55327_girl-writing_mdHaving decided to ignore the Day/Tor flame war and vendetta, I’ll be going back for another look at complaints the Sad Puppies (as opposed to Vox Day) have raised. I’ve already pronounced these as worthy of consideration.

The most interesting question is about diversity in SF. Since I’m a female short story writer, I’ve always wondered about how gender might affect my submissions. Poking around, I’ve discovered an insightful study by Susan E. Connolly, published last year in Clarkesworld Magazine. For anyone interested in reviewing it, Clarkesworld has it posted in three parts online here along with a math supplement to further explain the author’s research design. Look for the first installment in June, then July and August.

Connolly conducted a survey of several well-known pro level markets (with many thanks to the staffs), collecting 2013 data on the number of SF submissions by women, non-binaries and men, along with data on slush, the number of publications, etc. also broken down by gender. As could be expected, both submissions and publications of non-binary authors was dismal.

Another interesting fact that emerges is how many submissions the various pro magazines get in one year. Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Daily SF and Strange Horizons got in the vicinity of 8,000-10,000 SF submissions in 2013 or roughly 667-833 subs a month. This says something noteworthy about the competition a writer is facing to even submit to these markets.

The next interesting fact that emerges is how many SF publications some of the magazines take from slush, as opposed to publications from invitation, reprints, etc. F&SF (pre-Finlay) won the prize for taking the fewest publications from slush (no surprise), and Tor.com appears to come in second. Lightspeed was about half-and-half. This says something about whether it’s worthwhile to submit to magazines with this kind of record, as odds are heavily against a successful submission. 

Looking at publications, the gender breakdown of the various magazines varied considerably. F&SF (pre-Findlay), Analog and Nature seemed to have the biggest leanings to male authors while Apex, Clarksworld, Daily SF, Lightspeed and Strange Horizons published more women than men. What Connolly points out in her analysis is that fewer women submit SF stories. 

She notes that some markets have taken to posting a welcome for diverse authors in their guidelines, with the assumption that this encourages more women to submit. It may. I do always notice that kind of thing because I tend to write stories about diverse characters. However, women are likely to look at other considerations, as well. Connolly’s research puts the data up there for everyone to see, but writers develop a feel for this kind of thing without any quantitative studies. I personally try to make a judgement about the likelihood of publication before I even start to write on an idea.

It doesn’t always work out for me, though. Some stories just take over my keyboard, regardless.

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