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August 05, 2007

How Do Editors Reach Out to Writers of Color?


I wasn't gonna get drawn into this debate, because Tempy and Tobias were already doing such a good job and saying what I wanted to say, but then I went and read the comments in Tobias's post and now I'm annoyed.

People were--well, one person was--calling out ABW for placing the lion's share of blame on the editors' shoulders for needing to go and reach out to writers of color if they really wanted to diversify the stories in their rags. This someone asked when they were supposed to have the time to do all this outreach.

Are you fucking kidding me?

First of all, arguing that editors don't have time to do their jobs doesn't really excuse anything. It's an editor's job not merely to present the best writing that's sent to her, not merely to make a real, good faith effort to find the best writing that's out there, but to actually encourage writers to produce more and differently--to shape the kind of writing that gets made in the first place. Anyone who doesn't know this isn't really a professional in the field.

And the best editors of the most respected magazines do exactly that. They don't sit on their asses and wait for the transom to emit. They run around like madpeople to conferences and workshops and readings, they collect zines and spend time on the internet and ask their trusted writer/editor friends for recommendations. They talk to agents. They do rain dances, naked.

They also turn to writers and agents and proactively ask them if they have a story on X, or a story written like Y. They do this knowing that word will go around that Editor Z wants X and Y! And tons of hungry writers will step up.

So it's funny that X and Y are so rarely "stuff by writers of color" and "stuff about people of color." All an editor has to do is ask.

2) Given that editors have to do this and also that their time is limited, why don't we poc make things easier for them? I mean, let's start a list of places an editor should go to outreach to those ever-elusive good poc writers. I'll start and maybe members of other communities can pick this up. I'd be happy to host a mini-carnival on this topic, or simply to collect the responses and post them all together at some later date. Please feel free to add resources in the comments, especially if you have a blog that you know poc writers read.

These tips should include:

  1. list servs, forums, bulletin boards, etc. where poc writers are likely to be found

  2. blogs poc writers are likely to read

  3. print and online magazines and newspapers poc are likely to read

  4. real world organizations poc writers are likely to hang out in

  5. poc writers conferences, conferences, festivals (esp. literary festivals)

  6. reading series where poc are likely to participate

  7. undergraduate writing classes at poc-heavy campuses and poc student orgs (yes, they really should be thinking ahead. Someone will be much more likely to START writing if they know they'll be welcome there when they've FINISHED writing something.)

What follows here is a list of all the poc real world and online spaces I can think of to use to outreach to writers of color. NOTE: this goes for literary writing AND for SF/F:

General POC

  1. The Carl Brandon Society (poc speculative fiction writers) discussion list-serv and blog

  2. VONA Voices poc writers workshop, and their email.

  3. Mosaic, an African American and Latino literary magazine, whose lit editor is Sheree Renee Thomas

Asian American
  1. Kearny Street Workshop (Bay Area Asian American arts) opportunities list-serv

  2. Kearny Street Workshop's links page to other Asian American arts and literary orgs.

  3. Asian American Writers Workshop

  4. Hyphen Magazine (national Asian American magazine) blog

  5. Angry Asian Man blog

  6. dis*Orient Journalzine

  7. This listing of South Asian American (Indian subcontinent) journals also includes general As Am markets, some of which might be defunct.

  8. DesiPundit blog, Indian diaspora.

  9. Tiffinbox blog, Indian diaspora.

  10. Resources on South Asian lit.

  1. Galeria de la Raza (Bay Area Latino multidisciplinary arts organization.)

  2. PALABRA A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art

  3. La Bloga, a Chicano/Latino literary blog

  4. Other Latino literary resources

African/Caribbean American
  1. African American bookstores in the USA.

  2. Black magazines and journals with open submissions.

  3. Publishers with a particular interest in Af/Af Am writers.

Arab American
  1. Links list of Arab writers writing in English.

  2. Mizna, Arab American Journal

  3. Al-Rawi, association of Arab American writers.

  4. Resources and links to Arab American writers.

  5. Angry Arab blog

Native American/American Indian
  1. Native American writers directory

  2. Native Blog, native American/American Indian blog.

  3. Native American/American Indian literary resources.


  1. Here's a links directory of all the accredited Asian American studies departments and courses in the USA. Many of them will have As Am-specific creative writing courses.

  2. Here's a links directory of African American studies departments and courses in the USA. Many of them will have Af Am-specific creative writing courses.

  3. Here's an incomplete links directory of Latin American/Caribbean studies departments and institution in the USA. Some weeding will need to be done.

  4. The University of Michigan's Arab American Studies Center. A bulletin board, newspage, and resources page are all under construction, but you can email them your call for submissions here.

  5. List of Native American Studies programs


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Dude! I'm so pleased you put this up! It's not just good for editors- I try to make a conscious effort to read what people of color write, but I had a lot of holes in my reading- you've allowed me to fill them in a lot quicker than I probably would have managed on my own.
The only thing I'd like to ask for is a list for people whose heritage is more diverse- people who have a white parent and a black parent, for example, or some other combination of the categories you listed above.
Actually, you could add a bit about people of Indian/Pakastani decent too. I read Sepia Mutiny, Turbanhead and Ultrabrown, but I'm not sure what your criteria are for putting them on the list...

good point. i'll add south asian pubs and stuff to the list.

multiracials don't, as far as i know, have their own literary journals and creative writing classes, although there are at least a few multiracial courses in certain universities. if i'm wrong about this, please let me know!

mavin magazine is the only multiracial mag that i know of, and as far as i know, it hasn't published in a while.

hitting the major racial groupings will also reach multiracials, though. even those who identify more as multiracial than as their monoracial parts still participate in stuff from some of their different racial components.

www.asianamericanpoetry.com has a good list of Asian American poets writing these days, both emerging and established.

But you gave away the secret of the nekkid rain dance!

hey claire, LOVE the blog and this post. i did a residency at the paden institute this past summer and wanted to spread the word. the north country institute also has summer workshops for writers of color.
hope all is well!

thanks for the tip, lisa!

Thank you very much for this list. I run a very small ezine out of a very small country, and although we welcome spec fic stories and poetry from writers across the world, I had not previously realised that doing some actual, active outreach to PoC writing communities would be, y'know, a good idea. Gah.

If anyone to whom this applies happens to come across this post, as part of trying to source more local content, I'm also looking for work by New Zealanders - Maori, pakeha, and everyone else.

Marie, a lot of people don't think of it. That's what all this posting is for. Not thinking of it isn't the problem. The problem is when you haven't thought of it, someone points it out to you, and you get defensive.

I'm glad you don't have that problem ;) Good luck in your editing!

I know that I'm capable of becoming defensive and shuttered-up sometimes, so I've been chewing my way through as many discussions about race and gender and publishing as I've been able to get my hands on. This post made my brain ping just that little bit extra! So, thank you again.

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