Interesting Demographic Breakdown of Publishing

For a number of years, people have pointed out the publishing industry is overwhelmingly geared towards women, in positions of leadership, in terms of authors published, and in terms of audience.

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the question “Why don’t more men/boys read?” Well, a big part of the answer is that the industry is more or less run by and for women.

Until recently, it has been considered improper to challenge this. But something has changed. The “problem” isn’t that the industry is run by white women; now the “problem” is that the industry is run by and for white women. At least according to LA Times writer Esmeralda Bermudez.

She does present some interesting and troubling numbers that do show how misweighted the publishing industry is.

In this industry overall, disabled persons, LGBT, and women are significantly OVER-represented compared to the general populace.

Among interns, the numbers are even more skewed.

The demographics of big publishing heavily favor gay women of any race compared to the actual demographics of the general population, which very well could account for WHY the market looks the way it does.

Efforts to meet market demands create something of a feedback loop; certain groups feel excluded by the product and therefore do not consume them; the industry sees those groups as non-consumers and therefore gears its production to meet the tastes of the groups that ARE consuming, further excluding other groups.

So, even though it’s kind of a meme that publishing has become the domain of cat-ladies, simping male hangers on, and the few folks that can fly under the radar, there are concrete numbers that show there may be some truth to it.

It’s shocking to think that less than 1/4 of those in the publishing industry are men, and only 1/10th of the interns who are interested in learning and participating in the industry are TruMalesTM.

Blacks, and I’d especially suspect black males, are also critically underrepresented, and I can’t help but think that a part of this is an exacerbation of the young male readership identity crisis along racial lines. In school, the written black experience was almost always from a female perspective. We would be handed the tragic tales of young black girls suffering abuse at the hands of men, who were black as often as not. There were few male heroic ideals presented in fiction at school, and virtually none were black.

Because of the nature of the beast, I don’t see any real change in the industry beyond becoming more LGBT focused and slightly more focused on minority women, if they find that those markets will consume everything that’s put on a plate in front of them. We’re still in a spot where “diversity” in publishing is actually a form of exoticism, where the big publishers can put their “diverse” stories on display like cakes in a desert case. There’s buzz around them, but at the same time, there’s the danger of “doing it wrong”, which has already led to the public crucifixions of several YA authors who either were not woke enough in their approach or woked wrong. And given the demographics above, it was especially ironic in those cases where gay white women were shouting down and dogpiling on minority authors.

So, do I have any answers or suggestions on how to fix any of this? No, I really don’t. It could be too broken to be fixed for at least another generation. I’m generally a story first guy, but I also understand that people write what they know, different people and cultures have different approaches to storytelling, and men and women have different approaches to storytelling. Unless the market actually collapses under what it’s doing, it’s going to continue chasing dollars in the way it has been, even if the market may actually be shrinking. Big changes in any direction are painful, and where retail is, a sneeze could kill a Barnes & Noble, which is one of the last bastions of trad-pub.

Indie and self-publishing has balkanized the market, and while it has allowed for a number of niches to be carved out and succeed, they’re still niches and very little seems to have captured the Zeitgeist.

Personally, I’ve never been one to tout the “diversity” of our publication. Because a) I feel the stories stand up and that’s what matters and b) to do so would be to reduce our authors to mere demographic data rather than living, breathing people with stories to tell. At the same time, I’ve been puzzled when I’ve seen other publications lamenting that they haven’t gotten enough of this or that kind of author submitting to them, when we’ve received and published stories from just about every corner of the earth without actively seeking the kinds of diversity that some others have sought out.

I think in some cases, it may come down to vision–desire to tell and publish certain kinds of stories vs. the desire to publish certain kinds of authors. I can’t deny that certain kinds of authors, though, will tell certain kinds of stories. And I think that the demographics in traditional publishing bear this out.

Anyway, this has already gone dangerously into rambling territory, so I’ll conclude by shilling.

Be sure to pre-order the new issue of Cirsova! It is filled with excellent and exciting stories of adventure, peril, and romance, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you. Or, if it matters that we publish stories by women, ethnic and sexual minorities, uh… there’s that. But we’d really rather you check it out because of the excellent and exciting stories!

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Quick Spring Update + Summer Ads

The Spring issue is in the hands of our contributors as we speak; in fact, most have already gotten back with us with any last-minute correction or a thing here or there that we missed. We expect to be able to upload the files for the print version next week!

We still have a couple ad slots left! If you want to get an ad in this issue, hit us up ASAP!

After this week, we’ll begin trying to fill ad slots for the Summer Special.

Note that back cover ads are booked through the Summer regular; Fall [October 17] and Winter [Dec 29] back covers are still available.

eBook Pre-Order:


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Spring Cirsova Cover Reveal!

Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat are back in an all new adventure, The Golden Pearl.

We still have a little bit of room left for advertisements inside, so try to get them in to us ASAP!

eBook Pre-Order:


Paperback and Hardcover: coming soon!

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This issue contains:

Alpdruck! by Michael Reyes

Clock has been dispatched to the private hell of a powerful demon–and only a being of true evil on its own path towards redemption can aid him in this deadly fight!

Pour Down Like Silver, by Cynthia Ward

Banished for refusing to follow her order-pair into death, Rhesanna seeks the Tower of Ancient Time to free her comrade’s soul from the demon they failed to slay!

Lest Darkness Wreck the Stars, by Robert Zoltan

When Dareon and Blue uncover a mysterious gemstone in the wastes, a strange violet star appears in the sky and visions of a lovely woman invade Dareon’s dreams!

The Golden Pearl, by Jim Breyfogle

After a harrowing experience in their search for Burning Fish, Kat and Mangos are determined to never be poisoned again—could a Golden Pearl be the answer?!

Slave Girls for Sacrifice, by D.M. Ritzlin

A powerful sorceress with a bestial lover requires a blood sacrifice to complete her vile rites… Will Avok’s brawn and bag of tricks be enough to stop the witch?!

Praying to Thasaidon, by Tais Teng

No one prays to the Charnel God–but when a necromancer comes to collect on a family’s debts, there may be nowhere and no one to turn to but a god of death!

Adeste, Fideles, by G. Scott Huggins

Long ago, the “Last Fleet” was sent to find a new world for Earth’s orphaned children! That expedition to the fringes of space had been thought lost… Until now!

Return of the Dark Brotherhood, by Adrian Cole

Aruul Voruum nears completion of his witchfinder training… but the remnants of Daras Vorta’s cult have worked their tendrils into the heart of Mars’ government!

Outside the Outside?, by J. Comer

A review of The Tingleverse and Feast of Legends

My Name is John Carter (Part 8), by James Hutchings

James Hutchings continues his longform poem…

Scary Stories to Oof in the Dark

At some point last year, I remember reading somewhere that the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie was actually good. While I didn’t make going to see it a priority, I looked forward to when I could watch it for free from the public library.

Then I had the “oh, wait… from ‘producer’ Guillermo Del Toro…” moment when I finally had it in my hands. For awhile, seeing Del Toro’s name on things was a mark of quality, but I’ve been pretty eh on a lot of his stuff where he’s only had ‘producer’ cred. In fact, I’m struggling to recall the last time I really liked any Del Toro movie, and I think that the one with the teeth fairies might have been the last one [Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010, writer credits].

But anyway…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was basically a Scary Stories-branded version of the Goosebumps movie with no Jack Black. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that…

A bunch of kids go to a haunted house and find a spookybook of spookytales that come true. The attempts to work the few short scary stories from the book into the narrative of the film were about as seamless as a quilt. For instance, The Big Toe is worked in by having one kid staying home while his parents are out–there’s a pot of stew in the fridge with a toe in it. Why? Were his parents cannibals? Was his mother a mortician? A serial killer? No, the toe in the stew simply exists in the fridge because there was story with a toe in stew and the film needed an excuse for the “where’s my toe?” ghost.

The only genuinely scary part, I think, was the Pale Lady from “The Dream”, even though, other than the iconic look of the character, nothing was used from the original story.

I think that more than any other property, Scary Stories could’ve revived the classic horror showcase format… or they could’ve done a more original horror story that simply borrowed heavily from Gammell’s incidental art and aesthetic. But the whole “here’s a book of spooky stories, people die, and by the way, the big local company was the real villain” just smacked of an unoriginality that many fans of the books might find disappointing.

Quick Rundown of Cirsova’s 2019 Finances

Did the taxes for the business last night.

Cirsova had ~$12,500 in revenues and ~$15,500 in expenses.

~$9k of our expenses went to paying our authors and artists.

A little under $2k went to advertisements and sponsorships.

The rest of our expenses were things like fulfillment and miscellany.

Help us close the gap and consider taking out an advertisement for 2020 in Cirsova Magazine!

Superversive SF Interview + Call for Advertisements!

Sunday evening I was on with Ben Wheeler talking about the future of Cirsova Publishing and some of what we have lined up for this year!

[Apologies for some hiccups; I was experiencing a few technical issues on my end. This was the first time I streamed via Discord]

As I say on the Livestream, we’re looking for advertisers for 2020!

The following are Cirsova’s Advertising Rates:

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50
Back Cover Advertisement $125 (Note: Spring’s back cover has already been sold, but we still have 4 other cover slots available for 2020.)

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi, with the following measurements:

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h
Back Cover – 7-8″ w x 8.75″ h

Please send as png, jpg, or tiff!

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com for details.

We’re trying to get ads for spring in by the end of this month, so act fast!

Superversive Sunday Podcast + Quick Updates + Need Sponsors!

I’ll be on the Superversive Sunday Podcast with Ben Wheeler this Sunday talking about the future of the Magazine and the current state of indie publishing and short fiction.

Be sure to subscribe to their channel to receive a notification when it goes up!

We should have the cover art soon for Spring, and we’re in the process of lining up some other cover art from some guest artists; with some of the projects we have going on, we may be keeping Anton too busy to do covers for all five of this year’s issues of Cirsova. But I can promise you we’ll have some really cool artists filling in on a few covers!

Also, I’ll be able to announce them as soon as we’ve got the payments sent, but we’ll be attending a few local conventions this year to try to get the word out locally. It’s strange to think that our magazine has such global reach and even includes works by some local legends but is relatively unknown in our home town. So, we’re hoping we’ll change that in 2020.

We’re still looking for sponsors for this year! If you’re interested in being one of our sponsors, let us know! Our rates are posted here. These, more than anything else, will help us to defray our costs and keep bringing you excellent fiction year after year!


The three or four types of indie fantasy covers

Some pretty amusing insights into the current [and at this point, long-standing] state of cover design philosophy.

Emperor's Notepad

Looking at the Amazon best sellers is always a good way to waste spend the time, and it proves that thing about everything having to change for everything to stay the same. If you blink even for a moment, books, authors, or even entire new genres that once seemed ready to become the new hot thing are suddenly gone, yet, at the same time, the new thing looks surprisingly similar to what they replaced.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more strightforward example of creative unoriginality and lack of imagination than today’s book covers, although the same could be said concerning their titles and perhaps even their themes and style of writing. But covers are easier to analyze—and funnier.

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The State of Things + Upcoming Issues, Projects

The cusp of the new year has me feeling like that moment right when one is about to reach the summit of a roller coaster–it’s going to be wild, the anticipation is building along with a sense of dread and excitement. When it’s all over, I’ll wonder how the hell I did it and got through it, knowing that it was momentum that did most of the work–I just had to hang on. But right now, it’s tense!

Spring is in the capable hands of Xavier; once I get it back and work in those changes, it’s off to Mark–then I bury Mark under the Summer special. The Spring issue is slated for mid-March. I feel like I’m behind, but I know it’s more that there are so many other things that must be done in addition to having the Spring issue ready.

Anton is hard at work on the cover for Spring, which will showcase an all-new Mongoose & Meerkat adventure, The Golden Pearl, by Jim Breyfogle!

Cirsova Publishing is also working with Jim to bring you guys an illustrated anthology of the first five Mongoose & Meerkat stories, plus an all new fantasy novella. We’ll have more details on that soon; we’re just hammering out a few things with our artist(s).

I won’t go into details, but December and the start of January have been ROUGH financially; we really need to get on the ball as far as advertisements go and doing a better job of maintaining our advertiser relationships. But suffice to say that advertisements help us A LOT, and we have space for advertisements in Spring that we need to try to fill by the end of this month.

Finally, you may have noticed that there are no more Short Reviews or Retro Fandom Fridays going up; this is because we’ve exhausted the queue of content from the three years I spent blogging at Castalia House. I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up, and I unfortunately wasn’t able to build up a buffer during the six months I wasn’t writing any. But I still plan on resuming at some point, because creating a library of reviews of pulp stories, even if my reviews are mediocre at times, is probably one of the most valuable things I’ve managed to do to help point people interested in checking out the pulps in the right directions.