Where Are the Female Lit Mag Editors? Here.
By Danielle Lazarin
What has always stuck with me about the VIDA count isn’t the statistics themselves—-horrid but not, if you’re from any underrepresented group, shocking—-but the discussion, mostly anecdotal, of how women are not repeat submitters to literary magazines; men are more likely to send out again once they’ve been rejected. This was me: I have many kind rejections, years old, that say “please send again,” or “we’d like to see more work,” and yet, I didn’t.
As I began to have my own conversations with women writers about our work and our hopes for it, most of what I learned is that I have many talented friends who rarely submit their stories to begin with, never mind resending. That kind of silent production line frustrates me. I have committed to submit more, and further, to encourage my friends to do the same. The effect is that I’ve started lobbing emails at them with submission calls and contest deadlines, much like that distant-enough aunt who asks at every family function when you’re going to married/get a real job/pop out children/dress like a grown up.
Am I annoying my friends with my optimistic you-go-get-yours emails? Perhaps. But I want the voices of my friends’ work out in the world. Those voices matter to me, and I think they would matter to other readers.
As for myself, now when I get a rejection, I take 24 hours to mope about it (or feed it to my dog, who did a great job shredding my last paper rejection) and then send my story to another magazine on my list. I’ve also been trying to be a smarter submitter, subscribing to more magazines, reading online as much as I can, generally trying to be less blind about making a match for my work. I’m a list-maker, a lover of gathering information, so I began a giant spreadsheet of literary magazines I’m interested in. I was collecting— or attempting to (more on transparency later)—the usual information about submission windows, and who to address submissions to, when I realized, about halfway through my list, that I was staring at an overwhelming number of male editors.
Most of my writer friends are women. My current writer’s group is all women; two-thirds of my MFA program: women; readers of my manuscript drafts: women. Why did I know so many women writers and yet was always addressing my submissions to men?
I added a new column to my spreadsheet: female editors. As a woman, I like to see as many women as far up on mastheads as possible and then to do something with the information I’ve gathered. One of my friends in my writing group wisely said: “I always take comfort in the fact that more women read fiction. Our audience is out there, not just women, of course, but they can help move the dial…The best writers take it all seriously, the whole spectrum.” It’s up to all of us, for women and men alike, to support magazines that support women by not only publishing them but by hiring them as editors.
My initial list was based on the magazines I like, that my friends like, and is, for the most part, about said magazine’s fiction. Personally, I don’t consider magazines that don’t take simultaneous fiction submissions; I also tend to avoid ones that don’t pay, though this is not a hard and fast rule. In order to broaden the list, I put a call out on Twitter for female editors and gathered a list there, so there are many publications I’d never heard of but was happy to hear exist, helmed by women.
So below is my incomplete, crowd-sourced list of magazines with women who have, best I can tell, a primary role in selecting fiction for their pages (listed on a masthead as Editor-in-Chief or Fiction Editor or self-identified through social media as being such). This list is absolutely incomplete.
Other blind spots: There is a stunning lack of transparency on many magazine websites. There is a whole other article in that, about why it’s so difficult to discern whether a magazine pays its contributors, or how many months a year it reads, but I’ll stick with the masthead, if there is one. Sometimes, there is a poetry editor listed but no fiction editor. Some magazines have three “assistant editors” or a list of readers, but it’s often impossible to tell where these staff are in a magazine’s hierarchy, and I imagine, that varies by magazine, even by issue. Sometimes, bios of the editors can give you a clue of what parts of the magazine they edit, but most of the time when I was making this list I was going by what I could gather from the website or crowdsourcing through Twitter and friends. My only experience with literary magazines is as a submitter and reader. I’d love to hear some folks from the editing side shed light where they can.
What I love most about VIDA is its directive to pay attention, to count what you think hasn’t been quantified but that you see happening. VIDA encourages all of us to pay attention, to count, and then to make an effort, to vote with submissions and subscriptions and shout outs. I’d like nothing more than to see this list get longer; please add any mags that fit this criteria in the comments.
A Public Space
American Short Fiction
Bat City Review
Bellevue Literary Review
Cactus Heart Press
New England Review
North Caroline Quarterly
So To Speak Journal
The Drumlit Magazine
The Iowa Review
The Kenyon Review
The Literary Review
The Normal School
White Stag Lit
Danielle Lazarin’s fiction has been published by Glimmer Train, Five Chapters, Boston Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her story “Spider Legs” won first prize in Glimmer Train‘s Family Matters competition and was named “Best Story I Read In A Lit Mag This Week” on Ploughshare’s blog. A graduate of Oberlin College’s creative writing program, she received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where her stories and essays won Avery and Jule Hopwood Awards. She is a three-time recipient of an individual artist grant from The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. Her website is http://daniellelazarin.com/.