Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Women writers in hiding?

 What do you think??
I shall be honest here: I really haven't made up my mind because there are pros and cons, and both are persuasive.
  1. I think most people agree there are quite a few male readers out there who won't read female authors. 
  2. Conversely, there are probably almost no female readers who turn down a book just because it's written by a man. 
  3. So, should a woman writer use a male or androgynous pseudonym in order to increase her sales?
  4. Or should she stick to her feminist guns, use a female name, and say: "I'll show 'em!" so that these prejudiced male readers finally realise being a woman has little to do with writing a readable book? (But...then they'll never read it...)
That's the first way of "hiding" one's gender...and basically it has to do with money and reaching a wider audience. It also has to do with getting published at all. If your sales are too slim, the publisher won't pick up your next book. Publishing is a business, folk. Shouldn't we do whatever we can to sell? (Too late for me...I am committed to my female name, partly because at the time it never crossed my mind that there were 20th century men who wouldn't read women writers!!)

The second concealment of women writers is - some say - by others...
  1. There has been a great deal of blogging over the years about the lack of novels written by women up for major literary prizes, or short stories written by women accepted for anthologies.  Numerous reasons have been given for this and possibly the real reason is a combination of factor all playing a parts: fame, subject matter, prejudice, more male judges, more male writers, ... Perhaps more male judges/editors in the past have regarded "female" family or domestic issues as less worthy when compared to larger "male" issues. This of course presupposes that women don't write so much about large issues and men writers avoid domestic issues.
  2. So, should there be prizes just for "women's" fiction, i.e. by women writers? Such as the Orange Prize? 
No! That implies women aren't as good as males, worthy of competing for the "real" literary prizes, like the Man Booker! Yes! There should be separate prizes for women's fiction in order to get the recognition women deserve for both their issues and their writing! Otherwise we won't be aware of their top-notch work...
     So what do you think?

    Comment here and/or answer on the two poll questions in the sidebar...

    4 comments:

    Jo said...

    Well it is a fact that J.K. Rawlings was very successful without people knowing her name, but then other women have shot up the best seller list using a feminine name (Jean M. Auel being one that springs to mind). Its a difficult question to answer I think, as you say, there are pros and cons. You could start marketing as G.N. Larke *g*. Karen has her K.E. Mills persona.

    Tsana said...

    I've not picked up some books because they were by male writers. This was after a few bad experiences, however, and making the rather sweeping generalisation that female writers are better at writing the sort of intrigue I like in my fantasy. Which isn't to say I summarily refuse to read all male fantasy writers; I'm just more sceptical that I'll enjoy them.

    (That said, I suppose I should also mention that most of the science fiction I read is by male writers, so that probably cancels much of the above out.)

    Working in a male-dominated field (physics) it's hard not to be a feminist at times. SFF is increasingly giving me reason to get my feminist on, too. The Galactic Suburbia podcast may be fueling this urge.

    PS apologies for any coherence-fail. It's late and I'm tired.

    Brendan said...

    I just pity the fools who miss out on all the good writing if they don't read stuff by women.

    I would like to see a demographic and preferred genre breakdown of these men who won't read women before I consider start considering drastic measures like changing my psudonym to attract more readers. And I probably wouldn't be for it anyway, it seems a regressive move. Onwards and upwards, always moving forward!

    Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

    I am one who would love to say stick to your guns, be who you are and if female is it then be proud of it. But, now after my be who we are and proud of it speech will back down to the real world... Yes, I think there are people out there who wont read a female authors fantasy book. I am not exactly sure why, but for what ever the reason (I have my guesses) they are the way they are. I don't know what the right answer is. It is a shame it is that way, but it is. Maybe even just initials or something to give a small touch of fog to the author, but yet not completely hide the truth. I am not sure. Ijust find it aweful that has to be something to think on. Thanks for the post.