while it is flukey, there are other legit folks who have 30% years, I'm quite certain.

I'm gonna have to write a ranty message to the Duotrope folks, I'm afraid, because I really don't need to be chastised for the truth. It's a great service. I donate to it, even.

What kind of message is that, anyway? That there's a level of success that's believable, but anything more than that, you're not a real writer? Uhm...

Look, I sold two stories last year--one new one to a great market, one reprint to a great reprint market. But this is hardly the stuff of pathological lies. For my troubles, I got 10 rejections and a dead market (and one pending response), and yes, that is a pretty fantastic rate of return, but I also made a whopping $260 on that, so come on. It's not like I'm faking acceptances from the New Yorker while secretly filing all my rejections in Peru--or insert your own strangely difficult to render politician sex scandal joke here--, and it's certainly not like I'm not reporting my rejections. There are some stories I have sold on the first time out. There are many more that I have never sold. The data backs all of that up.

What's the writing world really about if even my tiny modicum of success is considered a fabulistic outlier?


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
So I'm thinking Duotrope is flooded with people who submitted tons of stuff. So even if they've gotten lots of acceptances, the percentage rate is really low. I bet their message is automated by some machine thing that doesn't even consider the truth. Write them an e-mail and explain. Attach one of your stories too so they know the greatness they're dealing with.

Also, you're fabulous, don't forget that. You make this writing sound easy. :)
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
I'm SURE that they are flooded by people who like to tweak their stats. But it seems like there's got to be a better way! They're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. --And maybe they aren't, I'm not a statistical mastermind, but they sure are annoying me!

I did send them a relatively low-key suggestion letter to perhaps come up with other ways to weed out bad data--or to include good data, anyway. I tried not to be an ego monster about it. :)

But! If I have made the writing sound easy, then I have misled. It is not that it is easy. But for some personalities, it is less hard than the not-writing.
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Er, I actually meant people who submit say a hundred things and then get ten accepted. Even though that's ten acceptances that's a low percentage. And I'm sure there are people who trickle off and don't update...but yeah. Agreed.

Ah, didn't mean that you make writing sound easy, meant rather that you give me hope that it's possible to swing it. Which is easy, because the idea of not writing is ugh.
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
I rather suspect that Duotrope is fighting more against stats tweakers than for the diligent folks who submit widely and get a 10% success rate, but who knows.

And hope is great. I'm glad you have hope. :)
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
Who in the name of Blessed Basement Cat are these duotrope hamster-butts?
And how can I avoid them if I ever become a real writer like you?
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Well, they're pretty easy to avoid. It's a submission tracking website. No writer is obligated to use them. But I have found their site useful, since prior to that, this was my method of tracking: stats.merriehaskell.com (with some detailed stuff elsewhere).
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
I'm puzzling over it even more than I was, 'cause I think what put me over into flag territory was reporting a dead market. Saying your submission was dead in the water should make that either a null or a rejection.

And I am boggled that they do acceptance to rejection ratio, and not acceptances as a percentage of all submissions, which I suppose makes writers feel happier, but it's like baseball stats in my mind: you get your at-bats, and if the market dies, that's an error that discounts your effort. Hm. Whatever.

I need an icon that disclaims all knowledge of sports.

Edited at 2010-02-12 04:28 am (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
Acceptances/all would be misleadingly lower, though, based on pending submissions. I have to say I haven't spend a lot of time worrying about how to keep my stats. :)

I haven't paid much attention to Duotrope's statistics, though. What percentage of writers use it, and rejections probably are underreported.
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
Not classy. (Er, Duotrope is being not-classy. Not you.)

Edited at 2010-02-12 05:01 am (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
What?! This is insane!
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't like assumptions of guilt, and combine those with form notifications, and that's not-cool.

What Duotrope tries to do is hard (i.e., report accurate and useful writing statistics to the writing community), but that's not an excuse for accusations.

It's kind of like job applications (or agent hunting, for that matter)--you can blitz the world with thousands of resumes (or agent queries) and get thousands of rejections, or you can use a more tailored approach and still get a fair number of rejections, but less, proportionately, than if you had done the blitz approach. It sounds like you tripped their alarm wires by taking what I'd consider the smarter approach to writing and submitting.

...for me, though, what annoys me most is the tone. I can understand being concerned about outliers (though, guys, come on! You will have some people who have high(er than you expect) ratios of acceptances to rejections), but it's the assumption of guilt and tone of accusation that bug me.

... If I can commandeer your rant a bit, it reminds me of some markets' submission pages, which tell you not to bug them with checking in on your submission, and to read their goddamn market before you submit so as not to waste their time and-- etc. Just... really off-putting. Like, I know there are entitled jerks who submit stories, but why must you write your submissions page as if all people out there were entitled jerks?

Rudeness. Meh.
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Meh, indeed!!
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I've had 100 percent years, but that's because a) I only submitted one story and b), I ignored the advice about starting at the top and submitted it to a semi-pro market I was pretty sure would buy it. I make less than you do at writing, not counting the nonfiction I do to make a living -- it's just that at the low end of the numbers scale percents go wonky.
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Right--which is why I don't think they should therefore discount all the rest of my data. MY percentage is high. But it's only reported to me. My percentage of success at particular markets isn't anything interesting--or skewing--as I still haven't sold twice to the same first run market (I am good about selling to the Escape Artists reprint markets consistently, though). And so forth.
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
I have heard this from another writer too. I hope they sort out the problem. :(
Feb. 12th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Dear duotrope sysadmin,

Ms Haskell is a very talented writer and hence a healthy percentage of her submissions become acceptances.

Any questions? No?

Then stop hassling her already.


Anon. professional writer who recognises talent when she sees it, damnit.

(No, I didn't send this to duotrope; I'm sure you've already said it in more diplomatic terms.)
Feb. 13th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Well, it's that bad for the rest of us normal people, but you're that good, Mer.

And they're forcing the curve? Okay, I had thought about using them to start tracking my submissions. I'm sure I'd be able to drag the curve back in the direction they want to see. But not if they're going to cook the stats.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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