How To Promote Diversity in Fiction Markets

The Internets are abuzz lately with talk about inclusiveness and diversity in Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction. There’s the whole dustup with SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) which NKJ touched on in this post. There’s the Hugo nomination list that includes only one female writer and about two or three writers of color. There’s this insane argument pertaining to that. And then there’s the issue of diversity in fiction markets and the slush pile*.

That last issue came up several times in the last few weeks both in public (see Mike Resnick’s comments here) and in private conversation regarding Fantasy magazine. (Yes, again… it never ends.) In both instances, two editors who differ in age, experience, and probably ethnic or religious background said nearly exactly the same thing to me. To wit: ” I didn’t know (or care) if [the people who submitted to my markets] were black, white, purple, or polka-dot” (Resnick) or “I don’t choose stories based on race or culture or gender, I just choose the best stories” (an editor friend).

I really, really hate this excuse – for several reasons. The first of which is that it gives the appearance of being reasonable, thereby shutting down further discussion or debate. In writing, only the story should matter, not the writer! It also assumes that the submission pile represents an adequate and accurate cross-section of writers and stories. Therefore, by picking the best, the editor is automatically being fair.

The appearance of fairness, though, is false. That’s not readily apparent. Thus, anyone who disagrees seems, to the casual listener, unreasonable and strident.

I submit that I am neither unreasonable nor strident (at the moment). I hope that means people will hear me out.

The problem with the argument is several-fold. First, any given slushpile at any given magazine (with few exceptions) is not balanced. There will likely be far more male authors. There will certainly be a high percentage of white authors. Most of these authors will be of the same class, the same or similar cultures, and from the same country. Given that there will be so few stories from women, ethnic minorities, people of different classes, cultures, and countries, and given that very few stories in any given submission pile will be accepted, the chance for diversity is very small.

Why isn’t the slushpile more diverse? There are several factors, some of which have nothing to do with the magazine or editor. Writing requires free time, some measure of economic stability, money, and a supportive environment. There are some writers who, despite all of these drawbacks, were able to make sales and become famous, but they represent a small minority.

Beyond those factors, there is some fault that lies with the markets themselves. How do markets choose to advertise that they’re looking for submissions? In the old days (a whole 7 years ago) most markets listed themselves in the Writer’s Market or the Literary Marketplace and probably called it a day. This pretty much ensured that mostly well-off white men submitted because they had more access to the knowledge that such books existed and the time to pore over it.

Nowadays, there are more options. Most markets in the SF field have a website and their guidelines are listed there. We also have sites that collect market information and keep the list updated with news, warnings, etc. So now the information is more widely available. But, again, this is usually the end of an editor or publisher’s efforts to reach writers.

As I mentioned in this post, not all authors gather in the same places and know about the same stuff. In our genre, many writers and fans of color specifically don’t get involved in the wider fandom because they do not feel welcome there. (And if I hear any crap from assholes out there about how people of color need to get over themselves about this, I will smack you – that’s not a valid argument.) This isn’t as true about female SF writers as it used to be, but the perception of SF as an old boys club hasn’t disappeared completely.

If a market is serious about promoting diversity in the slush pile — and therefore upping the chances of diversity in the magazine — the editor/publisher needs to seek out non-normal venues to alert people about submission guidelines. This doesn’t mean taking out a full page ad in Jet or Ebony, but it does mean doing some investigative work and maybe talking to people who might know about these ‘secret’ enclaves.

Even this is not enough. The next component is the magazine itself. An editor can shout from the rooftops all he or she wants that they would love to see more stories by women, or by minorities, with female and minority characters. However, writers will not believe them if they look at the magazine and see nothing but Blandy McWhitey White in Blandy McNeighborhood in America or Blandy McMedieval Europe or Blandy McDefaulty Man in any setting anywhere.

As a reader, I’m not only looking for authors who are non-white or non-male, I’m also looking for characters who are non-white, non-male, non-American-acting, non-default. Honestly, I think about that more than the author’s background because the story really is the important thing.

At first an editor may not get a lot of this in the fiction that comes over the transom. So turn to the well-known writers who submit to you instead. Encourage them to send you more stories that will help transform the image of a magazine by and for Defaulty McWhite into one that is interested in exploring a wider spectrum of ideas and viewpoints.

In order to attract stories of this type from newer writers, an editor or publisher has to work hard. They have to advertise this fact. There are plenty of submission guidelines that say something like, “We don’t see enough science fiction stories.” How about “We don’t see enough/We would like to see more stories that feature different cultures, female/ethnic minority characters, non-American settings.” In fact, it would work better to be even more explicit and detailed than that.

Another idea NKJ offered was for markets to pick regular themes which touch on different areas that might invite in a more diverse mix of content. For example, a fantasy magazine might ask for works derived from a different culture each month, or based on the folktales of a different nation.

Much of the problem here is perception. If writers don’t perceive that markets are friendly toward them as minorities or toward stories that don’t just feature white males, they won’t bother to send to those markets. They also won’t bother to buy the magazines. If editors and publishers change their attitudes and change their perceptions, writers will take a closer look. The submission pile will, slowly, become more diverse.

There’s still one more step: selecting submissions. I would never suggest to an editor that they should choose a story simply because the author or main character is female or black. However, I would suggest that editors take a harder look at the stories they like from the slush pile. Does the story contain a heavy infusion of Blandy McDefaulty character/setting? How many stories have you accepted lately with these qualities? Have you received any stories that you love that aren’t Blandy? Is it worth it to maybe be really selective about the Blandy stories and try harder to find non-Blandy stories you really love? I’m willing to bet that most editors don’t think about this at all. They just say “Hey, I liked that story!” and move on. How much thought is given to the balance of stories you’re publishing?

If a market just isn’t getting a lot of diverse stories, that’s an acceptable reason. It’s the editor’s job to then do everything she or he can to draw in that diversity and then be very conscious of how well they’re implementing it.

None of this matters if a given editor doesn’t care about diversifying their market. If you just want to continue publishing the same kinds of stories by the same kinds of people because that’s what you want to read and promote, fine. But don’t then tell me you’re “choosing the best stories” because, as you can see, you may not be seeing the ‘best’ all of SF has to offer, you’re only seeing the best of what white men have to offer.

I am well aware that when I post this there is every chance that a horde of editors and people who know editors and people who think they know what they’re talking about will come here and tell me how wrong I am about one or more of the points I raised above. I’m going to head a little of this off at the pass with three points:

1. I was an editor for two small press SF magazines for five years. I read a lot of slush. Though the markets I worked for are not nearly as well known, high paying, or prestigious as the Big Three** or even ‘second tier’*** markets, the ‘zines did publish authors who’d also appeared in those other arenas. The slush piles are not identical, probably, but not so very different.

2. If anyone disagrees that their slush piles or Table of Contents are not diverse, I invite you to post your stats in the comments. The Male/Female author breakdown is easier to tell from names, etc., but I understand that someone’s ethnicity or cultural background is not readily apparent. However, you can take note of where the submissions come from – that’s one data point. And you can also take note of the gender, race, class, and culture of the characters in the story. (Here’s a hint, if the race, class, or culture isn’t explicitly mentioned, you can usually assume white, middle class, American.)

This post will be here for a long time, so if it takes you a while to gather this data, don’t worry. We’ll still be interested in a month or a year or whenever.

However, if you can’t back up your counter-argument with numbers, then don’t bother claiming that you’re absolutely right and I’m absolutely wrong. It doesn’t work that way.

3. Before you start to get upset that I’m calling editors and publishers racist or sexist, please read this post on White Liberal Guilt. The main thrust is that just because I or anyone else points out that a person is being insensitive to these issues doesn’t mean we’re calling you a bad person. Sometimes it takes people from outside pointing out things you can’t see/aren’t aware of in order to bring it to your attention. That’s all I’m doing here, bringing stuff to your attention.

So, to review. To promote diversity in your slushpile and then, by extension, your market, you must:

  1. Make sure a wide range of people know that your magazine accepts unsolicited submissions by reaching out and posting notifications in venues frequented by non-white and non-male individuals.
  2. Put your money where your mouth is. Publish more stories by established authors that feature non-default people and non-default settings so that newer authors (and readers) will see your market as open to diverse views and ideas.
  3. Update submission guidelines to very clear statements of what the market is looking for or lacking.
  4. Get creative with ways to attract more diverse subjects, settings, characters, and writers.
  5. In the fiction selection process, think carefully about the stories you choose. Publish stories that reflect a true balance (but don’t lower your standards to do so).

Agree? Disagree? Bring it on.

, , , , , , ,


*Slush Pile – how editors refer to the stack of unsolicited (i.e. non-asked for or non-agented) submissions they get. Going through these stories is sometimes called ‘slushing’.

**Big Three- Asimov’s, F&SF, Analog

***Second Tier – my own term for prestigious, well-paying markets that aren’t the Big Three. This includes Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Interzone, etc.

88 Responses

  1. To draw a parallel of sorts, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress book series was deliberately created because she wanted to open fantasy fiction to women by demanding the main characters of every story be female. She comments in the beginning of one of the much later anthologies that the quality of story she got shot up sharply after the first couple of editions when it became apparent there was a real market there, and I’d argue now that this series of anthologies is one of the strongest and best draws for women into fantasy fiction as well as a huge influence on the quality of writing and women’s roles in stories as well.

    I’ve often wished the same would show up for SciFi as a genre and for other minority groups as a focus. I worry it will take someone of color reaching the level Bradley achieved before it happens, though.

    It came as a real shock to me a few months back when I realized that all of my favorite stories centered around pale skinned people, and in one case there wasn’t a race on the planet that could get darker than tan. What triggered that realization, I think, was reading about Ursula Le Guin and her experience after signing off on the Earthsea movie thing; not only did they gut the plot, but all of the characters’ skin tone took an abrupt dive toward pale and their hair deperately clutched at blond. And to add insult to injury, the producers claimed she was pleased with this. While she made a point of most of the characters being dark skinned (and none of them blond) in her books, on the screen it would have been impossible for anyone to avoid the realisation of the skin tones of th world she built, and this sent the Executives screaming for alterations.

    The deck is stacked in sincerely not pretty ways.

    One thought I have is wondering if there are influential writers/editors that are believed to have some sympathy for racial issues who might be petitioned for an anthology of POC stories. It doesn’t strike me as much different from Bradley’s demand for just women protagonists, and if enough readers indicate their interest, a savvy editor/writer might be willing to jump on that bandwagon and try it out.

  2. These is a pretty high profile series of anthologies where all the writers are folks of the African Diaspora – Dark Matter. First one here, second one here. Then there’s Dark Dreams, which is horror by black authors. Those are the ones I know off hand.

    Dark Matter proves that there are many talented black writers of SF out there and that there’s a market for the fiction they write. the first one contains one of my favorite stories: The Space Traders. The story broke my heart because it speaks so much truth, and that truth is not pretty. for weeks after reading it I had a stone in my chest.

  3. This is something I’ve struggled with years. I love fantasy and horror. But I do feel that it is a harder field to break into when you fiction reflects nonmainstream existences (black, queer). A lot of people think that Chip Delany or Octavia Butler negates our claims. But it’s what I call the Exceptional Other or Oprah effect. (The Oprah effect is, since Oprah is a rich, powerful woman, racism must be gone! In SF, the myth goes that Chip’s and Octavia’s successes prove that racial bias isn’t an issue–since you don’t want to have *too* many black authors. One is enough!)

  4. Thank you for the links; I hadn’t heard of these (which is probably an indication of the problem). I’ll have to pick them up; I love anthologies.

  5. Another problem with the excuse you mentioned is that it assumes an objective best.

    I mean, it’s like the conversation on affirmative action. A) people won’t acknowledge their own internal biases, and B) people have an enduring feeling that “the best qualified [candidate/story] will be [will be by] a white man” — otherwise the “we just have to pick the best” line wouldn’t work.

  6. Waiting with bated breath to see the discussion and stats on this, but I can’t deny a certain jadedness; I suspect you won’t get stats, but instead a resounding and telltale silence. The SF world is only just now facing its *sexism*, forty years after the Sexual Revolution, and that’s only because women have reached a critical enough mass in the field to force the issue.

    Still… women reached that critical mass because some of the vanguards started talking about it. So although I doubt this post will get the response you’re hoping for, I think it will have the *effect* you’re hoping for, which is to raise awareness and maybe, slowly, in whispers on the fringes, get people talking about the issue. The vanguards like Octavia and Chip have been doing that for years, but they’ve just been so very, very few. Now, though, the generation inspired by their efforts is coming of age, and *we’re* talking too. Maybe next generation we’ll hit critical mass.

    (Ohcrap, that means I need to have some kids… =P)

  7. Oh — adding a mention: So Long Been Dreaming (a review) is a themed anthology along the lines of what I was suggesting — stories of “postcolonial” fiction, i.e., stories that look at a common SF theme, colonization, from the perspective of the colonized. Not surprisingly, most of the writers are people of color, and also not surprisingly, the stories are a refreshing take on a very tired old theme. Just goes to show you don’t have to have “the black issue” or “the chick issue” of Random SF ‘Zine.

  8. SF/Fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read and write about, but it’s for this exact reason that it also turns me off. I’ll definitely check out those anthologies, though!

  9. [...] The Angry Black Woman at her personal blog discusses How to Promote Diversity in Fiction Markets focusing on such issues as the dichotomy between when editors say they want diversity and the ways [...]

  10. [...] – How To Promote Diversity in Fiction Markets “Why isn’t the slushpile more diverse? There are several factors, some of which have [...]

  11. The encouraging thing is that, in terms of submissions, the acceptance rate is about the same for women as it is for men. Which shows that, *if* women were to submit an equal amount fo fiction, we’d probably see an equal amount of women to men getting published.

    But the discouraging thing is that without a major push from both ends – writers and publishers – we won’t see that equality any time soon.

    I wish someone could convince publishers that a representative marketplace is something they need to help try to create.

  12. Good stuff in here, especially about how to encourage more diversity — that’s a difficult problem to tackle, and requires breaking a lot of our usual habits of thought.

    I’m not an editor, so I don’t have any leverage from that angle. I do try to leverage my writing angle where possible; you’ve made me realize that I need to go check one of my newest stories to see if I point out anywhere that the characters all have dark skin and black hair. I mean, I know that’s what they look like, but I may have forgotten to point it out to the reader. (The trick will be figuring out how to convey it gracefully; 90% of what I write is in secondary worlds, so I can’t rely on recognized foreign names or ethnic terms to notify the reader that the characters aren’t white. Nor are the characters likely to reflect on their appearances, any more than I tend to reflect on the white skin of my friends.)

    Anyway, huzzah. I’m an anthropologist, so wrt diversity, I say preach on.

  13. This is a great article, and you really explained the problem well. As reasonable as it sounds on the surface, one can’t just say “The winner is whoever earnestly crosses the finish line first” when we’re not all at the same starting point.

    I also think sometimes color, class, gender and other privileges can blind someone to quality writing that doesn’t match their life experience. To them it can seem implausible when in truth they have no idea – unless the book carefully spoonfeeds it to them, which is an added burden non-white, non-male authors face – what people do in circumstances other than their own.

  14. Very small fish, here, but even though I’m white I often build my stories around black characters. This is not because I’m very trendy and politically astute, but because 26 years ago I fell in love with (and 25 years ago married) a woman who happens to be black. We have three proudly biracial children and friends on both sides of the color line. One thing I learned early on in our marriage — and relearn constantly — is just about everything I learned about American culture as a child was wrong. Or at least seriously skewed. I try, in a very small way, to address that in my writing.

    All of my writing sales to date have been media tie-in. I’m a little restricted when it comes to stories set in the Star Trek or Doctor Who IPs — but the bulk of my stories are in game universes (Classic BattleTech, MechWarrior, etc.) and there I have a little more leeway. Actually, I’ve developed something of a reputation for writing black characters — to the point that a character in one of my stories who was clearly identified as blonde was black in the illustration. (Reverse: A character described as dark complected with her hair in corn rows came out blonde — but in that case the artist was German, lived in Germany and read “corn row” to mean “corn colored.”)

    Which speaks to my point — and I do have one. People write (or draw) what they know. I can now write an authentically black character only because I’ve spent the last two decades as part of a black family, a member of a black church and have generally reached the point where people don’t watch what they say about white folk when I’m around — and don’t blink when I use ‘white folk’ in everyday conversation. White editors can ask white writers to feature more ethnically diverse characters, but the cultural accuracy of the characters they write… Well, let’s just say I cringe at some of what I believed 25 years ago. So I wonder: If white writers try to build black characters and get it wrong, do they get points for trying or a swift kick for not knowing what they’re writing about? How much of a learning curve do you allow?

    Personally, from some of the work I saw when teaching writing in the community college many years ago, I’m all in favor of major (and minor) markets mounting an aggressive recruiting program to bring the works of non-traditional writers into the mainstream.

    — KeVin

  15. I’m just a lowly slushmonkey at The Town Drunk, and I can say:

    a) I don’t give a f&*^ who the writer is — half the time I don’t even look at the name before I start reading — I’m just looking for a good story (and in our case, humorous). If it features a black, gay vampire battling a Hispanic, transgender zombie, and it’s funny and well written, chances approach 100% it gets kicked up the line.
    b) I completely disagree that it’s the editor’s job to reach out to “unconventional” writers — it is the job of the writer to hit up Duotrope or Ralan to find places to send their story. Sorry, no special treatment for anyone. I know, for example, that the editor of my magazine has a full time job, a husband, makes her own attempts to write, and I imagine she enjoy some kind of social life. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for finding non-male, non-white authors to submit. (Oh, and 3 of our last 8 stories were written by women).
    c)Publish stories that reflect a true balance (but don’t lower your standards to do so). Nice idea, but not to implementable in my mind. I know at least 95% of the slush I read isn’t fit for publishing in a high school literary mag, which isn’t unusual, but the ethnicity of a character means squat to me — once again, good stories get kicked up, the rest go straight to the round file.

    It seems that the only way to really “fix” this problem is at the grassroots level. How many kids in inner city America even know about science fiction literature? I doubt many. Hell, with the inadequacies in our education system, a lot of black kids don’t even get a good education — how are they supposed to grow up to be speculative fiction wordsmiths? Is it fair? Nope. Is there anything an editor can do? I can’t think of anything. This is a cultural issue (US culture, that is), and I don’t see how Gordon van Gelder or Brit Marshalk (my editor) can do anything, short of volunteering to teach poor kids (be they brown, white, black, or polka dotted) how to appreciate literature.

    So instead of railing against editors, start collecting speculative literature for inner city school libraries and wait a while — chances are, some of those kids are going to grow up to write specfic. As it stands, the majority of people who read science fiction are white dudes. I ride the bus, which is a good microcosm for poor/minority folks, and I see very few people even reading books. I don’t recall ever seeing any nonwhite person reading speculative fiction, and if someone has a book, I try to see what they’re reading.

    Oh, and I don’t think that being a white male writer has helped me get published anywhere — all 5 of my sales have come through years of hard work and honing my craft. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to encourage anyone to get there through any other route. I’m poor, I work hard to frickin’ survive, and I give up a lot to write.

    Anyone else is welcome to follow me into the fray, and if they submit a good story and I slush it, they’ll get love. If they submit crap, they get a rejection. Simple as that.

  16. [...] week that I’ve seen widely linked, but which I want to give as much attention as possible: “How to Promote Diversity in Fiction Markets.”  At the end, she sums it up [...]

  17. Dear David Reagan,

    No, it’s not as simple as that. That you’re unwilling to consider any of my points valid shows that you’re unwilling to consider that you might be wrong. And as such, you’ll always remain a lowly slush reader.

    Love,
    ABW

  18. OMG, what, are you in high school?

    Your response makes no sense — according to your arguments, as a white man, I’m the one most likely to find success in the field.

    So which is it?

    And do you reject my hypothesis that nonwhite kids should be encouraged to read more specfic so that they’ll grow up to submit in the genre? Or should we introduce affirmative action into writing — well, it’s a crappy story, the opening five pages are irrelevant infodump, but hey, the writer ain’t white, so let’s publish it. That should be good for readership. I need Visine from all the eye rolling I’m doing over hear.

    Make sure a wide range of people know that your magazine accepts unsolicited submissions by reaching out and posting notifications in venues frequented by non-white and non-male individuals.

    Care to name a few? Solutions are good, bitching, moaning and groaning is so old and accomplishes very little. I didn’t realize there were market listings that catered to non-white, non-male writers.

    Put your money where your mouth is. Publish more stories by established authors that feature non-default people and non-default settings so that newer authors (and readers) will see your market as open to diverse views and ideas.

    If we get ‘em, and they’re good, I already said I’d forward them. So once again, provide an answer — how do you make these subs magically appear?

    Oh, wait, dialogue is wasted breath in these situations. It’s like trying to talk politics — anyone who disagrees with you is a poopoo head, and only your take on the matter is valid.

    Agree? Disagree? Bring it on.

    You should probably rewrite the last line of your post to read, “Agree — right on. Disagree — your opinion is worthless and you’re a (insert derogatory comment). Bring it on, but only if you think I’m correct in what I’ve said.”

    Love, kisses, and TANSTAAFL,
    David
    (aka Lowly Slushmonkey and hard-working writer paying my dues)

  19. And do you reject my hypothesis that nonwhite kids should be encouraged to read more specfic so that they’ll grow up to submit in the genre? Or should we introduce affirmative action into writing — well, it’s a crappy story, the opening five pages are irrelevant infodump, but hey, the writer ain’t white, so let’s publish it. That should be good for readership. I need Visine from all the eye rolling I’m doing over hear.

    Why would nonwhite kids want to read books about a future where most of the main characters don’t even look like them? That is the problem. And the fact that you automatically assume that opening the field for more nonwhite authors would lead to “crappy stories” and “irrelevant infodump” shows that you are a racist slushmonkey.

    I didn’t realize there were market listings that catered to non-white, non-male writers.

    Did you even bother to check? Look, I may have the wrong lead since I’m not in the business, but at least I do know about Black Issues Book Review.

    So once again, provide an answer — how do you make these subs magically appear?

    Try doing your damn homework and not alienating your audience.

  20. Disagreement is always welcome, David. But we do require people who disagree to make much more sense than you did. We also appreciate polite disagreement rather than strident whining and typical white male patriarchal intimidation bullshit similar to your display. However, if you’d like a more thoughtful response to you, I will give one.

    a) I don’t give a f&*^ who the writer is — half the time I don’t even look at the name before I start reading — I’m just looking for a good story (and in our case, humorous). If it features a black, gay vampire battling a Hispanic, transgender zombie, and it’s funny and well written, chances approach 100% it gets kicked up the line.

    One of the reasons I dismissed you as quickly as I did is that it seemed obvious right from the start that you didn’t read the damn post. Or, at least, you didn’t read it carefully or you read it through the red lens of “OMG this woman is trying to take away my white privilege I had better set her straight!” So, for your benefit, I will repeat myself: This. Is. Not. A Valid. Argument. If the editors and publishers of the magazine you slush for are not doing what they can to make the slushpile is more diverse, then you’ll end up publishing a bunch of white men BY DEFAULT. And by default is no longer acceptable.

    Do you understand? No. Longer. Acceptable.

    b) I completely disagree that it’s the editor’s job to reach out to “unconventional” writers — it is the job of the writer to hit up Duotrope or Ralan to find places to send their story.

    Also: No. And again, I addressed this. You should probably go back and re-read my post. Not everybody knows about Ralan or Duotrope. All writers everywhere do not have access to the same resources. If you cannot/will not acknowledge or address this, then you’re already lost. And if you don’t think it’s the job of those who run the magazine to reach out to potential writers, then you’re still lost. There’s no hope for you and no point in talking to you.

    Sorry, no special treatment for anyone.

    I don’t recall anywhere asking for special treatment. Your reading skills really, really suck.

    I know, for example, that the editor of my magazine has a full time job, a husband, makes her own attempts to write, and I imagine she enjoy some kind of social life. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for finding non-male, non-white authors to submit.

    That’s the stupidest thing you’ve said yet. It’s as if this person you speak of runs their magazine like a boring hobby. “Oh, I don’t have time to make my magazine better, I’m too busy drinking!” Jesus, I hope she’s not like that.

    There are plenty of editors in the field that don’t edit as their full-time job. A great example that comes to mind is Strange Horizons. All of those editors have other full-time jobs, school, marriages, possibly children, and even other editorial projects. Yet they still find the time to attract and publish a diverse range of writers. They aren’t the only ones.

    c)Publish stories that reflect a true balance (but don’t lower your standards to do so). Nice idea, but not to implementable in my mind.

    Then, I’m sorry to say this, but you’re either stupid or lazy or both. Did you miss the section of this post where I said that I was a slush reader, too? Do you not get that I understand that a lot of slush is not publishable? And yet somehow I still understand that this can totally be done. It’s a really, really simple process: Encourage a diverse range of writers to submit to you. The law of averages says that some percentage of those stories will be good enough to publish. If you have 50% women writers and 50% black writers and 50% any other kind of minority writer you can think of in the slush pile, then there a good chance that, of the publishable stories, about 50% of them will be from said groups.

    Even more simple than that. I know about eleventy billion fantastic writers. If I started a magazine today and I set out to publish 25% black writers, 45% women writers, and 15% writers from countries other than the US, I wouldn’t have to do anything more than invite the writers that I know – some of whom not only publish in major markets, including the big three, but some of which have won major awards – and ask them to recommend some writer friends of theirs. I could fill the magazine month after month with these folks if I wanted to. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard for any other editor to do the same damn thing. The talent is there, it’s just not being tapped for whatever reason. But the whole reason is not that minority and women writers are writing crap and white male writers aren’t. (By the way, that’s what you implied.)

    It seems that the only way to really “fix” this problem is at the grassroots level.

    And once again you are wrong. The grassroots level stuff you mention is definitely a good step. I have nothing against getting non-white non-male young people more interested in reading and writing SF. Get more minority writers writing and submitting, then the level will rise, no doubt. However, as a writer of color, I find it hard to believe that SF markets WANT my voice because I don’t ever see it represented. This is not a one side or the other problem here. It’s not solely the problem of those who write and not solely the problem of those who publish. The problem is on both sides, and we cannot address one side of the equation without addressing the other.

    So instead of railing against editors,

    actually, I haven’t railed against editors at all. I find it funny how any time black people address issues of race white people often see it as an attack.

    start collecting speculative literature for inner city school libraries and wait a while

    No, I will not wait a while. There’s no reason to wait a while. There are plenty of writers writing right now who are female and/or minority that look at SF markets, see nothing but Whitey McWhite, and say “I don’t think so.” There are plenty of markets out there that continue to publish Whitey McWhite even though we’ve seen so much damn White McWhite we don’t even have to name him properly. I’ve laid out five steps editors can take to encourage more diversity. Ball’s in their court.

    Oh, and I don’t think that being a white male writer has helped me get published anywhere

    Of course you don’t. You’re white. Go read this post, then come back and talk to me about this.

  21. Angel H:

    Try doing your damn homework and not alienating your audience.

    Yeah, I was just thinking I would have to consider very carefully before sending anything to The Town Drunk based on this little exchange. I certainly don’t have any inclination to read it.

  22. ABW: The good thing about his ranting is that if anyone should happen to google “The Town Drunk”, they might come across this exchange, and maybe they’d think twice about sending anything to them, too.

    Hmm…I wonder how his editor would feel about that?

  23. David Reagan above makes the same argument (at greater length) that Ian Randal Strock does here at Sean Wallace’s LJ. Speaking for myself as a middle-class white-boy journalist-turned-SF-pro, I would constructively invite him to read my response there.

  24. Angel,

    Why would nonwhite kids want to read books about a future where most of the main characters don’t even look like them? That is the problem. And the fact that you automatically assume that opening the field for more nonwhite authors would lead to “crappy stories” and “irrelevant infodump” shows that you are a racist slushmonkey.

    Angel, way to misread me. I didn’t say that nonwhite authors are any crappier than white authors. Once again, good stories talk, shitty stories walk. And have you read anything in the field, because I can assure you, thinking that everything published in the specfic world features a bunch of white guys is silly and uninformed.

    And I don’t appreciate being called a racist, because it simply isn’t true. My last two roommates were a gay black dude and a girl from India, so shove it up your (insert orifice here). I’ve lived with people of both sexes, blacks, whites, a Columbian, a guy with a Hispanic father and white mother, and have/had friends that fit into every category of humanity.

    But hey, I’m a honky with a dick, so I must be a racist. Wait a second, isn’t that kind of thinking nothing more than racism?

    TO REPEAT: I don’t care what a protagonist’s color/sex/sexual orientation is, nor the author’s. If the story is good and fits our mission statement of publishing humorous stories, I pass it up the line (to our female, nonwhite editor/successful writer who is a member of SFWA).

    Did you even bother to check? Look, I may have the wrong lead since I’m not in the business, but at least I do know about Black Issues Book Review.

    You do have the wrong lead, and not being in the business, I don’t really see how you can enter the conversation with anything more meaningful than name calling. The Black Issues Book Review is not a website dedicated to market listings. Once again, I ask for links to websites that list markets and are designed for nonwhite, nonmale authors. C’mon, put your money where your mouth is, and if Town Drunk isn’t listed there, I will immediately contact my editor and request that she submit our contact info.

    So once again, provide an answer — how do you make these subs magically appear?

    Try doing your damn homework and not alienating your audience.

    This makes no sense, and certainly doesn’t answer my question. You aren’t part of the field, so how much “homework” have you done on the subject? I’ve done quite a bit.

    ABW, you say, Not everybody knows about Ralan or Duotrope.

    So why aren’t you spreading the word? You mention neither in your post. I’ve done more in my response to encourage people to submit than you have, by at least telling them where to look.

    Besides, in the specfic world, these are the two big market listing websites, and if someone can’t take the time to find them, what am I supposed to do? Neither site has anything saying “you must be white and male to use these resources”. If someone doesn’t have access to the internet at home, their local public library almost certainly does.

    It is always the job of the writer to make the effort — not the editors. That’s the nature of the business, in my experience. A lot of your post reads like a newbie writer’s whining — why won’t those evil editors buy my brilliant work? It isn’t fair, boohoo. The only way to succeed in this business is through hard work and dedication to the craft. Nothing is going to change my mind about that, especially when I see so many women having more success than me because they’ve been at it longer, have collected their rejections, honed their writing, or just simply have more talent than me.

    Even more simple than that. I know about eleventy billion fantastic writers. If I started a magazine today and I set out to publish 25% black writers, 45% women writers, and 15% writers from countries other than the US, I wouldn’t have to do anything more than invite the writers that I know – some of whom not only publish in major markets, including the big three, but some of which have won major awards – and ask them to recommend some writer friends of theirs. I could fill the magazine month after month with these folks if I wanted to. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard for any other editor to do the same damn thing. The talent is there, it’s just not being tapped for whatever reason. But the whole reason is not that minority and women writers are writing crap and white male writers aren’t. (By the way, that’s what you implied.)

    I did NOT imply nonwhite, nonmales can’t write, and your anger is preventing you from seeing that (not to mention that you’re contradicting yourself — you know these writers that are nm, nw that get published in THE BIG THREE, yet those markets are supposedly not open to writers that aren’t nm, nw — you’re talking in circles).

    I’m saying that I won’t give the thumbs up to a poorly written story because it happens to come from someone non-white/non-male, just as I won’t give thumbs up to a crappy story because it comes from a white dude.

    A suggestion — why not organize a slushbomb , or another slushbomb for The Town Drunk? Don’t whine and complain, take action! Flood our slushpile with kickass stories from nm, nw writers — please!

    As a slusher, that’s all I want — good stories. What about that is so hard to understand? (Oh, and as a side note, half of our slushers are women, and everything is read by at least two people, so it isn’t like I’m singlehandedly preventing awesome stories written by nm, nw from advancing to the later rounds of consideration).

    Yeah, I was just thinking I would have to consider very carefully before sending anything to The Town Drunk based on this little exchange. I certainly don’t have any inclination to read it.

    Sure, base your opinion of our mag on the words of one person — that’s a fair and open-minded philosophy. How can you say you don’t want to submit to us and imply that we’re a racist publication without ever having giving us a look-see? You know zero about our market, so how can you act like you know the sort of writers we publish, hmmm?

    It’s easy to cast aspersions and point fingers. It’s much harder to offer solutions and encouragement, to find common ground, and to forgive past transgressions. Anger is cheap, and generally it begets more anger, and in the end, solves very little.

    Insult me, call me names, act like you know exactly who I am, dismiss my opinions by saying I’m stupid or don’t know how to read because I disagree — it doesn’t matter, because you know nothing about who I am.

    So to any writers (not whiners) who are nonwhite and/or nonmale, send us a well written, humorous piece of specfic, and I promise, you will get a careful consideration. Just as I said in my first, second, and third post.

  25. Kevin,

    I understand your point, but it really shouldn’t take total immersion in black culture for a white writer to be able to write decent black people. We’re just not that damned complicated. What I think usually gets in the way is the first part of what you described — shedding the trappings of your privileged upbringing, and coming to realize where that privilege interferes with your perceptions of the nonwhites around you. If white writers could just do that much, I think it would make a world of difference.

  26. David,

    I called you a racist because based on what you’ve posted, you obviously are on. I don’t have many token nonwhite or LGBT friends you have, if it talks like a racist, then it’s a racist. The fact that you won’t get your heaad out of your ass and look beyond your own white male privilege proves my point.

    Angel, way to misread me. I didn’t say that nonwhite authors are any crappier than white authors.

    Your quote: “Or should we introduce affirmative action into writing — well, it’s a crappy story, the opening five pages are irrelevant infodump, but hey, the writer ain’t white, so let’s publish it.”

    Once again, good stories talk, shitty stories walk. And have you read anything in the field, because I can assure you, thinking that everything published in the specfic world features a bunch of white guys is silly and uninformed.

    Then prove it.

  27. Typo fix:

    I don’t have many token nonwhite or LGBT friends you have, if it talks like a racist, then it’s a racist.

    Should read:

    I don’t care how many token nonwhite or LGBT friends you have, if it talks like a racist, then it’s a racist.

  28. All right, David, since you’re obviously in an apoplexy of privilege here and can’t see beyond your own honkey dick, as you put it, I’ll say these final words to you:

    1 – You’ve committed at least three of the offences listed in How to Suppress Discussions of Racism, thereby invalidating much of what you have to say. It would be funny to watch you being cliched if it weren’t so sad. I would say that leads me to wonder how cliched your writing must be, but that would be unnecessarily mean.

    2 – I don’t think anyone is going to have anything to say to you until you do some reading and research. I suggest you follow the link that Stephen Segal just posted. if not to educate yourself, then to not make such a complete spectacle in front of a dude who works at a major publisher. After that, I suggest you look at the White Privilege post and well as the White Liberal Guilt post. (I really need to put together that Required Reading list….) After you’ve finished your assignment, we can continue this discussion. But this silly business of you sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming lalalalalalala you’re all TEH WRONGZ! isn’t really helping matters.

    3 – There is such a thing as professional behavior. If you go out in public and tell people you work for a magazine then proceed to show yourself as whiny, ignorant, and biased, then yeah, writers are totally going to form an opinion of the magazine from that. After all, you’re one of the gatekeepers. If the gatekeeper is a biased prig, then that does bode well for what’s on the other side of the gate. If you’re going to represent for The Town Drunk in public (which you did by saying you work there – you could have just said ‘i read slush for a magazine’), then you can’t back away from the responsibility of affecting people’s opinions of it. hell, folks have been fired for making an ass of themselves on the internet while proclaiming ‘I work for X publisher.’

    4 – No one wants to slush bomb The Town Drunk. Slush bombs are usually for markets with a higher profile than that.

    5 – Yes, the only reason i spend time out of my day to educate ignorant fools like you is because I’m a newbie whose work is always rejected. Next time i talk to my editor I’ll be sure to pass that bit of info along.

  29. David,

    And have you read anything in the field, because I can assure you, thinking that everything published in the specfic world features a bunch of white guys is silly and uninformed.

    *I’ve* read quite a bit in the field. I’ve published quite a bit in the field. So I can authoritatively say the vast, disproportionate majority of stuff published in the field *does* feature a bunch of white guys. Despite your attempt to power-play Angel, though, I should point out that you don’t need to be an expert on SF to realize this. All you need to do is walk into any bookstore’s spec fic section and look at the covers. Or if you’d rather not judge books by their covers, read the first ten in the “A” part of the alphabet. Or watch the top 10 SF TV shows, or walk into an SF con… pick any objective measure you can think of. If you notice the overwhelming whiteness of it all and you still insist that nothing needs to be done to correct the perception that SF is uninterested in anything but the tales of white people, then there’s no point in continuing the conversation. You’re living in a dreamworld. Come back when you wake up.

    Since you drew such illogical conclusions from ABW’s post here, I’m hesitant to recommend this one, in which I address the way that SF is justifiably perceived among people of color. Do you really imagine the problem is simply poverty and poor education? You really think sticking more predominantly-white SF in school libraries will work any better now than it has for the past 40 years? There is a huge and flourishing community of professional black writers these days, many of whom are selling better than the top SF writers, and somehow they’re managing to do it in spite of their terrible educations and manifest poverty. They’re publishing romance and thrillers and mysteries and of course, literary mainstream fic. But one of the few things they aren’t publishing — not beyond a token handful — is spec fic. Why do *you* think that is?

    And quite frankly, why are you surprised that nonwhite writers would make assumptions about a market based on the racist* comments of one slushreader? It makes perfect sense to me. Markets employ slushreaders who, ostensibly, share similar tastes, beliefs, and interests when it comes to fiction. If they’ve employed someone like you, who thinks that trying to diversify SF is “special treatment”, then why wouldn’t I, if I were a newbie, assume there might be others in the TD stable with the same beliefs? Why would I waste my effort submitting to a market like that?

    As someone who is deep in the genre, I’m fortunate in knowing two of your market’s editors (and one’s a white male! In fact, I talk to white males all the time! See, I can’t possibly be racist!), which means I’m less likely to take your offensive comments as an example of the whole staff. But a true newbie author would not have that insider knowledge. A true newbie would read the stories in the magazine, and notice that few of them contain characters of color. That newbie, if she had written a story that did contain characters of color, would wonder whether her story was welcome. Considering that newbie’s exposure to most of SF — which is painfully undiverse — that newbie might worry that her work has no chance. This isn’t what your audience wants to read; it’s obviously not what the editors are looking for; it’s too much of an anomaly. Every writer does this to some degree — a slipstream writer reads an issue of Analog and decides it’s hopeless, for example. A female writer (since you at least seem willing to acknowledge that sexism is a problem) notices that F&SF publishes pitifully few stories by unknown female authors, and decides that she’s not what they’re looking for. What you seem unwilling to understand is that writers of color do the same thing compounded by race and culture concerns. If a market isn’t welcoming, it shows in the writing — the stories tend not to feature PoCs, or if they do they’re frequently PoCs viewed through a white lens. (Lazy racist affirmative-action babies, perhaps.) The stories inevitably reflect this worldview. And if that market’s usual contents reflect predominantly that worldview, then there’s no reason a writer with a different worldview would think themselves welcome.

    *Yes, racist. And cliche racist at that. We’ve got the reverse racism cliche: poor, lazy, crappy female and PoC writers are trying to get something for free that you, as a hardworking excellent white male writer, have earned! (You may not have meant to imply that, but you did.) And we’ve also got the “I’m not racist, my [insert acquaintance] is black!” cliche. Then we get the “black people can be racist too!” cliche, which isn’t so much a cliche as just a complete misunderstanding of how racism really works.

  30. Also, I am wondering: why is it that any time I or anyone else points out that SF magazines publish mostly white male authors someone always runs in and says “Those magazines don’t NOT publish women/WoC!” No one is saying that. No. One. That has never been my argument and that has never been the argument of any person I have ever known. It’s not that SF magazines don’t publish women/WoC at all, it’s that they disproportionately publish white men when there are plenty of stories by and about women and non-white people. Why don’t these people get that point?

    Also, why is it that they don’t get that no one is saying that editors should accept stories because they are written by women/WoC? Please, someone, point to anywhere in this post or anywhere on the Internet where anyone is saying that. Not just vague handwaving, I want quotes and links and citations.

    I don’t understand how people can live in this world without basic reading comprehension skills.

  31. If a market isn’t welcoming, it shows in the writing — the stories tend not to feature PoCs, or if they do they’re frequently PoCs viewed through a white lens.

    Part of my point, Nora. Sometimes the PoC are viewed through a white lens because that’s the only lens the white writer has available. Thus even a sincere effort starting from the wrong place is going to come out wrong.

    it really shouldn’t take total immersion in black culture for a white writer to be able to write decent black people. We’re just not that damned complicated. What I think usually gets in the way is the first part of what you described — shedding the trappings of your privileged upbringing, and coming to realize where that privilege interferes with your perceptions of the nonwhites around you. If white writers could just do that much, I think it would make a world of difference.

    Total immersion? No. Access? Yes. In many cases there is a fundamental disconnect between black people’s behaviors in the presence of white folks and their behavior when no whites are in sight. I know men in my own generation and a bit older who are articulate and confident in the company of their own people but stepandfetchit in a heartbeat when dealing with whites, because that’s how they learned to get by here in the south. Our son has friends who thug only in the presence of whites. (Usually in the presence of white females because for some reason appearing dangerous is a better pick-up technique than mentioning your political science major or three-point-five gpa.) We know a couple of families who have encouraged their children to attend HBCs so they can focus on their education without having to put up with the annoyance and/or pressure of having to deal with whites.

    Most people are just people. Like you said, not that damned complicated. But if our only interactions with a group of people different from our own have been distorted — for whatever reason — then our ability as storytellers to depict individuals of that culture accurately is severely limited.

    I really don’t want to belabor this point (he said after belaboring the point). Compared to so many issues folks cope with, this is beneath trivial. But it’s something I often have before me. In the last quarter century I’ve had hundreds of sincere efforts in dozens of social situations denounced as racist or dismissed as hollow gestures. In part, this has been due to my own social ineptitude — but it is just as likely to be function of assumptions on the part of the observer.
    It’s very tempting to quit trying.

  32. Hey, ABW (for this site, at least…)

    I’ve got a proposition for ya. You know me, more or less, you’ve actually seen my poor pale self in the doughy flesh at WFC, and we’ve shared a ToC recently (woo!), so at least you know I’m not a nutjob. (Well, not obviously one, anyway.)

    Part of the problem you’re describing, if I haven’t misread, is with the face of specfic itself — in other words, not only are nwnm writers not getting published in fair representation, but the white boys don’t try to write with diversity, either. So that a large proportion of the stories in the major venues appear very pale, indeed…

    Well, I recently wrote a story with a black female protagonist (for a market that subsequently died). One of the earlier comments made was that it doesn’t take much for a white author to write about a non-white character, because we’re not so different. I agree.

    My deal is this: get in contact with me (you should know my e-mail addy from this post, or you can just shout at my lj) and I will send you said story to peruse. Since the story is not yet published, I will also allow you to use me as your whipping boy, pointing out any instances in the story — here on this site, for the enlightenment of others (without actually putting the story up, natch)– in which I have failed miserably to present a fair portrait of a character of color. (Which is not to say that she’s necessarily a good person — it’s a horror story, of sorts — but that she’s well-presented in the constraints of the story itself.)

    Do I have a taker?

  33. Part of my point, Nora. Sometimes the PoC are viewed through a white lens because that’s the only lens the white writer has available. Thus even a sincere effort starting from the wrong place is going to come out wrong.

    I should’ve specified — what I meant was white privileged lens. There’s nothing wrong with the white lens in and of itself. The problem is that whiteness, like every other racial grouping, comes with baggage attached. Some of that baggage is tasteful and attractive. But one of those bags is this garish, faux-Hawaiian-print monstrosity of a suitcase, with gold wheels that don’t spin well and a lock the size of Texas and stickers from a million cheesy tourist locations and… well, okay, I’m beating a dead metaphor. The point is, the white lens does not have to be a privileged lens. The two are not synonymous. White writers can write black characters from a white perspective and do it well — I’ve seen it done, though not often enough — and I just don’t believe it requires close proximity to and careful study of the black people in your life. I think you mostly need to study yourself.

    On this site I’ve seen plenty of white people who get it. There are lots of them out there. Unfortunately not very many of them write SF. (Which makes me wonder whether SF’s lily white image is just as repulsive to white people who get it as it is to people of color.)

  34. I don’t know whether I ‘get it’ or not, but I am white, and I do write SF. I’d be very interested to see a critique of the sort that Mikal is suggesting.

  35. Hi Mikal,

    Your assessment of some of the points I’m trying to make is correct. It would make me happy to not only see a more diverse range of authors but a more diverse range of characters written by authors of any background. Provided they do actually create real non-white characters and not just white people with different color skin. I think it’s great that you’ve written a story with a black female protagonist. Good luck in the publication hunt! However, I feel I need to decline your offer to use it as a teaching tool, as it were.

    For one thing, I don’t know if my doing such a thing would actually be valuable. There is no one right way to write a black character and any suggestions or notes I might have would be specific to your story. Sure, there could be a point or two that would be general enough to benefit someone else, but overall not so much. If you’re truly worried about whether you’ve created a convincing black female character, then you should bring that up with your beta readers.

    Sidenote – It would behoove every writer to find a group of beta readers/workshoppers that includes people from diverse backgrounds, races, genders, etc. Even if you have not ever written a character that wasn’t mostly like you, these other readers/writers may encourage you to stretch yourself more. Plus, it’s just a good idea to know a wide range of people you can tap for advice and help and such. The More You Know, kids. The more you know.

    Another reason I am not comfortable with this suggestion is that it sounds very much like you’re asking me to be an Official Black Person(tm) here. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have been asked to be an Official Black Person in my life and it’s never made me feel particularly good. Of course there have been times when a writer friend, unsure of their ability to capture the nuances of a character that is an ‘other’, has asked me to take a look at their story. The times I’ve said yes I did so because I did not feel that the writer was just looking for Black Person Validation but because they had a real desire to create a believable character. I don’t feel that you’re just looking for BPV, but since you’ve asked me in the context of this post and want me to provide commentary in public, it feels more like an exercise than one friend asking another for a favor.

    I cannot be the Official Black Person(tm). It’s really not possible. Whatever I have to say about this character of yours will not and cannot be the Official Opinion of Blacks. This kind of thinking (and I mean this in general, not necessarily in your case) is what leads people to make statements like “My friend Jamal says I’m not a racist, so I must not be.” As if Jamal (a) would actually tell this person if they were racist or not and (b) Jamal is the arbiter of all things to do with race.

    That’s not to say that any view I have is only held by me and not by any other black person on the planet. But I wouldn’t want anyone to say, “Well, the ABW says this is exactly how a black women would react to zombies bursting in her house!” or whatever.

    When I first read your comment I thought, maybe I should write a post on how white males can go about writing non-white and non-male characters. Then I smacked myself for forgetting that Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward already did that in their excellent book Writing the Other. If you or anyone else reading here is truly interested in creating characters that do not share your gender, race, culture, class, or any other part of your background and don’t know how to begin doing so, buy that book. It’s not a magic pill or anything, but it’s an excellent place to start.

    Lastly, I realize that one of the reasons you popped over here is because David was whining about me in his LJ and you thought, as a friend connection between the two of us, you could offer some way to make ‘peace’, as you put it. And some people (your friend included) seem to think that I’m ‘not doing anything’ to address the problems I bring up in this post. I guess you felt that my giving notes on your character would be ‘doing something’. While your intention was good, I think you (and he) miss the point.

    I am doing something to address this problem. For one thing, I am talking about it. I don’t see a lot of other people talking about it. If no one talks about it, how is anything supposed to get done? If no one brings it up to clueless people, how can they know there is a problem? The one thing that people, particularly white men, do not get is that these problems are not self-evident to them. However, just because they are not self-evident does not mean that they aren’t a problem. That’s the crux of it. White people (in general) do not see a problem and assume, because they do not grok it, it doesn’t exist. The day they all start to get that the reason they don’t see the problem is because they are trained by culture, by society, by the media, by your parents, not to see these problems. Therefore, I am actively attempting to bring things to people’s attention that they did not see before. If you still call that ‘not doing anything’, then I can’t help you.

    Mikal, if you continue to write characters that aren’t just like you, then you’re ‘doing something’ as well. Good on ya. If all the people who’ve come here to discuss this issue keep doing so not only here, but on other blogs, in other venues, at cons, in person, wherever, they are ‘doing something’ as well. Creating and furthering dialogue is Something. If it wasn’t, then writing stories is one huge Nothing and we should all stop doing it.

  36. AWB — (and I’d rather call you by your name, but I understand you wanting to keep distance between your cyber-selves) —

    Fair enough. I would like to correct some small things here, though:

    1) I don’t consider you a spokesperson for All Things Black. I consider you someone who takes the time to publish this blog because the topic is important to you.

    2) I have a crack team of first-readers. Award-winning first readers in several cases, in fact. And you have been a slush-reader for venue(s) I’ve sold to. If my first readers had told me there were major problems with the story in question (including anything dealing with the whole race issue), I would have either fixed the problem or killed the story. I might be willing to have a story examined here with a tightly-focused critical eye, but I ain’t stupid — I wouldn’t want to be *totally* embarrassed online… ;)

    3) You can drop the “I’m here because of David” line right now. I’m here because I followed a link and became interested in the conversation. Since you’ve obviously checked my post on his lj, you should be able to tell that if I was mollifying anyone, it was him. Nothing in my post indicated that I was trying to back him up with my appearance here. I merely gave him a prop because I do know the man, and no matter what folks here drew from his posts, he is truly not someone you could get mad at if he’d said the same things to you personally, in a more clement environment than this. It is damnably hard to play the debate game online, no matter how much practice you have — without the benefit of face-to-face interaction, anything can be misconstrued. (As I suddenly realize this point might be…sheesh!)

    4) I never said you weren’t doing anything to address the problem. Please don’t lump my comments in with those of another.

    5) And Te…er, ABW, I asked you to consider the idea of playing critter for this story for no other reason than the reason you have this blog in the first place — to encourage debate and interest in the whole idea of diversity. I’m sorry if you think I have a hidden agenda — I don’t. I also disagree, though, that you can’t act as a voice for nwnm writers by doing it.

    You may not want to be THE voice, but due to your committment to this blog and the comments made on it, you are most certainly A voice.

    And there aren’t all that many voices out there these days, ma’am.

    Mikal

  37. Thanks for the “Writing the Other” link. Very useful.

    And good job dodging the OBP(tm) bullet — though I think you’d be a snazzy one. Early in our relationship my then-not-yet-wife Valerie refused to vette my writing for me on the grounds that she’s only one person, not a class of people. One of several indicators that I was marrying a wise woman.

    What might be helpful — and this is not something I’m suggesting you undertake, I’m just throwing ideas into the ether. A brainpartlycloudy, if you will. What might be helpful to writers sincerely trying to capture true diversity in their work would be a site where published works are discussed or rated or reviewed or somehow scored on whether or not the writer captured what she set out to capture. Obviously different commenters would have different, equally valid, takes on the same works. I have NO idea how anything like that would work. But I know I would be a frequent visitor.

    Oh, and your mention of Live Journal reminded me that I wrote about this very thing — writing diversity — last July. Well, I didn’t remember it was last July, that part took a bit of spelunkiing. Very light weight compared to the discussion here, but after spending long minutes looking for it, I had to put up the link.

  38. ABW, can you spot writers of color just by reading their stories? I won’t be surprised if you tell me you can. Thing is, I know it takes white editors a while to spot writers of color, assuming they spot them at all.

    I know Beth Meacham has fought to keep black characters from bleaching out in the cover art.

    I’m not saying the shortage of blacks in SF isn’t our problem too; it surely is. (BTW: Steve Barnes. Nalo Hopkinson. Toby Buckell.) In the meantime, there’s something readers can do: buy your books from black-owned bookstores, ideally ones that have clearly identifiable black names. And don’t just go there for specialty items. Any book you’re thinking of buying, check there first.

    Being able to see how much SF and fantasy got sold through gay bookstores made a world of difference in our ability to publish and openly market books with gay content.

  39. But… being embarrassed online is so much fun! I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to do it… :)

    I am sorry that I misunderstood/misconstrued your intentions in making your request (as it involves David). You’re right in that debating online always carries the danger of misunderstanding people because you don’t have the added layer of tone and personal context. I’m always willing to accept that I’ve not assessed a situation like this correctly. I did get that you didn’t intend to ‘back him up’ or anything. I don’t think you have a hidden agenda. And if the whole ‘doing something’ issue isn’t one you have, then I shall aim that paragraph more directly at those it’s for.

  40. Thanks, hot mama.

    (Oh, crap — I’m really in trouble for that one, right?) ;p

  41. Nora: (Which makes me wonder whether SF’s lily white image is just as repulsive to white people who get it as it is to people of color.)

    It took me years to notice it, but once I did…. yeah, it totally bugs me. Ironically, I had dark skinned characters long before I noticed very few other people did because of melanin; when I was making my species, I took melanin into account (something which apparently doesn’t exist on many planets, judging by skin tone) and ended up with entire, very influential and important, cultures with dark skin.

    I think of it whenever I read my favorite books, though, now. It’s hard not to. So many worlds have nothing darker than TAN. It’s idiotic.

  42. As a white woman, I can’t write a convincing family epic about contemporary black people, but I think I can write a decent story about a black space pilot of the year 2278.

    The tricky thing for me is to write characters of color who aren’t just white people in different skin & hair, but also not having them wrestling with the notion of difference, or what it means to be black/asian/etc. Not that POC don’t wrestle with the issue of race, but I can only see that struggle through the lens of liberal white angst, which doesn’t belong in a story about POC. So I do best when I write about prejudice using metaphorical means, and try very VERY hard to imagine POC living lives that aren’t about their relationship to white culture.

    It’s embarrasingly difficult to do that.

  43. hm, to clarify – I mean I try hard to imagine *my POC characters* living lives that aren’t about their relationship to white culture.

    Real people of color, I’m not that dumb about, since I have the benefit of having black and asian friends. But when the people in question live only in my head, they can tend to become an expression of my feelings about race.

  44. ABW, I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. I don’t see you as Official Black Person, but I can see how it might have come across that way.

  45. [...] light of all of this, The Angry Black Woman discussed diversity in fiction markets, specifically speculative fiction, and how to improve it. In both instances, two editors who differ [...]

  46. [...] Angry Black Woman gets heated discussions going in her comments about diversity in fiction markets. [...]

  47. This was an amazing post. Thank you so much for writing it. I read a lot of blogs by writers of sci fi and fantasy (ot–I started reading your blog not knowing that you were one such author) and whenever this topic comes up, of course, it’s always–if you’re good, you’ll get published, there’s no discrimination. And it really, really rubs me the wrong way. Thank you for articulating the flaws in that argument so clearly.

    Which makes me wonder whether SF’s lily white image is just as repulsive to white people who get it as it is to people of color.

    Speaking only for myself, I hate it. I still love sci fi and fantasy, but I try hard to find the good stuff. Meaning, you know, aware and socially responsible, not just written in the classical Asimovian style.

  48. David said:
    Is there anything an editor can do? I can’t think of anything. This is a cultural issue (US culture, that is), and I don’t see how Gordon van Gelder or Brit Marshalk (my editor) can do anything, short of volunteering to teach poor kids (be they brown, white, black, or polka dotted) how to appreciate literature.

    Well, and why not do that, then?

    When I started undergrad at my alma mater, the male to female ratio, particularly in the more technical disciplines, was heavily skewed towards men. (I think it was 5:2 university-wide my freshman year, and about 10:1 in the engineering & computer science colleges.)

    Some folks wrung their hands — oh deary me, but what can we do? Girls just aren’t INTERESTED, and there’s nothing we can do! — but other folks rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Their results? See http://www.siam.org/news/news.php?id=199 for a brief overview, but basically, the School of Computer Science is now around 35% female (the university as a whole is about 40% female these days).

    So I’m calling bull on this, David. Editors (and writers, and involved fans) SHOULD be involved in community outreach programs. They SHOULD be turning up to high school career days and they SHOULD be mentoring and they SHOULD be working towards a level playing field.

    They should not be wringing their hands all “what o what can we do?” There’s plenty of things they can do. So do them.

  49. So far I’ve found e-publishers to be much more open to non-male/non-white/non-straight writers and characters than the traditional venues.

    I grew up in an area where “white male”=”human” and anyone else was considered second class, if not actively evil.

    As I write more–and live more–I find my characters becoming more diverse along every axis.

    Many of the e-publishing houses: Torquere, Circle Dark, Ellora’s Cave, Phaze, Cobblestone and Samhain (to name a few) are woman-owned and operated.

    I’ve never had trouble presenting them with blind black vampires, futuristic Cherokee truckers, Rom English profs who just happen to be werewolves or lesbian gorgons.

    As for restructuring existing SF/F, I have no suggestions. I’d rather submit my steampunk lesbian ranchers fighting zombies to Torquere than to Viking. I may not sell as much, but I won’t be stuck in the slush pile for a year either. (and yes, it will go print as well)

  50. *gasp* Your analysis is too sensible and your suggested course of action is too practical! How do you expect me to maintain my privileged bubble when you go around making posts like this?

  51. Teresa,

    In the meantime, there’s something readers can do: buy your books from black-owned bookstores, ideally ones that have clearly identifiable black names. And don’t just go there for specialty items. Any book you’re thinking of buying, check there first.

    It bugs me that this is being used as a measuring-stick of interest. I’m all for supporting black businesses, but I don’t know that sales at black bookstores adequately represent the true audience for diverse SF. For one thing, it’s not just black people who buy Barnes or Butler or Delaney or Hopkinson. For another, most black people that I know buy their books from B&N, Borders, or Amazon like everybody else. It’s just easier, when there’s a B&N on every corner (or on your computer’s desktop) and when the black bookstore might be 5 miles away and probably doesn’t stock what you’re looking for (certainly not if you’re looking for SF). Not to mention that most communities in this country, outside of urban environments, don’t even have a black bookstore.

    Why can’t the publishers just look at sales of existing books by or about PoC in the SF realm? (Haven’t they done this already?)

  52. Random addition to the discussion — just heard about the Launch Pad workshop, which is dedicated to teaching SF writers more science. But here’s an interesting bit:

    Several slots will be reserved for the strongest minority/female applicants who may have additional promise in reaching groups less represented in both the physical sciences and hard science fiction.

    Note that this workshop is entirely funded by NASA.

    These people Get It. They understand both that SF is a powerful educational tool, and that its impact as a tool is deeply flawed because of its overrepresentation of white males. So they’re putting their money where their mouths are to correct the problem. Cool.

  53. I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore.

    Just because I’m white I had a priviledged upbringing??? I grew up emotionally abused, one of three children of a single mother who was a teacher (meaning low income), molested, my mom died when I was 9 of cancer and they gave custody to my molestor and it just got better from there. And that’s priviledged?

    Stop asking for a hand out and do what the rest of us poor whatever color writers do, WRITE A BETTER STORY.

    Racism is not only a white versus black thing. Pretty much every damn thing I’ve seen on this blog is very obviously racist against anyone that is not a minority. Anyone who gives it half a thought can see it’s no better, and it’s still not justified.

  54. I wonder where this was linked to call down yet another new crazy person? Sigh.

    Michelle, honey, before you start in on how poor you were growing up and hwo that means you’re not privileged, go read the post titled “Things you need to understand #4″. There’s a search box on the main page so this should not be difficult for you. Don’t bother replying until you’ve read that post.

    Additionally, where in my post do I ask for a hand out? After you’ve read that other post you may answer this, not before. But please provide actual quotes where I say anyone should have a hand out.

    Or, better yet, tell me all about your experience as an editor of a respected fiction market.

    Also, please see our “Monday Debate” (more searching for you) on what racism is and is not. Again, only after that may you return and have any more to say.

    But I suspect you won’t do that, because people like you never want to educate yourselves, you just want to whine.

  55. Teresa –

    I thought I had answered you before. But looking back through I see that i did not. Sorry about that! I’ve answered so many comments at this point… :)

    Okay, so you asked:
    ABW, can you spot writers of color just by reading their stories? I won’t be surprised if you tell me you can. Thing is, I know it takes white editors a while to spot writers of color, assuming they spot them at all.

    I don’t know for sure, but I think that I can. There have been a few times I’ve read a story and thought “This person must be black, or they must have a LOT of black friends.” Something in the way people interact that speaks particularly to me, maybe. I had that happen a couple of times when I slushed. Most of the time I’m reading stories that I *know* are by black people because they’re in an anthology or I happen to know about the author.

    It doesn’t surprise me that white editors don’t usually have that particular skill. But then, I don’t know that they necessarily need it.

    I know Beth Meacham has fought to keep black characters from bleaching out in the cover art.

    I’ve heard that about her. Yay!

    there’s something readers can do: buy your books from black-owned bookstores, ideally ones that have clearly identifiable black names. And don’t just go there for specialty items. Any book you’re thinking of buying, check there first.

    Being able to see how much SF and fantasy got sold through gay bookstores made a world of difference in our ability to publish and openly market books with gay content.

    While I agree with Nora that it seems wrong that we should have to go out of our way like that, I do see the value in such an endeavor. Especially if publishers keep track of that kind of thing.

    I guess I was hoping there is some other way to get publisher’s to notice that there IS interest in writing by and about minorities. I have to wonder if it’s really true that white males won’t read stuff that has black people or women in it. Does everyone just assume that?

  56. [...] or whatnot. And I’ve had a lot of positive feedback online. But, of course, there were the inevitable asshats who trotted over here to scream that I was racist and wrong and then went elsewhere to [...]

  57. I have to wonder if it’s really true that white males won’t read stuff that has black people or women in it. Does everyone just assume that?

    I’m not sure of racially, but gender-wise my brother was deeply disturbed when he read a book which used the female pronoun throughout instead of the male. He found shifting the pronoun so it applied to him took attention and work, and he wasn’t used to it.

    I’m not sure what that implies or how it might carry over in other contexts, though.

  58. [...] is to encourage diversity in fiction markets, particularly the top tier markets. I offered some suggestions on how editors and publishers could achieve [...]

  59. [...] blogosphere has turned to the topic of diversity within speculative fiction.  Tobias Buckell, Angry Black Woman (aka K Tempest Bradford), Jay Lake, and Nick Mamatas have all weighed in already,  and each of [...]

  60. More yay! for Beth Meacham. She’s my editor, and she is good folk.

    There is a scary and time-consuming job someone could take on: Go over all the covers published in f&sf in six months and look for racial and sexual cues. Break down the results by publisher.

    Part of the reason this is scary is it would embarrass good people in publishing who are caught in an ugly bind: a cover’s first job is to appeal to a bookseller. Only after the bookseller buys it will a bookbuyer have an opportunity to do so.

  61. This site is pretty funny: Judge a Book by its Cover

  62. Love the link! :D Thanx!

  63. [...] And, of course, we already know what I have to say about that “We only choose the best stories” nonsense. [...]

  64. With all due respect to everyone here, regardless of perceived prejudices, science fiction with strong ethnic characters is an emerging genre.

    The only way that science fiction novels, containing strong ethnic characters, is going to be a major force in the market place is for authors to write the story and use much of the newer available technologies to get their story out.

    Traditional publishing, like the old 33-RPM and 45-RPM vinyl records, is facing serious competition. I am not being antagonistic; I am merely stating facts.

    Remember the “traditional” 8-Track tape player and the Betamax video recorder?

    In another instance, major music corporations were certain that the music-buying public had no choice but to buy recorded music in the way the music corporations dictated.

    How often did you purchase an album with just one good song on it? The creation and development of the MP3 file put an end to much of that.

    Likewise, the newer publishing technologies are allowing many writers to do the same. Granted, writing and publishing your first novel, traditionally or otherwise, is going to be arduous and tedious process, accompanied by frustrations and setbacks.

    But as the old saying goes, nothing worthwhile comes easy.

  65. Eugene,

    Are you then saying that black authors should consider self-publishing more often? Or target smaller publishers and not the big ones? (Just trying to clarify here.)

  66. [...] well as reviews, columns, poetry, and artist spotlights. Remember my post about how magazines can promote greater diversity in their slush piles? Well, Strange Horizons has always done many of the things I suggested, particularly when it comes [...]

  67. Wow! There is a lot of anger on this posting site. It is unfortunate that we have to degenerate ourselves by using mud slinging, race bashing acid comments. I am a survivor of the civil rights era. I have seen both sides of the ugliness of racism.

    Yet, racism, in all its insidious forms, is a worldwide problem, not in just science fiction publishing.

    To make a long story short, very little, in the field of improving race relations, will be accomplished on this web site or in any human endeavor if we continue to hurl ugly, abusive and derogatory speech at each another. My generation learned this over fifty years ago.

    Publishing a story, whether you are white, black, blue or green is going to be an arduous task regardless. The field of publishing is constantly improving for many people-mainstream or minorities. I am not blind to race relations and perceptions-believe me.

    I have always found out that it much easier to fight fire with water than with gasoline. Regardless, write a good story and go for it.

    To the angry black woman; please stop being angry all the time. Just be a beautiful and sensitive black woman.

  68. In answer to your question as to whether black authors should self-publish more. My decision to self-publish enabled me to get greater exposure over a shorter period of time. Still, it is up to the individual.

    Back in 1990, my experience with traditional publishing left a bad taste in my mouth. Yet, I do not condemn traditional publishing. However there other ways to get major publishing companies to notice your work. Self-publishing is just one of those ways.

    I am using self-publishing as a stepping stone to major publishing recognition. I have computer and graphic manipulation skills that I use on my web site and in my work. It is getting a lot of attention. This is not an advertisement. I would like to advise anyone trying to get noticed by the big leagues in publishing to use much of the available technologies out there to increase their chances of becoming successful published authors.

    Yes, many editors still favor mainstream culture. However, do not allow this favoritism to stop any of you aspiring writers. There are many successful minority authors out there in which Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson and Samuel Delany are just a select few.

    As an African American writer, I, like many other African Americans, want to add my name to this growing list. I wish all of you much success in your writing endeavors.

  69. Post Addendum: Forgive the grammatical errors. My Microsoft Word processor automatically keeps chaging the sentences. I ought to go back to using Word Perfect.

  70. Eugene,

    I’m really not sure what to make of your statements. You mention derogatory and “race-bashing” comments — not sure whose you mean, though you seem to imply that ABW is the perpetrator. I can’t speak for ABW, but from what I’ve observed over the past few months, ABW is civil to anyone who is civil to her. She isn’t, and IMO shouldn’t be, tolerant of people who come here spouting the usual rhetoric. I’ve seen how this kind of rhetoric can derail conversations on race, turning them into a stew of insults and circular arguments instead of a useful dialogue on how we can make things better. So AFAIC, shutting those kind of people down quickly is a necessity to keeping the dialogue going.

    And anger? Yeah, that’s necessary too. I often wonder why we’re still having conversations about stuff like whether diversity is necessary in SF, fifty years after the Civil Rights Era. Fighting fire with water doesn’t seem to have worked, and now the water pressure seems to be diminishing. So since a useful firefighting technique is backburning — i.e. setting another fire to tame an existing one — maybe we *should* try applying a little gasoline, judiciously at least.

    But what puzzles me most is that you’ve acknowledged the existence of the problem…

    Yes, many editors still favor mainstream culture. However, do not allow this favoritism to stop any of you aspiring writers.

    I don’t call that “favoritism”, BTW. I call it what it is: bias. Not necessarily a problem in and of itself — we all have our biases — but when it’s paired with a pattern of exclusion, especially over a long period of time, somebody needs to say something about it. I’m glad ABW chose to.

    And this statement of yours bothered me most of all —

    There are many successful minority authors out there in which Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson and Samuel Delany are just a select few.

    “Few” being the operative word.

    Tobias Buckell addressed this awhile back, and it’s sad to hear a fellow black writer employing the “+10 diversity attack spell” defense himself. The problem isn’t that writers of color can’t get in. The problem is that the ones you’ve mentioned are pretty much the only ones who have gotten in. There’s a few more than that, yes, including Latin@ and Asian and writers of other races/ethnicities… but still, relatively speaking, just a few.

    Too few.

    I wish you luck with the self-publishing; I’m still doing things the traditional way myself. But even if it hurts my career, I feel at this point that I must speak out, and some of that speech must be angry. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend another 50 years like this.

  71. Writing antiracist fiction, for me (White middle-class Queer male), goes beyond issues of representations and inclusivity (although these are certainly quite important). Speaking of content (I’m especially attentive to the conversations about how White-privileged authors can address diversity in their work), it is also crucial to examine the category of race, its history, what it means, how it is constructed, how it functions as an axis of power and privilege, its relationship with other systemic oppressions. Fiction provides mechanisms for doing this that traditional political organizing does not, and speculative fiction offers particular opportunities to explore both social/cultural/political systems and issues of identity and power that other “genres” do not offer. For White writers, it isn’t just about including three-dimensional characters of color in our work. It’s also about interrogating Whiteness, marking the dominant category, tearing down Universalist assumptions and establishing the ways in which we’re all constituted by multiple differences.

    ~tim j-y

  72. “(I’m especially attentive to the conversations about how White-privileged authors can address diversity in their work)”

    “Their” should read OUR.

    Yowsa.

  73. Hello Nojojojo,

    I appreciate your comments. Honest. To make a long story short, African Americans, as well as other minorities, have made phenomenal advances in many fields in spite of racial prejudice or hatred. Writing is one of those fields. Other times, they have, out of necessity, been forced to use violence to defend themselves and their loved ones.

    I am, in no way, implying that the ABW is the perpetrator.(Although I still would like for her to be a more sensitive and beautiful black woman.) There are serious changes coming on the social horizon.

    Racism, by its very nature, feeds on hatred and intolerance. Believe me, racism has a very ugly history. Yet, many African Americans and other minorities have demonstrated that prejudice can be overcome by ways other than abusive speech, threats and other such ways. (Example: August 28, 1963)

    Forgive me if this angers some. I have never been a proponent of the “by any means necessary” notion. Because of this stand, some of my own African American classmates riled and shunned me during my school years. I was charged with “acting white” and called “yellow” and “oreo.” On the other hand, others of my own race respected my position. It’s a long story, I assure you.

    Regardless, human endeavors will never end racism. However, all of us can do more to lessen racism’s vile influence in our personal lives. In essence, if you see the water presure going down, go back and turn the faucet up some more. Peace everyone!

  74. Oops, I left the other “s” out of the word pressure.

  75. Eugene,

    I *am* a proponent of “by any means necessary”, but I believe firmly that the means necessary in the case of racism are speaking out when we see something wrong, often and emphatically. Sometimes angrily. This is entirely different from “abusive speech and threats”, note — that’s not speech, it’s a form of assault. Fortunately ABW has never done that, and is quick to quash anyone who does — even those who are on “her side”. (Despite the accusations of racists that she only censures people who disagree with her.)

    It sounds to me like we’re roughly in agreement about the goal, just not the method. And that’s fine, because it may take many different strategies to combat something as complex as racism. But I have to take exception to one thing you’ve said here, twice now:

    Although I still would like for her to be a more sensitive and beautiful black woman.

    There were some interesting posts about this sort of thing (a good starter; more good links from there) during IBARW. Basically, a common reaction to angry women, or angry people of color, is to complain about their anger rather than focus on the *reason* they’re angry. Black women in particular get hit with this a lot, both from white people and from black men, because like most women of color we exist in the intersection of two systems of oppression: racism and sexism. So we’re told that our anger isn’t “ladylike”, that it makes us ugly, that we should be quieter and nicer if we want to be liked. The implication is that if we sit down and shut up, maybe, people will try harder to listen and “do right by us”. But as any black woman has figured out over the course of her life, in a society that’s pretty much structured to ignore us, being polite and quiet only gets you so far.

    So to be blunt: please stop a) asking black women to stop being angry, and b) implying that being angry makes us ugly and insensitive. I’m sure you mean well, but it’s not helping.

  76. Nora,

    I understand your point very well. I really do. I will respect your wish. Becoming angry is a natural reaction to racial injustice or any type of injustice for that matter. However, in certain situations, anger must be balanced with a degree of reasonableness. Peace my sisters and brothers.

  77. read the graphic novel ,deep sleeper by hester and huddleston , published by image comics. lovecraftian fantasy/scifi without the latent xenophobia. a rich story full of diversity without the self-censoring correctness.

    you’re supposed to be writers on this blog. good writers read good books. then they write their own. stop the name-calling & get 2 work. good night.

  78. Book recs are always welcome, but we could do without the condescension.

  79. [...] I remember reading a message board discussion about the potential of Fantasy and Science Fiction to champion possible worlds in which race is dealt with deftly, interestingly, unusually – the very context of race and race relations is altered. Power dynamics can be shifted (Martha Jones from Doctor Who and Torchwood, anyone?*), sometimes even made void and null (Ursula LeGuin). The point was that Speculative Fiction (Science Ficton, Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism, etc.) can offer a more flexible context to present and consider race. Unfortunately, a majority of Speculative Fiction offers little more than dulling doses of “Blandy McWhitey White in Blandy McNeighborhood in America or Blandy McMedieval Europe or Blan….”** [...]

  80. “I have to wonder if it’s really true that white males won’t read stuff that has black people or women in it. Does everyone just assume that?”

    Well, Ursula K. LeGuin’s books have a fairly wide audience in my experience, and they are hardly ever about the reader. There’s the Earthsea novels, of course, which feature dark-skinned island people, and there are books like Left Hand of Darkness which does some great things “writing the other” as far as gender is concerned.

    However, it is very easy even in the Earthsea novels to make the protagonist start looking like you, as they don’t really belabor the issue of race and appearance. For the most part, this is a good thing; it makes the imagery more powerful for me when it’s a sudden realization I’ve been picturing the character wrong, rather than an awareness that the author’s making a Point. And the default in all of our heads (growing in America &c) is the white male, so it’s great IMO to have stories taking “default” style protagonists and making them different.

    I think it’s made a difference to how I frame my mental defaults, and I hope that it has that effect on others too.

    As an aside, thanks to this discussion now I’m stuck wondering if all the SciFi I read growing up is part of why I see myself through such a masculine lens.

  81. Hm, teach me to troll the archives and not look at dates. Sorry ’bout the blast from the past =)

  82. [...] and drop everything and go read this post from Angry Black Woman on how to promote diversity in fiction markets. It’s not 100% salient to non-fiction publishing, but it’s close [...]

  83. I am a white SFF READER and I want diversity. I don’t see nearly enough of it in most anthologies and novels. The market for non-stereotyped SFF extends beyond the non-white SFF reading population. For sword and sorcery, Charles Saunder’s Dahomey stories are well done. How many more castles do we need to deal with? More anthologies like “So Long Been Dreaming”, please. I also appreciate gender-bending fiction of the sort that gets nominated for the Tiptree award. If I don’t have to think new thoughts or feel unexpected empathy, I haven’t had the pleasure I sought by picking up a given book. Of course it hardly needs saying that the race, gender, etc issues can be transposed onto alien proxies. Just stretch the readers, please.

  84. [...] speaking of diversity in fiction, here’s an older post from The Angry Black Woman that I found recently about how to promote it.  If the publishing [...]

  85. [...] this commentary is not specifically about that story.  I am speaking to the trend.  Also, this is not the first time I’ve said something along these lines: An editor can shout from the rooftops all he or she [...]

  86. [...] I know I wrote this over a year ago, but have certain people forgotten about it already?  Refresher course: “I [...]

  87. [...] for a little perspective a post theangryblackwoman wrote over a year ago: How To Promote Diversity in Fiction Markets Many of you will recall my post about Marriage Equality and that one of things that bothered me the [...]

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