Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sexist Reading Habits

I was having a conversation recently about how the majority of readers are women and then I wondered what the numbers are. So I looked it up. This article puts it at an 80/20 split, meaning that women make up 80% of book-buyers. And despite their clear domination over the market, it is still geared toward men.

The article above mentions how the vast majority of books are reviewed by men and they're reading male authors. This is crazy-making as a female writer who is hesitant to embrace the women's fiction label. There's a reason this genre does so well- most readers are women!- but this tag alienates a male audience.

When I had my work posted on authonomy, there was no women's fiction tag and half of the readers supporting my book were men. I am a woman and my main character is a woman, but I don't understand why that means only women should read my book. I read books written by men with male protagonists and I never think: "Wow. That was such a guy story. Can't relate."

I can't decide whether women should be insulted that men won't read our work or if men should be insulted that the people advertising books don't think they're capable of reading outside their gender.

I'm pretty sure it's insulting though, one way or the other.


  1. Well from a sales perspective, it's not bad. If 80% of book buyers are women then write fiction for women! From a review standpoint, it is disappointing. Men prefer to read men, who knows why? And sadly, much of literary-dom is male dominated. When you look at stats of publications like The New Yorker...much more short fiction by men than women. All of it discouraging and ridiculous. But we can change it, right ;-).

  2. Patrick BlackburnJune 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    I'm going to read your work, for the record. It's interesting you mention relatability. A recent review on my Amazon page was by a woman and she wrote about my book (a guy writing about a breakup): "All I kept thinking about i when I read this book is oh my God I can totally relate!!! I think both men and women would enjoy this read."

    The question is how to we get people to understand that they will be able to relate, SO THEY BUY THE BOOK? I, for one, look forward to reading your book and spreading the word. And it won't be about a "great female author," rather, it will be about, simply, a great author.

    Best of luck...

  3. yes, mary, from a sales perspective women's fiction does well. it just seems like female writers have to choose between being commercial and being worthy of review where male writers don't have to make that choice.
    but yeah, we'll change it!

  4. I don't know what's more insulting: that you think having an 80% share of the literary market isn't enough or that you can't understand that you're angry that you can't get 20% of the markey to buy more female fiction.
    Hello! It's a stupid business model that chases only 20% of a given market.
    That is unless someone body realizes men are more than 20% of readers- which any trip to a book store will tell you.
    Here's a bold idea --write stories that cater to men! Have you ever considered trying that?