Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is the Publishing Industry Biased against Male Writers?

Recently, I overheard a group of writers discussing publishing successes of 2012. There was a consistent theme to the topic: to sell in today's market you had to be female.
I analyzed that based on my own experiences.

·    Of the three people whom I personally knew who had snagged an agent in 2012, all of them were female.

·    Of the two people whom I personally knew who had sold a book in 2012, all of them were female.

Okay. I decided I must know more female writers than male. However, after I took a tally, I found the female-to-male ratio of my acquaintances to be about equal (and I'm blessed to know a large number of writers).

I expanded my search by Googling the topic. Surprisingly, there weren't any articles or blogs of any depth on the subject.

I conducted my own unscientific research of the best-sellers list and found the number of female writers listed did outnumber male writers about three-to-one (the sheer volume of romance best-sellers had an impact).

Finally, I read what editor blogs I could find. Of the ones that even remotely mentioned the topic, they agreed on the same consensus: approximately 80% of readers are female and writers - regardless of gender - should target that audience.*

Back to my original thesis, is publishing anti-male? I again analyzed my own personal experience.

·    Of the six writers conferences I've attended, the editors and agents present were 95% female.

·    Of the traditionally published writers I personally know, 10 are female and one is male. (If I toss in self-published writers, the numbers change to 16 are female and four are male).

All of the above would lead me to believe more females than males desire to have a career in publishing, but that has not been my experience. My writers group is about 50/50. At every writing-related event I have attended there's always been a healthy number of men. Therefore, I believe almost as many males as females yearn to be published.

So, what do I conclude? Yes, there does appear to be a slight bias in the publishing industry again male writers. I'm sure that has to do with the sales numbers. If females read more books, it makes sense there would be a larger female-to-male writer ratio, since all authors were originally readers first. I suppose the best summary I can offer is to return to the group I overheard.

 "If it's true more ladies than guys sell books, what can we do about it?"

 "I don't know about you, but I'm changing my name."

 "Sidney Longfellow?"**

 "Sheila Longfellow."

I guess that is one solution.

Until later, this is Kyle … uh, Kylie signing off.


*   A different, but related topic, is whether male and female reading tastes vary. I believe they do. Maybe that's why westerns - traditionally a male-dominated genre - are dying. Their readership has vanished, while romances - traditionally a female-dominted genre (not trying to be sexist, just truthful) - is flurishing.
** Yes, I changed the original speaker's name.   

No comments:

Post a Comment