Earlier this week I wrote a post about how Asimov’s, under Sheila Williams, has published more women this year (so far) than F&SF or Analog by a significant amount. I mentioned this for several reasons, though probably not the one people think. Though some people grokked my main reason, which was to make people (scratch) women aware of the markets they might deem “friendly” to them or their stories or the kind of stories they like to write.
Over and over I hear that women and men, in general, have different submitting strategies. And that women, mostly, will stop sending stories to markets where they are sure that their stories have no chance. In some ways, this is a good strategy. It keeps one from sending stories about pretty, pretty princesses to Clarkesworld and gory horror stories to Realms of Fantasy. But then one runs the risk of rejecting the story for the editor, which doesn’t do anyone any good. Finding a sensible balance between those two extremes is, well, sensible. But a key element in finding that balance is good information about a market.
If the common knowledge floating around is that this or that market doesn’t like girl stories or whatever, there’s a chance that people who write girl stories won’t send there. But if a market changes, or is looking to change, how is that common knowledge amended? Though people pointing it out, talking about it, encouraging writers to update what they think they know.
More than once recently I’ve heard someone write Asimov’s off because of stuff that happened or stuff they read 5 or more years ago. That was before the current editor. Things have changed since then. Things that matter to writers (like that goddamned form rejection we hated). And one of those changes is the percentage of women in the magazine. Maybe pointing this out will encourage women writers to pick up a few issues, read them, and submit themselves. The more good writers in the slushpile, the more good stories in the magazine. It follows.
Just a FYI. Opened up my WT submissions email account this morning. 25 new submissions. 22 from men, 3 from women. This is the typical submissions ratio I receive for Weird Tales (this is just from overnight – I’ll get more in during the day….)
Weird Tales is another example of a magazine that has gone through changes (major changes, in fact) and may still suffer from wrong “common knowledge” about what kind of stories they publish and that they’re more interested in what men write than what women write. Now, I don’t know Ann, and I’ve only read one issue with her picks so far, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she probably isn’t more interested in the stories that men write. What she is interested in is up to her to show us as the magazine continues. But if I were a writer (oh, I am), and also a woman (batting 2 for 2 here), I would definitely get right on sending her appropriate stories and not automatically assuming that she doesn’t want my fiction. There are an awful lot of men who are doing this thing. And it would please me above anything to have really strong female writers making their mark on that slushpile, amongst others.