The POB Score Project

POB Score logo

The Fireside #BlackSpecFic Report is in its third year, addressing the dearth of Black writers in professional short fiction markets. We at FIYAH are pleased to find that since the first report, the numbers have improved, and readers are being exposed to more Black SFF writers than ever.

In an effort to keep this progress from stagnating, we are introducing the POB Score.

POB: Presence of Blackness score

The POB Score project is designed to track the progress of short SFF markets in improving their accessibility to and publication of Black authors at a volume proportionate to their annual output.

POB Scores will be used to provide Black writers with an at-a-glance reference point for which markets will be most receptive to their work. They will also let interested markets know where they are successful in attracting Black writers and where they can improve their outreach methods. We intend to stay in communication with the markets, and will be working with them to develop tools and resources to help them improve.

View 2017 Scorecards 


Professional SFF markets and select semi-pro and token markets will be scored annually based on five metrics:

    • Number of Black authors published in a calendar year
      • Because there is no guaranteed accounting for volume of submissions received by a market, this number is not as heavily weighted as other metrics
    • Number of Black editors/guest editors featured in the same calendar year
      • Black editorial staff members indicate to writers that there will be someone at a market who is more likely to understand voice and cultural cues in the work, thus encouraging submissions
    • Number of Black first readers/slush readers
      • Because of relatively high fluctuation in first readers in a given year, this number will be reported as however many readers are staffed by the market as of July of the reporting year.
    • Demographic data collection
      • Back-end measures such as demographic data collection show a market’s initiative in tracking its own progress for blindspots in attracting and publishing diverse works. While this measure is not being scored for our first year, it is among the resources we intend to develop in coming years for use by any market with interest.
  • Presence of inclusive language on market website
    • Research has suggested a correlation exists between a market’s stated commitment to accepting authors from all racial and ethnic backgrounds within their submission guidelines  

Understanding the Scorecard

Sample POB scorecardA: Name of market.

B: POB Score – cumulative

C: Points granted for number of stories published by Black writers in the survey year. (5 points per 10% of output)

D: Points granted for number of Black people in editorial positions on masthead (5 points each)

E: Points granted for number of Black people in guest editor roles (2.5 points each)

F: Points granted for number of Black first readers (1 point each)

G: Points granted for paying first readers (1 point overall)

H: Points granted for inclusive language on market’s submission page (2 points overall)

I: score year

J: DNP = Did Not Participate. (not pictured) We reached out to every market scored for the information we could not find ourselves. Those that declined to provide this information for whatever reason are marked with a DNP tag.

Color Code

Dark green: output meets or exceeds current POB goal | The POB Project is currently pursuing a standard of 10% of a market’s annual output by Black writers.

Light green: output is greater than 0 but less than the current POB goal

Yellow: Unknown or Non-Applicable Metric | Markets which failed to respond regarding metrics not publicly available, or which do not use first readers (for example) will find those respective fields colored yellow

Red: Needs Attention

Semi-Pro and Token Markets

Semi-pro and token markets do important work in the field, but because of high turnover and sheer quantity, they are not part of the regular #BlackSpecFic scope. We would like to extend an invitation to these markets to volunteer for scoring in future cycles provided they fit the following parameters:

  • Market must be paying
  • Must have published a full schedule for two consecutive years prior to application

Questions or interest in sponsorship of the expanded POB? Email pobdata[at]

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