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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Cirsova 2019 Awards Eligibility by Category

Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a semi-pro publication that, in 2019, paid .0125 per word for original fiction. In addition to its flagship magazine, Cirsova Publishing has released original fiction in Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s Duel Visions and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

Cirsova has published 38 eligible works of fiction in 2019.

[Bold works are Tangent Recommended; * indicates Ursa Major Award eligibility]



  • Halcyon, by Caroline Furlong [S. Spec.]*


  • The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra [2.1]
  • La Molejera, by Marie Brennan [2.2]
  • The Ghost of Torreon, by Edd Vick and Manny Frishberg [S. Spec.]
  • The Bullet From Tomorrow, by Misha Burnett [S. Spec.]
  • The Star-God’s Grave, by Schuyler Hernstrom [S. Spec.]
  • Bleed You Dry, by Su-Ra-U [S. Spec.]
  • The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar, by Rev. Joe Kelly [S. Spec.]
  • The Blacklight Ballet, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Short Stories

  • Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs & Michael Tierney [2.1]
  • Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner [2.1]
  • The Idol in the Sewers, by Kenneth R. Gower [2.1]*
  • Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin [2.1]
  • The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran [2.1]
  • How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd [2.1]
  • Deemed Unsuitable, by WL Emery [2.1]
  • Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel [2.1]
  • Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson [2.1]
  • The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle [2.1]
  • Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg [2.1]
  • A Little Human Ingenuity, by William Huggins [2.2]
  • The Burning Fish, by Jim Breyfogle [2.2]
  • For I Have Felt a Fire in the Head, by Adrian Simmons [2.2]
  • Pale Moon’s Bride, by Ville Merilainen [2.2]
  • Pawn to the Queen, by Christine Lucas [2.2]
  • People of Fire, by Jennifer Povey [2.2]
  • Blue-Like-The=Sky, by Spencer E. Hart [2.2]
  • Doomsday Shard, by Ken McGrath [2.2]
  • Titan, by Rebecca DeVendra [2.2]
  • The Handover of the Scepter of Greatest Regret, by Hal Y. Zhang [2.2]
  • The Grimgrip, by Michael Tierney [Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon 35th Anniversary Edition]
  • Sinker, Sailor, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Ragged Angels, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Green Truck, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Selena, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]*
  • The Statue, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Summer of Love, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Covers for the Spring and Fall issues + Wild Stars Omnibus were done by Anton Oxenuk.

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Cover for the Summer Special and art for our Illustrated Stark were by StarTwo.

Covers for the 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars were by Mark Wheatley.

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Duel Visions’ cover was by Susan Bolhafner.

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Cirsova Christmas Sale! Wild Stars & Duel Visions

Merry Christmas from Cirsova!

We have some big sales and promotions going on over the holidays.

The Wild Stars omnibus is half-off on Lulu! [Get another 15% on top of that with promo code LKAB317CD].

Omnibus Cover 0.05 Front Only

Also, Book of Circles is available at 1/2 off the cover price through our Aero store!

WS 1 Shark

Also, starting tomorrow, eBooks of Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen will be only 99 cents [we’ll post a reminder]. Right now, though, you can get the paperback for as low as $4!

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Steve DuBois’ New Pulp Faves of 2019

Pulp Author Steve DuBois recently posted his top New Pulp stories of 2019, and two of them were Cirsova yarns! This means a lot, because Steve is an excellent author himself.

Included in Steve’s picks are Barbara Doran’s The Book Hunter’s Apprentice and Xavier Lastra’s The Elephant Idol.

Check out the reasons behind, and the rest of, his picks here.

Both The Book Hunter’s Apprentice and The Elephant Idol can be found here in the Spring 2019 issue of Cirsova.

Happy Birthday, Leigh Brackett!

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Happy Birthday to Leigh Brackett, the Queen of Space Opera Science Fiction! Leigh Brackett was one of the best and possibly most important authors you’ve never heard of [unless you follow us, of course].

She was a fan-favorite in the pages of the pulps [and yes, the readers knew she was a woman, and if a neophyte reader misgendered her in the letters columns, editors were quick to correct them]. Some of her Hollywood screenplays are among the most beloved classics of all time.

These days, she gets short shrift in some circles, in part because of the Year Zero approach to culture that requires glass ceilings to be broken over and over again–plus the uncomfortable fact that she not only spoke up about NOT facing discrimination for being a woman in Science Fiction [Hollywood was another story], she was unapologetically /our girl/–her final sci-fi epic, Skaith, was Atlas Shrugged in Space with a black man siccing his psionic dogs on hippies and communists so that the people who worked for a living could escape to the stars with their labor intact.

We’re such huge fans of Leigh Brackett that this year, we published a fully illustrated 70th Anniversary edition of her Eric John Stark Planet Stories adventures!

Be sure to check those out [they’d make great Christmas presents] and her other many thrilling works!

Taking Advertisements for the Spring Cirsova Issue!

We’re now taking advertisements for Spring!

This is going to be an incredible issue, let me tell ya!

Well, let me tell ya once the checks have been cashed, because our terms are enacted upon “acceptance of payment” and several authors opted for checks, but once those clear, hoo boy!

Advertisements are a one of the best ways to help us right now, since each ad payment will go directly towards buying stories. A half page ad covers roughly 4k words of fiction!

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50

1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h
1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi.

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com for details and payment info.

Half-Way Through the Submissions Stack!

We’ve read a little over 100 of our 200+ submissions, and I’ve got to say, we’ve received some truly excellent stories this year!

There are a LOT of stories we’re going to cry about having to turn away before everything is said and done.

With where we’re at right now, we’re looking at nearly 223K words of fiction that we’d love to publish… and reading the next 100 stories, that number is easily going to double [unless the bottom of the pile is all 2nd person elf stories written in the future tense]. The cost of that word count comes shy of $3k, and TBH, we really ought to not spend more than $2k on acquiring fiction right now [I’m sitting on a $7600 estimate to get my ducts replaced in my house that I’d rather not take out a huge loan on but probably will anyway.]

Quick Cirsova-nomics lesson!
1 issue is Approximately 50k words
At our rates, that’s ~$625 for content
We pay our editors $100 per issue for editing
Our covers are $300-$500
So, ~$1k-$1.2k per issue
We make about $3 per copy we sell on Amazon.
We need to sell ~400 to break even.

TL;DR: we really only have money for 3 issues, we want to buy for at least 4 issues, because we probably have 8 issues worth of solid content in our pile.

How to help us afford making 2020 a 4-issue year:

Please note: Cirsova Publishing DOES NOT and WILL NEVER require contributors or would-be contributors to purchase copies of the magazine featuring their stories or any other issues. Purchases WILL NOT be considered when weighing submissions.