Friday, September 21, 2018

Submission Fees, Disability, and Poverty

According to the 2016 Disability Statistics Annual Report (in the US):

  • 39.5% of disabled adults ages 18-65 are employed, while 76.6% of able-bodied, neurotypical people are employed.
  • Disabled people earn about a third less than their peers when they do work.
  • The percentage of able-bodied, neurotypical people living in poverty is 13.1% compared to 20.9% for us.  
I'm going to be bold and say the percentage of disabled people living in poverty is higher.  Why?  Because the report claims disabled people are only 12.8% of the population, and the CDC disagrees (click for link).  I realize the studies are two (maybe three) years apart, but the gap in time wouldn't account for such a drastic increase. 

We equal about half of the people living in poverty in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Entry fees are no longer an indication of a literary contest scam, and the average fee is $20.  Yes, fee-free contests still exist, but nearly all "prestigious" ones are pay-to-play.  At least most contests charging fees give entrants a copy of the winning book or a magazine subscription.

Literary magazines charging submission fees are also more common.  While no hard numbers exist, I'd guess around 25% of "top-tier" literary magazines now have a mandatory $3 toll (sometimes more, rarely less) writers must pay in order to traverse the road to publication. Writers receive nothing except a decision for their cash.  The vast majority of writers receive more rejections than acceptances.
Right now, I have twenty-nine submissions out to literary magazines and presses.  If the pattern of percentage holds across all literary magazines, I would have paid $21.75 just to see my work safely to editors' doors.  I'm also the not-so-proud owner of over fifty rejections for 2018 (so far).  I don't have enough money to waste on someone else's "no".

Disabled people are the world's largest minority group.  In many of the "First World" nations, we are a big chunk of the population in poverty.  Less money means less opportunity to submit our work.  Submission fees are just another way disabled people are kept out of publishing and literary communities.
A few final notes:

1.  The percentage of literary magazines charging fees might be wildly incorrect.  I took a few lists of top-tier magazines and counted how many required fees.

2.  Poverty also intersects race.  Our non-white siblings are at an even greater disadvantage, though I couldn't find definitive numbers evidence indicates this is truth.

3.  I did look into other countries' statistics, focusing on the "developed" ones.  I used more resources for my figures, but I didn't wish to bore anyone with lists.  For anyone truly curious, I'll provide them if you ask.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tips for Submitting Work as a Spoonie

1.  Wait for a "good" day.
No energy and brain fog guarantee mistakes and frustration.

2.  Start from a list. 
There are websites that post monthly or even weekly lists of literary magazines and presses open to submissions.  Some post only fee-free opportunities.  These allow you to begin with a manageable pool.


3.  Narrow the list and make it yours.
The computer's search function is your friend.  Type in your genre and scroll through the entries.  Look at each for restrictions, fees, etc.  Write down any that seem to fit.  Be aware of any deadlines listed (and only select the ones you think you'll get to in time).

4.  Pick a number of places to check.
Decide how many markets you can research without depleting yourself or having all the information run together.  If you aren't sure, start with two.  Check guidelines and sample work, contributors' biographies and editors' blogs.  Sometimes, editors give interviews which are more helpful than many writers realize.  Take notes.  Cut any places that don't seem like they fit.

This step is going to take a number of days due to spreading out the necessary research.  I use deadlines to dictate which magazines/presses to check first.

5.  Prepare yourself beforehand.
Finished work should always be in a separate folder for easy access.  You should also have different versions of a print-ready biography (different lengths, credits based on genre, etc.) and a cover letter template.  It might take a while to set up, but it's worth it.

6.  Keep a submission log that's easy to track.
Matching pieces to places and sending them will take time... let it.  Then, keep a document with where you sent what when.  Update it the second something is successfully sent, don't wait.  You don't want to forget what you sent.  And you will forget, especially if you send out a lot.

Some writers use Excel, but I use a normal document.  The search/find function helps me here, also.  I can search by literary magazine or story/poem title instantly.

7.  If you have a lot of work, list it.
As a poet, I have a lot of finished work on my computer.  I keep all my poem (and story) titles in a master document with the name of any magazines that have them.  Why?  Because I simultaneously submit and want to know how many places are considering a piece at any time.  Plus, if I want to send something to a press that doesn't allow "sim subs", I know which poems are available.  My submission log can't tell me what isn't sent.

8. Don't set impossible goals.
Want to know a secret?  I haven't submitted my poetry or fiction anywhere in a month.  I try to, but life keeps making other demands.  It bugs me a little, but I'm mostly okay with it.  I'm still a writer if no one is reading my stuff.  So are you.

9.  Back up your writing.
Not a spoonie thing, just do it.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Science Fiction and Accessibility

A yellow dog with long brown ears and a white beard is sitting in a blue wheelchair that zips by the outside world as though rocket-powered.

The year is 2732.  Humans have colonized Mars and three other planets in two different galaxies.  We have contact with no less than sixteen alien species.  There are spaceships, teleporters, laser guns, and androids.  But there are zero disabled/neurodivergent people.

If one in four of us is disabled, where are we in the future?  Are we cured?  Dead?  Were we raptured by the alien god of Scientology?  Disabled and neurodivergent people are often not a part of the thousands of potential futures writers dream of.  Seven types of aliens?  Sure!  Twenty-one types of plasma guns?  Oh, yeah!  An autistic pilot?  Uh, nope.  We're not even a footnote on planets and universes made from scratch.

Sci-fi authors who bring up our absence pick "cure" as the explanation.  No thought is given to people who don't want a cure.  Every disease, disability, deformity, and neurological condition is eradicated—something too convenient and unlikely because of the sheer scope and number of causes each can have.

In a world with oodles of high-level tech, accessibility would be unparalleled.  Everyone could use mechs.  Modified spaceships would be available to the general public.  We could finally have a society built for every type of person!  Our disabilities could remain present without sacrificing our chance to be fully integrated.  And that, dear readers, is often seen as the biggest feat of fiction in any possible universe.

What worlds will you create?