So what is the VIDA count and why does it matter?

VIDA is a group devoted to Women in Literary Arts. In 2010, in response to clear evidence of a great lack of women being published and promoted (such as the 2009 Publisher’s Weekly “Best of” list including NO BOOKS BY WOMEN), VIDA decided to do a systematic count. Their first report was issued in 2011, and their second in 2012.

It’s more than dismal out there, and putting out the hard numbers pushed some to reconsider their work and others to dig in their heels, with the all-too familiar whine that “men simply write better books.”

You can report the report yourself at: VIDA: The Count.

Go and learn, young grasshopper. Then go and make it different!

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The tale of the accidentally all-women’s issue

I have three pieces coming in the next issue of the small literary journal Armchair/Shotgun. It’s a young journal, this is only issue #3, but it’s already gotten great reviews. They have a “blind” admission process, which means each piece that comes in is given a number, and names aren’t attached again until the final pieces are chosen. For this issue, ALL of the contributors turned out to be women, in a literary world where women are consistently proportionally underpublished.

This is great news, and it’s gotten some amazing coverage. The first blog to pick this up was The Millions, and then The Atlantic Wire: An accidental all-female issue

Then the editors at Armchair/Shotgun wrote this great explanation of how the issue came about: Women’s Work. The whole essay is worth reading, but here’s a great excerpt:

Because as the VIDA count demonstrates each year, many more men than women get published in literary journals, reviews of books, and other lit-type magazines. More short stories by men, more reviews by men, and more male-authored books that get reviewed. The only category in which women tend to have the edge is poetry.

There are a lot of discussions about why this might be. One theory says that a lot more men than women submit their work–either because there are more male writers or because they are more aggressive at self-promotion. That’s certainly plausible. Could our all-female issue just have been a fluke of submitter demographics?–did vastly more women than men submit their work to us this time? Nope. When we looked back at all the submissions, we saw a lot more traditionally-male names there than female.

The women’s work was just better this time.

THEN a blogger at the Poetry Foundation picked up the story at Way to Go, Ladies!

Press! Press! Press! And the first piece in the issue is by Yours Truly. You can buy a copy online here Armchair/Shotgun

Armchair/Shotgun #3