East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The strongest emotion is fear and the strongest fear is fear of change

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This morning I had another brief but momentous discussion, over a social network, about the menace to our civilization, and more importantly to our livelihood as writers, that are themed calls aimed at specific groups – usually based on gender, ethnicity, age bracket or other such things.

You know, SJWs rampaging in the streets, publishers putting political correctness before quality, the usual load of rubbish. And like in that old Flashman book, “I gave them a fine piece of my mind, but at that point they had already thrown me out on the sidewalk.”
So I decided to write my thoughts here, just so that I can inflict them on you.

The first thing is, of course, that publishers and editors are perfectly free to set the rules for their calls and their themed magazines and anthologies.
And as someone that tries to make ends meet writing, there are times when I stumble on an open call and find out with a certain disappointment it’s open only to, say, writers under 6 feet tall.
I am 6’2″.

And sometimes it is really a pity, because I’d really love to make a sale with that publisher, or write a story on that theme, or appear in the same book with some of those (short) writers.
But you know what? I can still find markets for my stories, I can still write about that theme and try and sell the story elsewhere, and one day or another I might find myself under the same book covers with those authors I respect despite their short stature.

So, it’s really no big deal for me.

Only it is, and it is a big deal for all of us, no matter if we are readers or writers – because these sort of calls are made to make sure we get a more diverse and varied attendance at our party.
And we all benefit from a more diverse and varied scene – we get more stories to read, more ideas to play with, and as writer we find more potential readers and yes, even more potential sales.
Everybody wins.

And then there is the issue of the “PC-dictatorship over quality.”
Now, no publisher or editor ever put out a call saying “we’ll publish any crap that comes our way as long as it’s written by people under 6 feet tall.”
A call aimed at a specific category does not imply that any rubbish coming from that category will do. It means the publisher or the editor are looking for quality writing coming from that specific category.

Unless of course you believe that anything, even the top of the crop, coming from people under 6′ is inherently and inevitably worse than anything a taller person will ever write. But if this is the case, my friend, let a 6’2″ guy tell you: you have a serious problem.

So, the scene is changing, and there’s hopefully more people coming in, bringing more ideas and fun for everybody – the market is not contracting because of that. Our livelihood still rests on the quality of the words we put on the page, and on the willingness of the readers to read our stories.
Time to go write something.

And now, a little music…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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