VIDA numbers I’d like to see
It’s disheartening and necessary to see the same VIDA numbers every year, but I’d also like to see three different (and more difficult to obtain) statistics next time.
1. A gender breakdown of articles and stories submitted & pitched to magazines. In my experience with slush piles, they can be quite male-heavy and I’ve heard the same from editors.
2. A gender breakdown of books submitted to agents and publishers. (See above)
3. A breakdown of how many books written by men are marketed as “literary” or serious works versus how many by women are marketed as such. This, I think, is the one of the biggest and harder to tackle problems. Books written by women get a picture of a bare shoulder or a pair of legs on it and then men don’t buy it and “serious” reviewers don’t want to review it. Pretty simple. Pretty much a bummer.
4. A gender breakdown of how many male writers are solicited by these magazines. Because, you know, your short story probably isn’t going to make it out of the The New Yorker slush pile. It just isn’t. We know the major magazines (hell, even a lot of the smaller ones) are made almost exclusively out of solicited material. We know that. And because of the same problems that the VIDA numbers point out each year, editors know less women they want to solicit. So, yeah, it’s a vicious cycle, blah blah blah, but one thing you can do about it is be a woman and work hard and submit everywhere until you cannot be ignored.