FAQ

THE VIDA COUNT FAQs

Please note that this is a moving document and we’ll be updating it regularly. (Most recent update: 3/23/17)

 

What is the VIDA Count?

Each year the VIDA Count compiles over 1000 data points from the top tier, or “Tier 1” journals, publications, and press outlets by which the literary community defines and rewards its most valued arts workers, the “feeders” for grants, teaching positions, residencies, fellowships, further publication, and ultimately, propagation of artists’ work within the literary community. Volunteers from across the country dedicate thousands of combined hours to compile this information and release the results as our trademark blue and red pie charts.

The VIDA Count reveals major imbalances at premiere publications both in the US and abroad. For example: The New York Review of Books covered 306 titles by men in 2010 and only 59 by women; The New York Times Book Review covered 524 books by men compared to 283 books written by women (2010 VIDA Count).

The first VIDA Count encompassed fifteen major journals and publications, plus 81 editions of three Best American anthologies—including an overall Count for each of the series’ three separate anthology imprints from the years 1986–2010—for a total of 94 journals, publications, and presses. As part of the 2013 VIDA Count, VIDA added a new Larger Literary Landscape Count that examined dozens of historically well-established literary magazines.  The 2014 VIDA Count results included the first Women of Color Count. Then, the following year we further expanded to the Intersectional Count which included self-reported demographic information regarding gender, race and ethnicity, sexuality identity, and disability.

 

What about tallying the VIDA Count to report on [insert various forms of identities, including age, nationality, religion, class, region, and more] writers? Could you please create statistics for these writers?

We are constantly working to improve and expand our work. The VIDA Count is an ongoing project; each year, we seek better and more comprehensive ways to uncover what’s really happening in literary publishing. This is a massive undertaking for our all-volunteer staff. The 2014 VIDA Count expanded to include a Women of Color Count. The 2015 VIDA Count was further expanded to report on gender, sexuality identity, and disability as well. (For more about this: http://www.vidaweb.org/vida-announces-changes-to-the-vida-count-vida-count-team/). The 2016 VIDA Count will be expanded to also report on age and education level.

VIDA believes in the importance of intersectionality, and are aware that the male-female binary oversimplifies the wide range of genders and sexes that individuals may identify as and/or exhibit. It’s so important to us we published an Open Letter in 2013 on the subject and, with our 2013 VIDA Count, began including trans* writers in our data breakdown. The 2015 & 2016 Intersectional Surveys seek to further address this issue.

 

How do you survey writers with multiple or fluid gender identities? 

Gender identity is complex and ever-shifting, and some writers live one gender identity in their personal spheres, and a different one in their professional spheres. We support and want to report on the work by genderfluid authors; genderfluid people, like other trans people, tend to fall through the cracks in terms of readership due to the intersection of misogyny and transphobia.

That said, because the VIDA Count is primarily a study of how publications/editors perceive writers based on gender, we survey individuals based on the basic gender information associated with their published story, poem, or essay: author name, pronouns in author bio, and information on author website. In other words, we survey according to a writer’s professional gender identity, not their non-professional gender identity because we tally by using names and pronouns that authors use in their bios. If they are professionally “he/him” and sometimes “she/her” in their personal life, we would not include them because we are only looking at their publication credit/bio/byline.

 

How did you arrive at the identity categories in the Intersectional Count?

In compiling the survey categories for the Intersectional VIDA Count, we consulted with multiple sociologists and activists. And, once we settled on identity categories, we spent extensive time speaking with members within those communities to formulate the questions that would best represent those identities.

VIDA has prepared the following primers with further information regarding the survey, categories, & so forth. PLEASE NOTE THESE PRIMERS ARE FOR THE 2015 VIDA COUNT & DO NOT REFLECT CHANGES MADE FOR THE 2016 VIDA COUNT.

 

What did the survey look like?

Here is the survey for the upcoming 2016 VIDA Count.

 

Gender

  1. Are you:
  •   A woman {skip to 2}
  •   A man {exit full survey}
  •   Non-binary {skip to 2}
  •   I decline to choose {skip to 2}
  1. Please check or fill-in all that apply:
  •   Transgender
  •   Cisgender
  •   Agender                                   
  •   Bigender
  •   Binary
  •   Butch
  •   Coercively assigned female at birth (CAFAB)
  •   Coercively assigned male at birth (CAMAB)
  •   Demigirl/Demiwoman
  •   Demiboy/Demiman
  •   Fa’afafine (Samoan)
  •   Femme
  •   Genderfluid
  •   Gender non-conforming
  •   Genderqueer
  •   Hijra (Indian/South Asian)
  •   Intersex
  •   Mahu (Native Hawaiian)           
  •   Multiply-gendered or Multigender
  •   Nonbinary
  •   Polygender
  •   Trans+
  •   Transfeminine
  •   Transmasculine
  •   Transmisogyny constrained (TMC)
  •   Two Spirit (Native American, First Nation)
  •   Decline to state
  •   A gender identity not listed. Please share how you identify:

Sexuality Identity

  1. How do you describe yourself in terms of sexuality identity? (Check all that apply.)

__ Asexual

__ Bisexual

__ Gay

__ Lesbian

__ Pansexual

__ Queer

__ Questioning or Unsure

__ Straight/Heterosexual

__ A sexuality identity not listed. Please specify (optional): ___________

*Please note that should you check more than one identity, your choices will be reflected as “Multiple options selected” in the final analysis.

Race/Ethnicity

  1. Are you:
  •      Hispanic
  •      Latino/a or Latinx
  1. Are you Jewish by ancestry?

—new page

  1. What is your racial category?
  •      Asian {skip to 3a}
  •      Black {skip to 3b}
  •      European {skip to 3c}
  •      Indigenous {skip to 3d}
  •      Indo-European/Caucasian {skip to 3e}
  •      Middle Eastern/North African (MENA)
  •      Multi-racial or Bi-racial {skip to 3f}
  •      Not listed. Please share your race category:
  •      Decline to state {advance to Question 4}

—new page

3a. Associated list: Asian

What is your ethnicity?

  •      Chinese
  •      Indian Subcontinent
  •      Japanese
  •      Korean
  •      Southeast Asian
  •      Taiwanese
  •      Not listed. Please share your ethnicity:
  •      Decline to state

—new page

3b. Associated list: Black

What is your ethnicity?

  •      African American
  •      Afro-Brazilian
  •      Caribbean
  •      East African/Horn of Africa
  •      West African
  •      Sub-Saharan
  •      Not listed. Please share your ethnicity:
  •      Decline to state

—new page

3c. Associated list: European

What is your ethnicity?

  •      White American
  •      East European
  •      North European
  •      South European
  •      West European
  •      Not listed. Please share your ethnicity:
  •      Decline to state

—new page

3d. Associated list: Indigenous

What is your ethnicity?

  •      Aboriginal
  •      Alaskan Native
  •      American Indian (North or South America)
  •      Native Hawaiian
  •      Pacific Islander
  •      Not listed. Please share your ethnicity:
  •      Decline to state

—new page

3e. Associated list: Indo-European/Caucasian

What is your ethnicity?

  •      Armenian
  •      Georgian
  •      Russian
  •      Turkish
  •      Not listed. Please share your ethnicity:
  •      Decline to state

—new page

3f. Associated list: Multi-racial or Bi-racial

What are your racial categories? Please choose all that apply.

  •      African
  •      Asian
  •      European
  •      Indigenous
  •      Indo-European
  •      Middle Eastern/North African (MENA)
  •      Not listed. Please share your race categories:

Impairment/Difference/Disability/Neuroatypical/Atypical/Nonnormative Embodiment

  1. Do you have one or more impairment, difference, disability, neuroatypicality, atypicality, and/or a nonnormative embodiment (i.e.,  physical, intellectual, developmental, psychological, sensory or other form)?

__ Yes, one

__ Yes, multiple

__ No

  1. If yes, please check which type(s) (check all that apply):

__ Physical or ambulatory

__ Deaf or hard of hearing

__ Blind or visually impaired

__ Cognitive – developmental

__ Cognitive – psychological

__ Cognitive – learning disability

__ Speech or communication impairment/disability

__ Autism spectrum disorder

__ Chronic illness

__ An impairment/difference not listed. Please specify (optional): ___________

  1. Is/Are your impairment(s)/difference(s):

__ Congenital

__ Acquired

__ Combination of congenital and acquired

__ Unknown/uncertain if congenital or acquired

  1. Do you identify as a disabled person or person with a disability?

__ Yes

__ No

Age

Please select your age range:

__ 14 or younger

__ 15-24

__ 25-34

__ 35-44

__ 45-54

__ 55-64

__ 65-74

__ 75-84

__ 85-94

__ 95+

Education

What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed or are currently in the process of completing? Check one:

__ Grade school or lower

__ Some high school, but no diploma

__ High school diploma or GED

__ Technical, vocational, or alternative diploma

__ Some college credit

__ Associate Degree

__ Bachelor’s Degree

__ Master’s Degree

__ Professional degree beyond bachelor’s degree

__ Doctorate degree

[END OF SURVEY]


My publication actually published [x number of] pieces by [insert identity category], why doesn’t that show in your results?
[

Self-reporting from women and writers who do not identify as men drives the intersectional portion of the VIDA Count. We do not assign identities based on names, rather we allow each author to provide their ancestries and definitions. Writers who identify as men are not included in the Intersectional VIDA Count. Further, because we do not receive a 100% response rate to our survey, we do not know the identity categories of every woman published in each publication.

 

According to your charts, no [insert identity category] writers were published in some/all publications in the VIDA Count. Is that true? Did VIDA not survey [insert identity category] writers?

The VIDA Count reflects women and writers who do not identify as men who are included in top tier publications. We surveyed these writers and allowed them the opportunity to self-report. While it’s possible that those publications simply did not publish any women of a particular identity category, the absence of [insert identity category] authors might also be attributed to the following:

 

  • A less-than-50% response rate to our identity survey;
  • Publications might have published many [insert identity category] authors who are men; or
  • Authors reported identities that include but are not exclusive to this category. For example, while in many publications there were no Native American women, some authors selected “Native American” in combination with one or more other racial or ethnic identities.

 

 

Can you give us an idea of what exactly is tallied in the VIDA Count?

Sure! We separate reviews from bylines. We separate “micro reviews” from full-length reviews. When dealing with a creative-only journal, we separate genres. Reviews reported are only of the written word; if a review is, for example, of a gallery or film, that would be included in “bylines.” We do not include editors of the publications. If an edited collection features more than 2 authors, we do not include it. If an edited collection is of the work of one author, the author is included, not the editor. We do not include translators; we do include authors translated. If more than one book appears in a review, each book is included. If, for example, a poet has three poems in a publication in the course of a year, each poem is included separately.

If you have any specific questions about methodologies which are not answered here, please contact us.

 

These are great, but I’d love to see [insert] statistics. Please compile statistics on songwriters, TV writers, screenwriters, graphic designers, technical writers, etc. Divide between traditional and experimental, please.

With our all-volunteer staff, we have limited resources and we can only take on so many fields.

 

But men submit to these journals more than women do. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that journals publish more pieces by men?

No. This is the most frequently asked question in the history of question-asking, and we’ve responded to it fully here.

 

But don’t women read more? Don’t they buy more books? Don’t they edit these journals and read slush? And therefore – isn’t this largely the fault of women, as well?

First: sexism pervades our culture, and so it is often unconsciously absorbed/internalized by everyone, including women. Feminism is an act, not a bumper sticker. It requires the constant re-evaluation of one’s assumptions, habits, and biases. By being a part of the system, women are often a part of the problem/patriarchy.

 

Specifically – more women are reviewers. Shouldn’t these women be proud feminists and review more women?

Our hope is that male reviewers will review books written by both men and women, and that female reviewers will do the same. Therefore, we hope that reviewers will volunteer to review books written by women, and that editors solicit and assign reviews of books written by women.

 

Why does the VIDA Count feature these specific venues/publications? Why don’t you report on my publication? Will you survey my publication?

The Atlantic, Boston Review, Granta, Harper’s, London Review of Books, The New Republic , The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Poetry, The Threepenny Review, The Times Literary Supplement, Tin HouseParis Review, and The Nation are widely recognized as prominent critical and/or commercial literary venues. Publication in these magazines and journals furthers the careers of writers by bolstering applications for grants, residencies, employment (academic and otherwise), graduate programs, awards, and more. Winning/earning/receiving these types of honors affords writers the time and resources needed to continue/advance their careers.

The prominence of these magazines, and the widespread respect they’ve earned, also have consequences beyond an individual writer’s career. Most notably, they have a ripple effect on what happens in classrooms everywhere – both K-12 and in colleges and universities. Prominent publications “ripple” into syllabi via anthologies, textbooks and readers, College Bound Reading Lists, American Classics Lists, and the canon.

The 2013 VIDA Count introduced 24 new journals: A Public Space, Agni, The Believer, Callaloo, The Cincinnati Review, The Colorado Review, Conjunctions, Fence, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, Jubilat, Kenyon Review, McSweenys, Missouri Review, N+1, New American Writing, New England Review, Ninth Letter, The Normal School, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review.

 These journals were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Consistent editorial staff
  • Not edited by students
  • Appears in print
  • All regions represented
  • Multiple genres represented
  • Staying power (year established)
  • Widely accepted as reputable among literary community
  • Likelihood of work appearing in these journals to go on to be nominated for/win a Pushcart and/or appear in Best American Series.

 

 

Why doesn’t the VIDA Count include digital publications like online journals and magazines?

We do not include digital publications because online content can be changed at will leaving very little trace of the history of that change. We retain physical copies of journals until the following year’s VIDA Count has been released so that we can address alleged discrepancies.

 

 

But if these magazines don’t want women, why should women writers even bother with them? Don’t you think women might just be choosing to write for different venues?

The publications we report on have direct impact on a writer’s career, whether it’s in exposure to a potential author or agent, or with an already published book being exposed to a large reading audience. For many reasons, women might choose to (or are forced to) write for other venues, but there is no reason, other than systemic bias, why women should not be included in these “career-makers.”

 

What can we do?

Tally up your bookshelves. Make your stories pass the Bechdel-Wallace test. Expand/evaluate/consider your notions of storytelling, line, language. Write seriously about works by women. Solicit and commission writing by women. Consider race, gender, sexuality, and other identity categories as well.

Downloadable PDF: VIDA Handout – What You Can Do

 

 

VIDA GENERAL FAQs

Please note that this is a moving document and we’ll be updating it regularly. (Most recent update: 8/31/16)

 

How is “VIDA” pronounced?

“vee-duh.”

 

Is the word “VIDA” an acronym? What does it stand for?

It isn’t an acronym, nor does it stand for anything.

 

How did VIDA begin?

VIDA began when Cate Marvin sent a handful of women writers an email that questioned the current state of women in literature. Together with Erin Belieu and Ann Townsend, VIDA was founded to address this in 2009.

 

Will VIDA help me promote my new book?

VIDA is an all-volunteer organization, we don’t have the labor to provide promotional assistance. We do love hearing about your successes and achievements, however, so please feel free to keep us in the loop via social media. Often if you tweet your news to @VIDA_lit we will retweet, although we make no promises.

 

How can I work with VIDA?

Woohoo! Thanks! We appreciate you. See our Volunteer page for ways you can get involved! Please contact us and give us some information about yourself and your interest in working with VIDA. We are an all-volunteer organization and your engagement is crucial.

 

How can I use content from/about the VIDA Count/VIDA Count pies/VIDA/HER KIND in my work?

As explained in our terms of use, VIDA owns or licenses the copyrights in all materials on the VIDA website (www.vidaweb.org), and VIDA’s protected trademarks include VIDA, HER KIND, the VIDA Starburst logo, and VIDA COUNT. We’re serious about advocating for gender equality, and that includes women being recognized and credited for their intellectual property. We love when the conversation spills out into the blogosphere, the print world, online journals, magazines, and your newsletters, flyers, and e-mails, but please, please, please, make sure that you properly ask our permission and/or credit us – check out our terms of use to find out how.

How can I get published in The VIDA Review?

Thanks for your interest! Please read our submission guidelines by clicking here.

Who designed VIDA’s logo?

VIDA’s logo and all of its graphics are the sole creation of fiction writer and graphic designer Nancy Smith.

smith

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith is a graphic designer and writer. Her work has been published in Communication Arts, The Believer, Adbuster’s, and Seattle Weekly. Nancy received her MA in Media Studies from The New School and is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. She is the editor and publisher of Stumble magazine. (www.nancymadethis.com)