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Literary magazines hit with influx of AI submissions

by Darren Tio

A recent article by The Verge reported an increasingly worrying amount of AI-created submission for online short story magazines.

Sheila Williams, the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction, says the magazine usually receives 700 to 750 submissions a month from aspiring writers looking to get published in the prestigious magazine. In January, however, the magazine received an unprecedented 900 to 1000 submissions, the rise of which can be attributed to AI submissions.

According to Williams, these submissions are looking to make a quick buck, as published writers are paid by the magazine. Fortunately, these AI submissions aren’t that difficult to notice.

Common patterns among them include ‘suspiciously normal names’, instructions to wire money in the submission’s cover letter (despite not having been chosen yet), and literal [name] left on submission forms. Titles are also another big indicator, with Sheila saying that she’s received over 20 AI submissions with the title ‘The Last Hope’.

As a result, Williams has to sort through piles upon piles of AI stories in search of the real ones, leaving her less time to review genuine work.

It isn’t just Asimov’s Science Fiction that’s being targeted, as science fiction magazine Clarkesworld has suspended all submissions due to the influx of AI generated stories. The magazine’s editor, Neil Clarke, told The Verge they had to ban a high number of authors who submitted works done by AI.

In February this year, Clarke said the magazine received 700 human submissions, but over 500 AI ones. He also mentioned how a high number of them came from one specific region, but did not specify which one.

Another online magazine, Flash Fiction Online, has also suffered similar predicaments. Of their 1000 submissions this year so far, 5% of them have been AI generated works.

Although the AI stories themselves are easily discernible, this has given cause for aspiring writers looking to get published to worry. But according to Sheila Williams, ‘the good stories are obvious early on,’ and she continues to encourage real writers to continue to submit their work for consideration.

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