Monday, July 22, 2013

Do book publishers' slush piles have much relevance to gender issues in sf/f publishing?

The latest Galactic Suburbia podcast-- episode 85, July 21, 2013-- is a must-listen for anyone interested in the on-going conversation about sexism in sf/f publishing. The podcast series as a whole, of course, is acutely tuned in to gender issues in our field,  but I was particularly happy with this episode for tackling Tor-UK editor Julie Crisp's post focusing narrowly on the failure of women writers to send out as many slush submissions as do men writers--an thus implying that that failure is the reason for the under-representation of women's work in the field. Alex notes in the podcast that the word she would use to characterize this post is "surface," and Tansy suggests that the post is "a bit disingenuous." The fact is, as Alissa reminds us, slush accounts for a minuscule portion of what gets published-- a fact Crisp neglects (or perhaps takes care not) to mention in her post. (She does not, after all, give any figures for how many slush submissions actually get published, or what proportion of published books were unsolicited submissions.) Sadly, a lot of people have hailed Crisp's post as a credible explanation for why so little women's work gets published in the UK-- as though slush has much bearing on anything other than itself. For a thorough discussion of Crisp's post and the context needed for evaluating it, I urge you to listen to episode 85.


Sean Wright said...

Always good value Galactic Suburbia.

I made a couple of posts to the Tor Blog. The one that was faintly critical (and by faintly critical I mean I suggested that it was still possible for women editors to have an implicit sexist bias or that their system could be biased)never made it through moderation. My second post which focused on my own reading bias did though. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt but admit I struggle a little.

It was, I think an ill thought out attempt to handle the issue, a post that started as a ranty defense of publishing that Ms Crisp then later claimed was an attempt by Tor to get more female submissions.

In the end though some good discussions developed from it.

Ethan Robinson said...

It's disappointing too because one of the nice things about the sf field in general is that there's so little mystification about the process of publishing (e.g. lots of "this is how it works" posts, tips for avoiding scams, etc.), so to see a post like this that relies on such mystification is...bah.