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April 2015, vol 11 no 1

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Acceptance Rates at CHO: Crunching The Numbers

Bob Lucky

A change in editor can sometimes mean a change in a journal's direction. A year ago Lynne Rees and I stepped into the role of content editors at CHO. While I don't see the journal having changed course, some contributors did feel some confusion: a journal that once took just about everything they sent now seems to reject almost everything they send. I've felt similarly at times. Always stay amused, as a friend often reminds me. The quality of my rejected work may be as good or better than my previously accepted work and I know the definition of haiku hasn't radically changed over night, so what gives? Editors may generally agree on what constitutes good work, but they don't necessarily like all the same pieces. It often comes down to that question of taste, for which there's no accounting. Or is there?

Here's how Lynne Rees and I work. I do not read the submissions directly sent to me; instead, I copy and paste and delete authors' names into an author-less document. Lynne does a blind reading and sends me her acceptances and suggestions for revisions. Before I read her notes, I read the 'blind' document, by which time I've (mostly) forgotten who wrote what.

We're both looking for haibun with literary qualities and not for names of well-known haibunists. And we hope that CHO is a journal where readers can find the best work of new as well as established haibun writers.

I recently looked at statistics for acceptance rates by ten magazines publishing flash fiction.1 It ranged from 1% acceptance at Vestal Review to 27% at Boston Literary Magazine. Crunching the numbers for CHO, I learned that over the first three issues Lynne and I have edited, We have an acceptance rate of 27%. That indicates, to me at least, that there's opportunity for new writers at CHO and even for established writers that it's not a slam-dunk .

We want to publish quality haibun, so, in the words of so many submission pages, send us your best. Will everyone agree with our selections? Of course not. What a boring world that would be.

1. Chaney, Michael Alexander. "Top ten literary magazines to send very VERY short flashes," michaelalexanderchaney.com. 6 Sept. 2013.