55327_girl-writing_mdAm finally back from vacation. Besides the NFSPS conference, I attended a couple of writing workshops and actually managed to write a little bit of fiction. It’s not the most productive vacation I’ve ever had, but it ranks up there for inspiration. I’m going to pick up on the market analysis issue again here on the blog.

I’ve noted below that Connolly’s research (published in Clarkesworld) shows which magazines publish more women than men and vice versa. Checking through the data, I notice F&SF (pre-Findlay), for example, shows one of the most dramatic gaps, where 80% of stories published were by men. The data also seem to show that F&SF (pre-Findlay) took most of its publications from slush; however, there was no data provided on the number of submissions received by gender in the slush pile. That leaves us wondering if F&SF (pre-Findlay) actually received 80% of its submissions from men, or whether there was a strong gender bias at work in choosing stories for publication.

I do have personal experience that might shed light on this question. I used to hang around on the F&SF (pre-Findlay) Forum where Gordon Van Gelder checked in from time to time. When one gal asked him about the gender split (fairly obvious well before Connolly’s research), he replied that it was a matter of persistence. According to Van Gelder, women writers tended to give up quickly and stop submitting. This suggests the number of submissions from women dropped for the magazine as the gender bias in its publications of women’s stories became evident to writers.

Because F&SF (pre-Findlay) didn’t supply any submissions by gender data for Connolly’s study, this theory has to remain in the realm of speculation. The other possibility, as mentioned above, is that F&SF (pre-Findlay) actually received a reasonable percentage of well-written women’s fiction in the slush pile and the readers practiced a strong bias against women. However, Van Gelder’s statement suggests this isn’t the case.

So what conclusions can I draw from this speculation? Not much, because it is just speculation. Still, I think that markets get a particular reputation based on how they treat writers. The fact that someone asked Van Gelder about the gender split on his forum means that women writers knew they were unlikely to get a story published in the magazine. Then why take the time to even put together a submission? Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons or Apex look like much better bets.

Connolly did her research on gender. Unfortunately, data isn’t likely to be available on submissions and the diversity of writers (sexual orientation, ethnic background, etc.). Still, I suspect writers will do the same kind of rough market analysis as women on the F&SF Forum based just on the type of stories published. The decisions writers make about where to submit their stories counters the decisions editors make about what to publish, which can result in a sort of vicious circle of declining submissions for the magazine.

In a year where women writers swept the Nebula Awards (for example), pro markets are seeing the awards shift from the old guard to newer magazines more open to diversity. It leads to a situation where editors like Vox Day feel like they have to game the Hugo Awards in order to even get on the ballot. There are better ways, folks.