Lies, Damned Lies and Poetry
Although the quote has several possible attributions, Wikipedia notes:
Mark Twain popularized the saying in Chapters from My Autobiography, published in the North American Review in 1906. "Figures often beguile me," he wrote, "particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"
I have played a full pack of submission cards (excluding jokers). My fifty first and fifty second submissions have now been sent out this year. My spreadsheet shows I currently have a 9.6 percent acceptance rate for 2017, which makes me very happy :)
I'm a very sporadic submitter — often a month will go by without me sending a poem out into the wide world, but I think 52 poems in 10 months isn't such a paltry number. This week I also marked my first submission as withdrawn — I try not to simultaneously submit but this time I misjudged when I'll have heard the results of a competition, so I've withdrawn the same poem from a magazine submission — Sod's Law is certain that I'd win the competition, only to be disqualified by the magazine getting in and publishing the poem first! Avoid simultaneous submissions, it saves annoying editors in the long run ;)
Love in the Time of Statistics
Microsoft Excel and I have a long and turbulent history. We go back to the days where I used to write database systems in Excel for companies who were allergic to databases but could cope with spreadsheets. I've datamined sales records, produced project ranking systems, and played Tetris and Pacman on spreadsheets. For a hobby I wrote a music cataloguing spreadsheet for my 2000+ CDs, records, minidiscs and cassettes. The daftest spreadsheet I ever wrote was one that calculated how much you're in love with somebody else, using that old childhood method of writing one name above a word like loves or adores and the other person's name below it. Then you would count how many times each letter appears, and then each number gets added to the adjacent number and this is repeated until you find a one or two digit which tells you what percentage you are in whatever with the other person!
The Percentage Game
If you're confused about what's going on there, the first row of numbers are the times that l, o, v, e, and s appear in total in the names Giles Turnbull and Jane Spreadsheet. Then you create the next line of numbers by adding the number pairs in turn, so three plus zero puts 3 on the next line, , zero plus zero equals zero so that is next on the second line, then zero plus 5 equals 5 so that is third on the second line etc etc etc. Sometimes I think I have too much time on my hands, though maybe I could submit that as an abstract number poem? ;)
Accept the Signal
I wonder, if I took a straw poll, how many of you, dear poets, would like to know what percentage of your poems get accepted. I know I do! SO I have a pretty simple spreadsheet for tracking every poetry submission I send out, the date I send it, the editor or judge, and the eventual fate of that poem. The nifty bit comes in the shape of a formula which calculates the number of poems that have been accepted, shortlisted, longlisted, declined, and those that are still open. It then calculates the overall percentage success rate from that number.
My undying admiration goes to anybody who knows where this section heading comes from ;)
100 Years of Poetry
I don't merely offer you my spreadsheet, I offer a lifetime of support (that's my lifetime, your lifetime or Excel's lifetime, whichever comes first). How can you begin your own love affair with Excel and my submission tracker? Watch this blog because a store page is coming soon and you'll be able to download the spreadsheet and a user guide for midway between the price of a poetry entry to the Bridport Prize and The Moth prize ... £10 to put it into numbers :)
This is the Way the World Ends
... not with a bang but a spreadsheet! Your life without a spreadsheet is close to its end. Because I've less sense than money I can't help myself offering a 20 percent discount to pre-orders received before the store page goes live. I don't know what date that's going to be yet because I only asked my lovely web designer to put the web wheels in motion this week, but it's going to expire before long! If you're not numerically inclined and don't have a spreadsheet to help you work out such details, 20% off drops the price to £8.
Contact me through the contact page on this website, or email me direct at giles (dot) turnbull (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know you'd like to get your submissions into shape. Don't forget to tell all your other writerly friends who are in desperate need of a spreadsheet to track their haiku, poems, flash fiction, short stories, and novels because this spreadsheet is 100 percent genre-tolerant :)
#Writers #Submissions #Spreadsheets #Statistics #PreOrderOffer