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The argument ... in pieces

I probably should have waited till I had all the bits of the maths in my hands and not said anything in advance. My intention is not to sit and point at men and say how much they suck and how sexist they are. Or how sexist male editors are - that's not remotely interesting to me as an argument. A lot of my closest friends are male editors (heh) and it's not the point, you know? I don't think male editors look at names and dismiss female authors. I don't think they set out to only like stories written by men. That's a boring position in the argument to take.

I blogged my comments earlier because I was looking at the big name overseas markets, many of which struggle to hit 25% female authorship across a bunch of issues in a single year. I was depressed because that's not a lot of places for female writers to be competing with and doesn't leave many spots for new female writers to break in. For new voices to be heard.

My argument was going to be more looking at the business model. Taking into consideration the drop in circulation of the top mags, I thought I would look into various stats. Here's the thing, they struggle to publish women. It's possible that then, they also struggle to appeal to female readers. If you look at the last two publishing phenonemona that swept the world - JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyers - the one thing you can't deny --> they sell. The other thing you'll note is that women read. Two somewhat important factors, I would think, when looking at markets. If it were me, I'd want to look into why those sold and how I can get a piece of the action.

What's interesting to me is that the female audience is never ever (at least publicly) considered. It's not even allowed to be openly discussed without defensive males (editors) jumping up and down and telling you it's not a problem. But what if it IS? What if declining readership could be correlated to declining or low numbers of stories appealing to female readers? Why wouldn't you look at your product and see what market you want or could target it to?

It seems to me, that female writers tend to write female stories - not always, and not necessarily overtly or through only using female protagonists. But ... can men really argue that they write so well that they can write *for* women and thus we don't need to give voice and page space to them in order to hear what they have to say? For me, it's not about needing gender equality in ToCs to show that we're all fair and equal or that sexism is dead. It's actually about there being products out there that appeal to ME, that are made with ME in mind and that give voice to issues and concerns that affect ME. And I don't think you can effectively argue that magazine and anthology after magazine and anthology that only print stories written by white men can do that.

You might not care. You might not want to produce that kind of product. And I don't have to pay for products like that. But the thing is? When I look around at what I have actually handed cash over for lately? It's novels written by women. I used to subscribe to several mags - online and print. And I used to hunt others down in the newsagent. But the truth is, they bored me and they felt like a waste of money for me because I am clearly not the target audience. So when you talk about declining circulations and you wonder why, why not ask around and why not take notice of the answers? Because I am included in many of those stats for readers taking their money elsewhere.


Comments

editormum
Jan. 11th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I think one of the regulars over at Dear Author (an excellent blog that primarily examines romance novels in all their genre incarnations but also speaks eloquently and provocatively about many issues in publishing, and is very positive about e-publishing...) blogged about this a while ago. Because they focus on romance, they know that most romance novels (whether contemporary, historical, paranormal, erotic or other) are written by women. PARTICULARLY the most popular ones. They even talked about the erotic male/male novels by women, and how believable they are.

Romance is a massive aspect of publishing, and romance novellists are possibly more successful financially than any other authors. Who buys romance? Mostly women. That's not to say that mostly women READ romance, because it's strongly argued that a great many men do too, but women are the primary purchasers.

How does this fit into your discussion? I have no idea, but I thought of it when I read this post and wanted to say so :)

A quick archive search turned up this:

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/pollsarchive/?poll_page=3
A poll about gender bias among readers - nearly 500 votes.

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/10/15/gender-bias/#comments

A discussion about why readers may read with a gender bias.

Archive search "gender" at Dear Author if you're interested in more, as there's been quite a bit of discussion on this topic over there.
girliejones
Jan. 11th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC)
I think you sent me to those articles at the time and I agree they were at the back of my mind when I was writing this. Because also there is a massive market in electronic material for the genre - ie romance is selling and readers don't mind reading online. And that actually I am working in the wrong genre entirely.

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