As an writer, I submit my work to publishers almost every day. So, I can say from experience that the selection process is a rigorous one. Unfortunately, compared to the thousands of manuscript submissions that make it into the slush pile, few make it to press. Until recently, the vast majority were rejected by editors, agents, and publishers because they were either poorly written, or not something that fit the publication’s needs at that time.

Recently a preferential process for “marginalized individuals” has been introduced by some publishers. By definition, a marginalized person is “part of a group excluded due to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, religion, or immigration status.”

Since submissions are sent by email, online submittal form, or US Mail, the people who judge the work’s merit have no idea if the submitter is marginalized. So, now publications ask that you notify them of your status and preferred pronoun.

Before “wokeness” became part of our vocabulary, everyone was judged on the work they submitted, not if they were marginalized. The present selection system has worked well for decades because it works on a simple principle. If your work is good, you are published. If it is not, you receive a rejection notice. And, when you’re a freelance writer submitting online (or by mail), nobody knows your color, creed, etc.

Today, much of the manuscript selection process has changed. For example, since being woke became fashionable, many publications’ guidelines say they will “Give preference to marginalized individuals.” In “Woke Speak,” that means, if you say you are one of the people our society labeled as “outside the norm,” your manuscript goes to the top of the slush pile, and is more likely to be published.

Is some work published not on its merits, but because the publisher wants to show they are woke? I’m sure we all know the answer to that question.

What I do know is, there are publications out there that discriminate against “non-marginalized” writers. I know that because their submission guidelines say they only publish stories written by specific genders, or sexual orientations. Cisgender individuals are excluded from these publications. To expressly exclude someone based on their gender or sexual orientation is, by any definition, discriminatory.

Some publications even discriminate within the marinized community. For example, they will only accept work from individuals with a specific sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, you can find a publication that caters to or gives preference to every group – except writers who belong to any group that is considered in “the majority.” Doesn’t that make those groups marginalized?

How do these publications know if an author is marginalized? The cover letter or author’s bio tells them – if the writer wants the publication to know. There was previously no requirement for a writer to divulge any personal details about themselves.

The following is an excerpt from a “marginalized” author’s bio a publisher recently posted.

“(Name removed) is an aroace  [aromantic asexual], agender  [without gender] writer. They are passionate about supporting marginalized and underrepresented writers. … They write poetry, flash fiction, short stories and are currently working on their first novel.”

So, are non-marginalized writers being marginalized? If the publication says they are giving preferential treatment to particular groups, the answer is “yes.”

Of course, one could fake belonging to one of the groups the publication is favoring. But, why should you have to? In my opinion, in the writing profession, every author’s work should be published based on its merit; not whether the author is marginalized…or not.

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Antaeus writes from a lakefront home in Southwest Florida. While cleaning toilets in a bar at age nine, he wrote his first poem on heavy-duty toilet paper. Antaeus is the author of The Prepared Citizen, a three-book series on Situational Awareness. Antaeus has also written several action-adventure, sci-fi, and humorous fantasy novels. Antaeus can now afford to use actual paper to write on, but instead, he prefers to write digitally.

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Author: Brian Whiddon – Managing Editor