Thursday, December 19, 2019

There's Room for Everyone

Recently, someone said to me that it was easy for me to get published, because I write horror, and there are a bunch of horror magazines. When I stated that there aren't many pro paying horror magazines, they shrugged and told me it's easier for me to get published, because I'm not a white male, that white males can't get published right now, because you have to belong to a minority group to get published.

I've been hearing this a lot lately, but this is the first time someone came directly at me and made a statement that blithely intended to diminish or cheapen what I've achieved. I can assure you, I get published because I do the work, I hone my craft, I learn, I write, and I submit. Neither my gender nor my race show up on my submission letters. I don't send in my submission with the following note:

Dear Editor,

I am a part-Native female author, and I want you to accept my story simply because of that.

No, actually I don't mention either thing. My submission letters are brief, as is expected in the majority of the short story world. They list my story title, word count, and genre, plus a couple publication credits. Oh, and my contact information. That's it. My name is actually gender neutral. In certain parts of the U.S., you're more likely to find a Shannon who's male. It all just depends.


More important is the fact that this is a pure fallacy. If you pull up a bunch of short story markets, they will likely ALL list that they're looking for diverse voices. Where people appear to be getting confused is in thinking this means that's all they'll take. Tables of contents say differently. What it actually means is that they're encouraging diverse voices to submit, and they'll consider them along with everyone else. This isn't a white male blocker. This is an attempt to not JUST have white males in publications.

I took a look through the publications I've been in, so I could break down the stated genders in the bios. I won't name them by publication, because this isn't an attack on publishers, and these are not in order of publication date. This is me bloody well being exhausted from having my achievements questioned by people who aren't doing the work, and are more than happy to blame it on whatever they can grasp at.

I only went through print publications that were still in print. I did not count the all female anthology I was in, because that came out in response to a major anthology featuring Stephen King in which there was ONE female author, and she was one of the editors. I also obviously removed any from consideration that were a single author. That left me with 21 publications to comb through.

Publication 1: M - 3, F - 2

Publication 2: M - 13, F - 4

Publication 3: M - 4, F - 8

Publication 4: M - 7, F - 4

Publication 5: M - 7, F - 7

Publication 6: M - 9, F - 2

Publication 7: M - 6, F - 4

Publication 8: M - 4, F - 1

Publication 9: M - 5, F - 2

Publication 10: M - 6, F - 1

Publication 11: M - 16, F - 2

Publication 12: M - 7, F - 8

Publication 13: M - 20, F - 9

Publication 14: M - 13, F - 6

Publication 15: M - 5, F - 8

Publication 15: M - 7, F - 10

Publication 16: M - 9, F - 6

Publication 17: M - 3, F - 3

Publication 18: M - 6, F - 6

Publication 19: M - 4, F - 6

Publication 20: M - 11, F - 11

Publication 21: M - 8, F - 4

TOTAL: M - 173, F - 114

Publications in which I was the only female: 2
Publications in which I was one of two females: 4
Publications in which there were more males than females: 13
Publications in which there were more females than males: 5
Publications in which it was an even split: 4
Publications in which there was only one male: 0
Least amount of males in any publications: 3 (there were two, one with 3 females and one with 2 females)
Largest difference between male and female authors in any publication: 14 (Publication 11 - 16 males, 2 females)
Largest difference between male and female authors in any publication where the majority was female: 4 (publication 3 - 4 males, 8 females)

Someone explain to me how much easier I have it, because I guess I'm just missing it. I especially need it explained to me how much harder it is to get published as a white male.

Happily, this shows me that the rate of females being published is improving. It also shows me that it's still skewed in favor of males. As far as race, sexual orientation, etc., it would take me forever to comb through and figure out how many of each author fit under which category, but I think we can all agree that cis white authors of any gender are still being published at a higher rate, despite calls for diversity. I count myself in that group. I'm entirely white passing, and I am mostly white. I don't feel it's my place to claim being a minority. I have mentioned it in relation to a novel I'm shopping, because the main character is mixed in the same way I am, and her experiences are similar to mine.

Why write this post? Because I've heard this so much lately. I've seen such indignation that calls are put out for diverse voices. That is not an attack or an attempt to force men or white people out of publications. It's simply a means to get the word out that publishers want to consider ALL writers.

It stings that someone in my circle would say something like this. When it's strangers or even acquaintances I can let it roll off my back (most days). When it's people claiming women can't write horror, I try to ignore it and keep writing and submitting to prove them wrong. But something like this sticks with me. It makes me angry.

It also makes me even more determined to move forward and to keep getting published.

I wish every single one of you good luck in getting published in the new year.

May you find your Muse.

*Volunteering Hands,, legacynola


  1. People always need an excuse for their own failure.
    Considering how long you've been doing this, I would never consider anything you've done to be "easy."

  2. What Andrew said.
    Ironically, all of the IWSG anthologies have only had one or two male authors. Not sure why it worked out that way.
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Interesting! When I think about it, I'd say there are probably more female bloggers participating in IWSG. At least it seems that way. I haven't checked the numbers.

  3. I agree. I don't see calls for more diversity as meaning white dudes suddenly won't get published. And I don't see a publisher passing up a story that will make them piles of cash just because the author is a white dude.

    1. Absolutely! They're going to publish what they enjoy reading (or at least what they feel others will enjoy reading), what will keep readers reading, etc.

  4. I'll fourth that. And I'm sorry that happened to you.

  5. Hi Shannon - people just don't think before they comment or speak - we really need to listen more, and to understand that encouraging us all is the best way forward - helps everyone - cheers Hilary

    1. You're right. That same day someone scoffed about short stories and said they're easy to write. When I asked him if he'd ever written one, he said he hadn't. We should watch what we say when it's devaluing something someone else does (and I say this about myself, as well).

  6. What a rude thing to say. The only thing that really matters is a good story. (And maybe being able to throw a ton of money into marketing.)

    1. Marketing definitely helps! Now if only we all had a ton of money for it.

  7. I'm so with you, Shannon. I never did any statistical analysis in the short story markets that publish my genres - sci-fi and fantasy - but so far, by just scanning the names, I'd say that male writers outweigh female writers in many of the magazines.
    Also, I subscribe to John Scalzi's website. He gets bunches of new books from his publisher, Tor, regularly and always posts photographs of them, with the spines facing the viewers, so we could see the author names. And most of the author names are male in his bunches too.
    Those people who said those hurtful things to you are just jealous of your success. They don't do the work, but they expect publications as their due, because they are white males, and when that doesn't happen, they find someone to blame other than themselves. Happens all the time in the world history. Some throw around angry words. Others do worse - they pick up a gun and start shooting, because the world is not as kind to them as it should me. Argh!

    1. I think male outweighs female in speculative fiction, both short and novel length. I'm wondering if there's anywhere other than Romance where women dominate? Maybe YA? I'd have to look into that more.

      Speaking of those who pick up a gun and start shooting, I recently watched a show on the famous college tower shooting in Texas that long preceded other school shootings. There was so much I didn't know about him, and he had quite a bit of entitlement.

  8. Funny, but I thought the ratio was skewed more towards YA voices than anythings as mundane as male/female or race.

    Just shows that anyone can complain about anything!

    I think anyone as dedicated to writing and submitting - not to mention all the research to seek out the markets - as I've seen from your stats can't help but be frequently published. You are obviously a good writer who know how to market her hard work.

    People . . . always looking for excuses for lack of skill or hard work on their part.

    1. That would be interesting to look into--YA vs. adult. And thank you.

  9. Thanks, everyone! I didn't realize how upset I was until I started writing. I'd just intended to put the stats out there and address it matter of factly. Obviously, I didn't pull that off. :p I appreciate your support.