Back in 2014, I pledged to start evaluating submissions from my open calls. For various (personal) reasons, I did not get a chance to do so until the call for issue #1 of recompose.
To reiterate why I’m doing this:
I believe that to actually address representation in our literature, we must encourage submissions from all peoples. While looking at a Table of Contents may give you a rough idea of the outcome, it could also be masking a disproportionately low submission rate.
Once I assess the demographic and authorial characteristics of submissions to Alliteration Ink, I will then be in a better place to determine what I need to do to encourage and make sure that submissions are proportionate across as many socioeconomic groups as possible.
When poets and authors submitted to recompose, they were invited to participate in a short survey assessing multiple demographic characteristics. These included gender, sexual orientation, ethnic group or “race”, religion, how many works they’d ever submitted, and how many had been purchased.
There were several routine difficulties encountered in the course of this analysis. One respondent wrote to say that asking “What sexual orientation do you identify with?” was extremely invasive. Several people noted that there was no “0” option for the number of stories submitted, as they only wrote poetry. Several respondents wrote answers that did not match the question; e.g. “Cis” for their orientation. Such answers were coded 888; missing answers were coded 999.
There are always questions of the grouping utilized in order to code and analyze data. For gender, I chose to categorize answers other than male or female (e.g. “fabulous”, “genderqueer”) into a single category, genderqueer.
For sexual orientation, I chose to keep a wider degree of separation. In addition to heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual I had categories for “straightish” where respondents added a qualifier to “straight” but did not identify as bisexual. Sufficient responses identified as “queer/fluid”, “pansexual”, and “asexual” to justify not merging these responses. This must be kept in mind when interpreting the results, as the LGBTQQA umbrella is split into smaller sections.
For religion, I merged “heathen” and “neopagan” into the response “pagan”.
There were 114 respondents. Not all respondents answered all questions. Images of the charts are linked to from the section title, or you can browse the album at http://imgur.com/a/b2LpY
Age: The average age of submitters was 42, with it skewing slightly toward older respondents, as shown by the mode of 45. The youngest submitter was 18; the oldest 74.
Submissions: The average number of submissions (and paid submissions both) was 5.9; though the mode of submissions was 10 and the mode of paid/accepted submissions was 6.
Gender: 33.3% of the submissions were from women, 7% from genderqueer authors and poets, and 59.1% from men.
Orientation: 71.4% of submitters identified as straight, 10.5% as bisexual, and 3.8% as homosexual. 1.9% identified as “straight” with modifiers, 3.8% as pansexual, 4.8% as queer, and 3.8% as asexual.
Ethnic Group: 83.7% of submitters identified as white, 4.8% as Asian, 2.9% as Hispanic, 1.9% as Black, 1.9% as Jewish, with several other single respondents claiming different identities.
Religion: 52.3% chose “None” as their answer, in contrast to the 10.8% that chose Athiest or Agnostic. This division is very interesting from a social science standpoint, and bears further investigation. 11.7% identified as “Christian”, in that they did not identify as a particular denomination. 7.2% identified as pagan, and several other denominations and faith traditions were represented below 5% of total respondents.
There were no statistically significant correlations among the data save that it was slightly more likely that a submitter who was older had submitted and sold more works in the past.
It’s clear from the charts that a diverse age range of poets and authors submitted during our first reading period. The degree of diversity demonstrated among self-reported sexual orientation exceeds population estimates.
The percentage of submitters was skewed male; they were also strongly skewed toward white submitters, far in excess of United States demographics. Only the numbers for self-reported Asian submitters came close to matching demographic data.
While it is encouraging that a wide age range of people submitted, and that sexual orientations were well represented, it is disappointing to see that female submitters and people of color were underrepresented.
It is clear that further outreach is strongly needed. Hopefully this analysis and transparency about this issue will be the first step in correcting this issue. Another such set of analysis will be conducted after the second call for submissions in order to determine if these efforts are successful.