Minority Searching on Duotrope.

Per usual when I am in a regular submitting schedule I am using Duotrope to look for new markets, look at submission stats for zines etc.

Something I have noticed even prior to them going pay is that if one uses the descriptor: Ethnic/Cultural as part of your search string, it will cut out about 90% of magazines.

Right now I have a search going with the following criteria:

Fantasy, flash length (under 1K), electronic submissions, electronic submission.

That search returns a total of 160 listings for this search.

If I add the Ethnic/Cultural criteria the number of listings goes down to 8.

If I change that to GLBTQ the number shrivels to 5.

I change it to Women/Female Issues (also a side not wtf exactly are “female issues” who the fuck came up with that term? Does that mean stories about periods?) the search hits 6.

Changing from fantasy to General (as in not genre specific) and using no subject (Ethnic etc) I get: More than 300 results.

I add Ethnic/Culteral and get 37 listings.

I change that to GLBTQ and get 15 listings.

I change it to Women/Female issues and get 26 listings.

Okay here in a nutshell is a big problem.

Why do so many lit mags feel fine listing fantasy, experimentalism, blablabla but can’t include POC or women or Queer people with the same specificity?

I find that when I go read guidelines often I run into the same discomfort. Why go out of your way to mention you read a Toni Morrison book once, but there’s no specific mention of interest in “ethnic” or Queer stories?

Also let’s talk about Ethnic/Cultural.

Right now I have a story that is absolutely “Ethnic” in that it is not part of the White Dude’s literary Universe.  I have had one editor admit that they wouldn’t use it because it is so far outside of what’s “usual” that they didn’t think their readers would get it.

In this instance “usual” is Whiteness.

As I am writing more of these stories that are so far outside of the White Dude’s Universe, I’m seeing more and more things that are more and more deeply problematic.

It is exhausting to me to continue seeing editors/others in the lit world  flap their gums about diversity and whatnot when there is nothing to back it up.

I was just reading a zine and I honestly went back six issues. Every author was college educated, White and fairly attractive.

The fact that I am not just aware of these things but that I need to think about them before submitting to a magazine is just exhausting.

I don’t like having to pump myself up and tell myself that if I get accepted to X zine I will totally be the Brave Black Lady who broke through the Big White Wall.

I don’t always want to play that role.

Most of the time I just want to be that lady Shannon who writes some cool stories that people read sometimes.

I honestly wish I could not notice these things, not think about them, have the privilege of never having to look at a magazine and say to myself well self, those are good stories but those are so not your people. RUN RUN NOW.

I my position as a distinctly not famous writer toiling away in obscurity (mostly happily) I feel powerless and sometimes want to just give up and only try to get my Whiteness friendly stories published and self publish everything else.

On the other hand, I don’t want to spend all my time doing that. I have shit to write.

Days like today, I just don’t know what to do or how to deal with these feelings so I’m going to close Duotrope and write another story because I just don’t have the energy for all of this.

7 thoughts on “Minority Searching on Duotrope.

  1. I was considering signing up to Duotropes myself. Have you found it useful despite the issues you bring up? I’m a black writer and I was hoping to use it to find some more avenues to send my stuff.

    1. Representation aside Duotrope is actually vital to me. I have a full time day job and whatnot so the time saved alone and the organization of having most of my submissions in one place is worth the price.

      It’s easier to use than a lot of software and because it’s a third party site I don’t have to have any software available everywhere.

      I would say try it out for a month or two and see if you like it. I’ve been using it for about five years regularly and my acceptance ratio has gone way up.

      Duotrope has no actual impact on represenation issues beyond being able to have the qualitative data to back up my impressions because a lot of people won’t take my word on these things.

      What kind of stuff do you write? Depending on what you do I can probably put together some other resources that are free to use until you’re ready to spend money.

      1. Experimental fiction (taking a lot of cues from poetry, so I could probably call the shorter stuff I’ve got prose poetry), mostly. Work centered around race/racialization, sexuality, and oppression. Sorry if that’s kind of vague; I always have a hard time talking about it.

        I actually signed up to Duotropes right before I read your post, but I figured I’d ride on the bit of free time I have with it and see. I was just hoping that I’d be able to use it to find stuff more receptive to my kind of stuff.

      2. There are a lot of really good magazines around. I think I get what you mean. I would say try both the general search and the experimental search options and see what you can do.

        The balance of who might be receptive and who will be is really difficult to nail down. Outside of when I post stuff like this or I’m feeling too outside of White Dude lit, if I really like a zine I will submit regardless when it comes down to it. Once you get into a groove and find a system of deciding where to submit that works for you, Duotrope and the good reception we all want seems to start happening.

        Am I being helpful or just babbling? I feel like I am babbling.

  2. Nah, you’re making sense. I think I just have to get brave and put myself out there. Just having a hard time figuring out what these folks are looking for. It’d help to be able to read a bit from back issues, but usually that means a purchase.

    1. Make sure you look for free stuff to read too. Or my other solution is to find authors a zine publishes and look at their stuff to get an idea of aesthetics if I can’t afford (so usually) to buy a lot of the back catalog.

      And yes, you just have to put it out there. Put on your hard hat and ready for rejections, rinse and repeat. Once you start it does get easier I promise. Rejection still sucks but you know when you are getting them you’re putting in the work and that’s a pretty fine feeling.

  3. Pingback: More thoughts and Duotrope frustrations. | About that Writing thing.

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