What I think of ChatGPT as a Short Story Submissions Reader
I’m in charge of anthologies at a small indie press. This means I decide when we open and close for submissions, what the parameters are for the selection of a story for publication, which stories — and how many — are chosen for an anthology, and what order they appear in inside the book, amongst other things.
I work with a team of readers to ensure that every submission is read — and there are always 70+ stories. This is a lot of work. We’ve had a policy till now of reading through and replying to every submission within two weeks of the submission period closing — something we’ve done because we respect the time authors put into their stories. We don’t want to keep them waiting around if they’re rejected.
Will we be able to do that when we next open for subs? I can’t tell you.
Stopping the AI Flood?
You might have seen recently that the biggest market for science fiction and fantasy short stories, Clarkesworld Magazine, has had to close to submissions after being flooded by over 500 AI-written submissions in February alone — more than they can physically keep up with. If we suffer a similar deluge… I’m not sure what action we can take to stop it.
From my position, I can see a couple of avenues.
The first is to impose a small fee on story submissions — that would probably stem the tide. The key problem with these AI bots is they can generate a story based on a sentence. Theoretically, a person (I refuse to call them a writer or author) could generate 100 stories in a day and send them all off. If they all get rejected, they lose nothing. If one in a hundred is accepted, they’ve made a decent amount of money. A small fee would stop that dead, because submitting 100 stories at $3 a go would cost them $300.
But I’m morally against that idea. There is already so little money in this industry. Magazines and small presses don’t make as much as they used to, so they can’t afford to pay more than token sums to authors, and the chance of having a story accepted is remarkably slim (our current anthology, for instance, had something like 76 submissions and 8 acceptances, and many places receive far more than this). Submitting should be free because then it means…