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In the wake of last year’s interesting discussions about gender balance among contributors to literary magazines, led by VIDA’s 2010 gender count, we thought we’d take a look at the content of HR 41 from a variety of points of view: how many women v. men there are in the issue; where the writers come from; how old they are; and, most interestingly to us, the paths by which the pieces made their way to Harvard Review.
One of the things aspiring writers always want to know is how to get into journals in the first place. We could certainly name the avenues—agents, editorial solicitation, personal connections, unsolicited submissions—but we didn’t necessarily know how many of each there were in a typical issue of Harvard Review. With this in mind, we broke down the contributors to the current issue into the following groups:
- writers whose work we pulled from the slush pile (that is, unsolicited manuscripts that arrived at Harvard Review either by mail or through our online submission system Tellitslant);
- writers whose work first came to our attention through referrals, usually by other writers but also by editors and agents;
- writers whose work we found through networking events like Grub Street’s The Muse and the Marketplace.
- and writers whose work we already knew (and in many cases solicited) because we had published them before.
The full results, helpfully illustrated by Laura Healy’s infographics, appear in the current editorial. For us, the takeaway was that at least in this issue we had a pretty healthy balance across a number of measures: better than average gender balance, an amusing age spread (one of our contributors was born in 1797 and thus appears on the chart as more than 200 years old), fair geographical distribution, and a pretty good split between people with some prior connection to the journal and people we were encountering for the very first time.