Last week I posted my 2012 poetry submission statistics, which were better than I expected (34% acceptance rate, 68 submissions). So I looked at earlier years for a reality check.
In 2011, I submitted 69 bundles of poems, collaborations, poetry comics, and short stories to various journals. 19 journals accepted my work, which makes for a 28% acceptance rate. According to my records, I received 43 rejections. (One of these arrived within an hour of my submitting; a couple others arrived within a day. Others took 18 months or more.) Seven journals never replied. Interruptions: Collaborative Poems (with Daniel M. Shapiro) came out in 2011, but I can't count the manuscript as a 2011 submission -- it was accepted for publication in 2009.
In 2010, I submitted 62 bundles of poems, collaborations, poetry comics, and short stories. I got 14 acceptances (23%), 39 rejections, and nine no reply.
In 2005, I submitted 60 bundles and got 13 acceptances (22%), 43 rejections, four no reply.
What strikes me about these numbers is that the number of submission bundles each year is about the same. That totally amazes me. I guess the lesson here is that no one should trust my estimates of anything. I would have guessed that my acceptance rate was lower than 10% and that I sent an average of about twenty submissions a year with a wide variance.
And by the way, I wouldn't interpret my increase in acceptance rate as evidence I've become a better poet (much as I'd like to think that were true). I think the increase probably comes from submitting more carefully, knowing the magazines better and thinking in terms of where do I want to be, with whom do I want to be associated, rather than what magazine is the most famous.