. . .and the debate over female vs. male publishing continues.

Its been been one of my contentions that the publishing world, when it comes to fiction, has simply disregarded the needs of the male reader and has consciously decided to cater to the female buyer.  Currently the stats prove this.  Females are, by far, the largest book buyers out there and read far more fiction than males.

 

But why?  One possibility is that the publishing world's day-to-day nuts and bolts applications are staffed by women.  Editors, copy writers, lit agents--all hugely female in persuason.  All you have to do is open up book listing lit agents in the US and start counting the number of women vs. men agents.  It's an eye-opener, to say the least.

 

Well, here's an article that--somewhat--agrees with me.  Give it a good read and tell me your opinions on this subject.

 

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/books/blog/2010/05/do...

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When my novels came out, some PR wag told me to focus my marketing effort on stockbrokers because my protag is one. But what this jerk didn't know: I worked in a room with 40 male brokers, knew plenty of brokers who worked down the street. Not one read fiction. Hadn't read a novel since high school or college.

I am thus convinced that the stats are true -- women buy 80% of all fiction, including most of the books their husbands read. I've heard more than one agent say "If your story does not appeal to women, don't even pitch it to me."

The answer: We must write books that appeal to women if we want to sell any.
"... disregarded the needs of the male reader," is a bit of a stretch, BR. An awful lot of books aimed at the male reader are published every year, especially if we buy into the old saying, "Write the book you want to read." In that case every book written by a man is aimed at the male reader.

Now, it may be true that those books don't sell very well (I can use myself for an example of that ;) but there are plenty of them out there.

The thing is, "the male reader," is a pretty big demographic. Still, even broken down into the smallest of niche markets, I can't see one that is underserved.

I know that for myself, there are far more books published every year that I'd like to read than I'll ever be able to have the time to read.
I've seen a couple of articles recently, and I'm not surprised, really. Just as Hollywood, which is dominated by young males, catered to young males. Of course, the self-fulfulling part of the the prophesy is also self-perpetuating. Once you have an established demographic you know how to sell to, it's just easier to keep selling to that demographic.

The one place in publishing where this has historically been a little different is in junvenile books. Everybody says that 'everybody knows' that girls will read all kinds of books, but boys won't touch a book with a girl protagonist. Therefore, for the longest time, it was much easier to get a book for boys published than one for girls. (And this could be where the prejudice that men are reluctant readers comes from.)
What appalls me is that publishing caters to women with the most abysmally low taste in reading material. The bestselling books are romances, vampire crap, cozies, and those wish-fulfillment potboilers about becoming a successful career woman who makes millions, is adored by the most successful men, jets around the world, and spends time on yachts. That's just simply brainless escapism.
Men go the other way, to action with world-shaking explosions and evil plots by masterminds who wish to destroy America (or the UK, if the author is British). It's possibly a tad more intelligent, but frequently the basic simple escapism is just disguised by a mass of technical detail.
In the end, publishing is a business that doesn't care about quality. This applies to anyone in the business, though a few people may express regret that good books don't sell.
I'm not sure whom to blame. Certainly when you are talking numbers as large as those that satisfy the big houses, then you need to write to a large segment of the public that will buy your books. Possibly, the success of a few bad books has spoiled readers who then want all their books like those. Almost certainly it has made publishers want more of the same. Hence the success of vampire novels.
As for the fact that women work for less: maybe. Would you guys quit writing if you thought the money wasn't good enough?
I.J.-- your statement "would you guys quit writing if you thought the money wasn't good enough,"is a hoot. I've been writing for 40 years and haven't made enough money to pay for the postage of one scipt sent off. So I guess the answer is no, I'm still writing. Still hungry.

But the larger question be answered is this: Why are women the majority of fiction buyers? Are men too stupid to read fiction? Or just too lazy to go out and find something to read? There's a conundrum here that bugs me. Men read books. A lot of men read a lot of fiction titles. So why is there this huge disparity in numbers and the overwhelming belief that men don't read?
BR, on one of the websites I saw this being discussed a woman pointed out that her husband reads lots of books, he loves to read.

What he hates to do is shop.

Maybe 'male' fiction needs to be sold in a different way - or a differnt place. Maybe e-books will sell more to men - they're already online buying porn. Hey, that's an dea, maybe I'll try and get my publisher to buy ad space on porn websites ;)
John, what gets me about men not buying is this: I love to go to a bookstore. Could spend hours and hours in one--and walk out of their absolutely besot with books and a busted bank account. And I know lots of other men the same way.

But, if I believed the stats, I'd have to say they must be ghosts.
I like going to bookstores, too, but we're writers. Ask people who work the cash in bookstores how the customers break down and you'll hear women outnumber men everytime.
My boyfriend fully admits that he will read more when he has an e-reader and can download books.

I think men are more technical, not only in their interests but also in the way they want to access those interests (yes, a sweeping generalisation!) I read a wide range of books while the only books my boyfriend will pick up are non-fiction and it has to be for a reason. He's much happier doing stuff on his computer or fixing things. He also likes the idea that an e-reader can hold more books than a shelf and won't clutter up his pretty minamalist house!

I, on the other hand, dread the day that I won't have bookshelves crammed full of books....

My brother, on the other hand, does like to read but tends to read books that have been bought for him. My mother is also an avid reader and shares his taste for Andy McNab and Christopher Brookmyer so he knows that she'll buy them and let him borrow them.

I don't think shopping has anything to do with it. I hate shopping (unless it's for food) and as much as I love books, I'd rather buy online and have them delivered. Plus, I spend much less money that way....
I really do think it's a self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating thing. Once upon a time men did drive the publishing industry. And, for that matter, once upon a time, women drove the movie industry. But probably due to several cultural forces, things shifted, and when they shifted, they caused an unnatural momentum in that direction.

For instance, 30-40 years ago, there was a high number of women tending toward liberal arts in college, and I would not be surprised if they greatly out-numbered the men. Even post-feminism, it was still more acceptable for a woman to take "self-fulfilling" courses rather than ones that would get them a good job. But they DID need to go out and get a good job. So I suspect that is a part of the reason there are so many women in publishing. Which in turn leads to a bias in publishing toward women's tastes, which in turn means that men who are borderline readers will be turned off, while women flock to their choices. So the publishers make more money on women than men. And rather than pause to figure out why, the powers-that-be chase the money they've already got....

There was a bias in DVD marketing a few years back which turned out to be really wrong. The first people to adopt DVD technology were young guys who wanted to see a high-quality picture for their action movies. Young men were seen as a profit goldmine. They bought DVDs in huge, unreasonable numbers.

But once DVDs became the norm, there was a huge shift. Studies began to show that the biggest buyers of DVDs were middle-aged women. But it took a long time for the industry to catch on, and when it comes to making the movies that go on the DVDs, Hollywood still considers movies for women (especially middle-aged women) to be a niche market.

I do think, though, that the market will always correct eventually.
This is true for a lot of technology. Home computers were marketed at young men, too, but that has been corrected. Video games were almost a completely male market but that's changed, too. Online games like "Farmville" are played by many more women than men (though probably more men are playing "Mafia War," or whatever it's called).

I think you're right, the market will correct.
Actually, I have 40 Facebook friends who are also on my Mafia Wars crew. It's almost exactly 50/50 by gender.

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