Tag Archives: anthology

Difficulty of Diversity: LGBT+

17 Nov

Today Editor Ed finishes his series on diversity in genre fiction to address LGBT+ authors. Ed is a small press publisher, editor, and author for many years.

I mentioned in a previous post that when organizing my first anthology, I idealistically aimed to select a diverse range of authors that represented a variety of gender, race, and sexual orientation—and promptly ran head-first into a brick wall.  For female and minority authors, the problem was a depressingly low number of submissions from those groups.  But there was a different problem with LGBT+ authors, one I hadn’t anticipated …

How do you know if an author is LGBT+?

Unlike race and gender, which an editor can usually determine from an author’s name and photograph on social media, the editor generally can’t determine someone’s sexual orientation just by looking at them.  They have to tell you.  And, for the most part, they don’t.

You see, an author’s sexual orientation isn’t generally the type of information they usually include with their submission cover letter.  They’re typically more concerned with genre, word count, and plot summaries.  Perhaps they understandably fear discrimination if they disclose an LGBT+ orientation.  Or maybe they just don’t think it matters, or shouldn’t matter—and they’re right, it shouldn’t.

In my last submission call, only one author identified their sexual orientation (bi) in their cover letter.  I was able to determine another author’s orientation (also bi) by searching Facebook profiles.  And that’s it.  Two.  Worse, one of them had their story automatically disqualified for some uncomfortably racist subtext.

And all the other authors?  I had absolutely no idea.  For all I know, maybe I did publish a LGBT+ author in that anthology, but just didn’t realize it.

And here’s the thing: it would be horribly inappropriate (and quite possibly illegal) to ask.  I mean, can you image that?   “Excuse me author, I know this is a very personal question about a very private part of your life that’s really none of my business, but what type of people do you like to have sex with?”  I can imagine the lawsuits already!  Besides, I imagine I’d get a lot of answers along the lines of “Why does that matter?” or “What does that have to do with my story?”  And the honest answer is “Nothing.”

I haven’t yet found a solution for this dilemma: How can an editor ensure LGBT+ diversity among an anthology’s authors when the editor doesn’t know their orientations, and can’t ask?

If you readers have any advice or suggestions, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Have you heard of other publishers who have found a way to solve this problem?

Difficulty of Diversity: Race & Gender

16 Nov

Today’s post is brought to you again by Editor Ed, continuing his exploration of diversity in anthologies. Ed is a long-time small press publisher, editor, and author.

In my previous post, I discussed how genre anthologies are frequently criticized for being dominated by straight white male authors, and how I wanted to have a more diverse collection of authors in my first anthology.  I also mentioned how my open submission call resulted in disappointingly few stories from women, even fewer from people of color, and a completely unknown amount from LGBT+ authors.  Finally, I said I had a few guesses about why that happened. Today I’ll offer my theories (and ask if you readers have any others).

For my first anthology, Corporate Cthulhu, fewer than 5% of the submissions I received were from racial minorities.  Worse, one of those stories (from a Latin American author) was automatically disqualified for some shockingly misogynistic content.  Worst of all, 0% were from African-Americans.


I’ve mulled this problem over for the last few years.  Perhaps the underrepresentation of racial minorities in genre fiction has less to do with discrimination and more to do with… well, numbers.  According to the 2010 US Census (a decade ago now, so take it with a grain of salt), 72% of the US population is white.  In retrospect, I guess it’s not really surprising that most of the story submissions I received came from authors representing this largest segment of the population.  In contrast, African-American are less than 13%, Asian-Americans are around 6%, and Native Americans are just under 1%.  Was it perhaps simply unrealistic of me to expect a large number of story submissions from such a small segment of the population?  Possibly.  But there’s still quite a gap between the US population being 28% minority, and the submissions I received from minorities being only 5%.  That suggests there are other factors at work besides simple numbers… I just don’t know what they are.

But what about women?  They form half the population.  So why were only a fifth of the stories I received submitted by women?  Could it possibly have been the genre?  After all, if I’d been organizing an anthology of romance stories, I suspect the majority of my submissions would have been from women.  Perhaps women just aren’t as interested in horror stories as men?

I dug around on the internet trying to find market research info, but wasn’t very successful.  The closest data I could find was an analysis of the horror movie audience—not the same as horror fiction writers, of course, but better than nothing.  That study found that horror movie fans are roughly 60% male and 40% female.  Still, given that only 20% of the submissions I received were from women, there’s still a sizable gap to be explained.

There’s one last underrepresented category of writers to consider: LGBT+ authors.  Fairly representing that group in an anthology, however, presented an entirely different set of challenges.  I’ll get to that in the next post.

Do you guys have any ideas about what other factors could be at play?  Things I missed, or just didn’t think of?  Are there any other editors in this blog’s audience who have experienced similar problem?  If so, how did you fix them?  Please leave any thoughts in the comments, I’ll be very interested to read them.

Difficulty of Diversity: Race

15 Nov

Today’s post is brought to you by repeated guest, Editor Ed, who has worked as a small press publisher, editor, and author for many years.

When I set out to organize my first anthology, I was aware that genre fiction has been criticized for decades for being dominated by straight white male authors.  Wanting to be a Good Guy™ and help remedy that pattern of poor representation, I added to my submission guidelines “We’re particularly interested in submissions from writers traditionally underrepresented in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fiction, including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, LGBT+ individuals, and people living with disabilities.”  In my mind I was saying, “Behold, ye underrepresented huddled masses!  I, your straight white male savior, have thrown open the gates of my anthology!  Give me your fiction, your stories, your rejected manuscripts yearning to see publication, the hidden treasures of your overflowing hard drive!”  And then I sat back and waited for the flood of submissions from women and minorities.

In retrospect, I was unbelievably naive.

After submissions closed and the demographics of the submitting authors were analyzed, these were the disheartening statistics: Only around 20% of all submission came from women, and less than 5% were from racial/religious minorities.  I didn’t receive a single submission from African-Americans.  And LGBT+?  I have no idea (more about that later).  In the end, my first anthology included stories from one woman, two racial and one religious minority (all men)… and 23 white men (no idea if they were straight).  I’d published exactly the kind of anthology I’d set out NOT to publish.

What happened?

Conventional wisdom has a ready answer to that question: editors and publishers are racist sexist homophobic bigots who discriminate against women and minorities.  Before I did my own anthology, I believed that simplistic explanation—I had to reason not to.  Now, I’m not so sure… at the very least, the situation is a clearly a lot more complicated than I thought.

I’ve been pondering this question for years, and I have a few guess as to why submissions were so low from these author groups.  Just to make things even more complicated, I suspect there might be different explanations depending on if we’re discussing authors of color, female authors, or LGBT+ authors.  In follow-up posts, I’ll share these theories with you, and invite you to share any theories of your own.

For now, what is clear is that simply saying “I welcome submission from women/minorities/LGBT+” is obviously not enough for an editor to assemble an anthology with a diverse selection of authors.  As far as I can tell, indie editors need to actually go out and find women and minorities, and actively encourage them to submit stories to the editor’s anthology.

But how, exactly, does one do that?  Good question.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments.  If you have any other theories as to why submissions from racial/ethnic/religious minorities are so puzzlingly low (or how to fix it), leave those in the comments too, I’d love to hear them.

And the next time you notice an anthology is full of white male authors, please don’t automatically assume the editor is a racist sexist homophobic bigot.  It could simply be that they didn’t have a very diverse pool of story submissions to draw from!

Your Call to Cthulhu is Important to Us, Please Hold

20 Oct

I’m not a big fan of American horror, but I do like the psychological fear (usually present in foreign horror films) element, if it’s done well. Cthulhu touches on that nameless horror, that unseen fear, that tinge that comes right before you turn on the lights. Now put that in a banal setting like your workplace.

That’s the beauty of this short story anthology, Corporate Cthulhu, which deals with that fear of the bureaucratic, the fear of being out of the loop, and the terrible consequences if you DO know.

Of course, I’m prejudiced because one of my stories, Shadow Charts, is part of this anthology. I took my experience from having worked in hospitals for 11 years and put it in a story about an inner-city hospital hiding a strange secret; patients check in, they don’t check out. I actually set it in an old hospital building I worked in (it only recently got demolished)… so I think it works great!

However, there are several other stories I enjoyed in here. Boedromion Noumenia by Andrew Scott was insanely well researched and very creepy. Incorporation by Max D. Stanton was excellent. And there are twenty more of these!

So I really suggest you pick up this book and let me know how my story… and others turned out! By the way, what do you think of Cthulhu as a subgenre? Is it played out, do you enjoy it, not your thing? Let me know in the comments below!

“Nice Story, But Not a Good Fit”

26 Sep

Today’s blog post is brought to you by my good friend, Ed Stasheff, who has been working as a small press publisher, editor, and author for years.

If you’re an author who’s ever submitted a short story to a magazine/anthology/whatever, you’ve probably gotten this rejection letter: “This is a nice story, but it doesn’t quite fit our needs for this project.”  I got those, too.  And I always assumed they were a polite, diplomatic way of telling me the story sucked, essentially no different from any other rejection letter.  Then I became an editor.  And I had to reduce a slush pile of almost a hundred submissions down to only fifteen to twenty open slots (depending on word length).  And I had to send out rejection letters—a LOT of them.  And that’s when I learned the truth (and the value) of the “nice, but not a good fit” letters.

Sure, a lot of mediocre and even bad stories end up in the slush pile—but so do a lot of good ones.  Frankly, eliminating the bad and mediocre stories is the easiest part (and there are fewer of them than you might think!).  They all get a short, polite form rejection letter along the lines of “thanks, but we’ve decided to go with other options”. After that, though, the reduced slush pile will almost certainly still contain more excellent stories than can possibly fit in the anthology.  From this point on, winnowing down the pile gets much harder, mainly because the editor has to start disqualifying stories for reasons that have nothing to do with the writing quality.  This is when the (you guessed it!) “not a good fit” rejection letters come it.

Many, even most, anthologies these days are arranged around a theme.  It’s how the book is marketed, why readers buy it, and what they expect.  If the stories inside don’t fit that theme—even if they’re otherwise great stories—readers feel cheated (and leave bad review, which affect sales). Consequently, any story that doesn’t fit the anthology’s theme has to be rejected.  When I was selecting stories for “Corporate Cthulhu“, I had to reject one of the best story submissions for this very reason.  It was the creepiest horror tale I received, the only one that sent a shiver down my spine… but it had nothing to do with either the Cthulhu Mythos or corporations, so I had to turn it down.

The rejection letter I send to these authors was also a form letter, but a different one.  It said, among other things, that it was a good story, that I enjoyed reading it, but that it wasn’t a good fit for this anthology, and I finished by inviting them to submit more stories in the future.  But here’s the thing: I MEANT IT!  And I meant the part about submitting more stories, too.  A talented author is not a resource to be discarded lightly.  Never forget that editors are only rejecting one particular story you wrote, not you as an author. 

So if you ever get one of those “nice story, but not a good fit” rejection letters, believe it, and be proud of it.  They’re basically saying, “this IS good enough to publish, just not in this project.”  More importantly, keep submitting new stories to that venue. They already like your work.  Next time, it just might be a good fit after all.

I could go on and on for hours about what editors are and are not looking for, but this isn’t my blog.  Still, if you found this useful (or if you didn’t), let Marcus know in the comments—maybe he’ll invite me to do another post someday!

Tales from a broken doll

Short stories, poetry, musings and rambling.

Poteci de dor

"Adevărul, pur şi simplu, e rareori pur şi aproape niciodată simplu" - Oscar Wilde

O Miau do Leão

Uma pequena voz da Flandres

A Life's Journey

Little things matter 🌼


A dreamer, who loves to muse her world and penned it down✍️ Each words in this blog lay close to my soul🧡

Talkin' to Myself

I'm listening

Nature Whispering

From Sunset to Dawn

Riverside Peace

Discover how God works through his creation and Scripture to show us his love.

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Looking to God

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)


We may see things that we don't even imagine.

Decaf White

No Sugar


Mere khayal aap tak..

The Haute Mommy Handbook

Motherhood Misadventures + Creative Living

Hangaku Gozen

For we cannot tarry here, We must march my darlings

A Cornered Gurl

I am more than breath & bones.