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Editor's Desk:
One Hundred Thousand Titles

In April 2015, I wrote a blog post about the most popular titles submitted to Clarkesworld after its first fifty thousand submissions. We started using that system in 2009, so it took about six years. Just under four years later, we passed the one hundred thousand mark, so I decided to jump back into our database and see how things have changed since then.

As before, there were a lot of ties, so the list below contains the twenty-two story titles with the ten highest counts. I added two extra columns to show the similar top ten placements in the original analysis and their place when just the second fifty thousand submissions are considered.

Title

Overall

First 50K

Second 50K

Home

1

2

4

The Hunt

1

6

1

The Box

2

3

4

Homecoming

3

2

7

Dust

4

1

10

The Gift

5

2

8

Reflections

5

8

3

Monsters

6

4

8

Hunger

6

2

10

The Interview

7

 

2

Flight

8

6

10

Adrift

8

7

9

First Contact

8

 

3

Alone

8

7

7

Legacy

9

7

10

Lost and Found

9

5

 

Going Home

9

10

7

The Wall

10

9

9

The Visitor

10

 

7

The Other Side

10

9

8

Rebirth

10

9

9

Awakening

10

9

9

Since the first report, we have three new titles breaking into the top ten: The Interview, First Contact, and The Visitor.

Many titles lost their top ten status: Sacrifice, Heartless, The End, Red, The Visit, Broken, Voices, Genesis, The Collector, Disconnected, The Prisoner, Deus Ex Machina, Hero, Skin Deep, Memories, Skin, The Machine, The Tower, Coming Home, Rain, The Dark, Inheritance, The Door, The Choice, Happiness, Perchance to Dream, Last Call, The Fall, and Night Terrors. Only Lost and Found maintained its over top ten place without making the top ten for the second fifty thousand.

What does all this mean? What it tells me is that while some titles remain very near-and-dear to a few author’s hearts, overall we’ve seen even more authors using unique titles. That’s probably a good thing, but it does lead me into some points I ended up having to make after the first report.

  1. I have never rejected a story because it had a common (or even a terrible) title.
  2. I don’t give any thought to the title before I’ve decided to purchase a story.
  3. Changing a title is easy, so if I don’t like it, I can have that discussion with the author.
  4. There are plenty of good stories and bad stories with those titles. The title is not what made them good or bad.

That said, unlike previous data-based editorials, this was done strictly for the fun of it. The only statistic worth noting this time, is that duplicated titles represent a small minority—less than 10%—of all submissions to Clarkesworld. That’s a pleasant surprise. It doesn’t even pass 20% when you remove all the common variations that come by adding the, an, a, etc. to the title.

Since we’re having fun, I’ll leave you with this: I took every story title ever received by Clarkesworld and dropped it into Wordle to produce the following visual representation of the top 150 words used in titles (minus the common English-language words). Enjoy!

P.S. I can’t let it go without comment that “zombies” made the cut. I’ve previously told you they were everywhere in the slush pile. Now that we’re not accepting horror submissions, maybe that will fall off the list in time for the one hundred and fifty thousand submissions update. One can only hope.

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ISSUE 155, August 2019

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neil Clarke

Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine and Forever Magazine; owner of Wyrm Publishing; and a seven-time Hugo Award Nominee for Best Editor (short form). His anthologies include Upgraded, Galactic Empires, More Human Than Human, Touchable Unreality, The Final Frontier, Not One of Us, and the Best Science Fiction of the Years series. His latest anthology, The Eagle has Landed, was published in July by Night Shade Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.

WEBSITE

neil-clarke.com

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