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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An Addendum to Yesterday's Post

Yesterday, I wrote this blog: My Reaction to the Gender Coverup, and in reaction to this piece by Maureen Johnson - The Gender Coverup - and also this piece by Deborah Copaken Kogan, and even this older post by Claudia Gray - "I'm not like other girls." I absolutely stand by everything in the blog I wrote, but I want to clarify a few things.

The first thing is something that Kiersten White mentioned on Twitter. She pointed out - rightfully - that she writes books for teen girls, so her book jackets are marked for teen girls, and that's okay. In fact, that's as it should be. Book covers should be marketed to your audience, and hers - like mine - is predominately female, and predominately teen.

There is nothing wrong with covers like hers or mine, or pink covers, or ones with sparkles and unicorns and lollipops and puppies, if you are writing a book about those things for an audience that likes those things. And because you write for teen girls as opposed to adult males your book isn't automatically inferior.

There are terrible books written for teen girls, but ZOMG there are terrible books written for adult males, just like there's terrible books written on dog training and dieting and psychology and history and every thing under the sun. Some books are bad. Some books are good. The deciding factor about whether books are good or not has to do with how they're written - not if they're written by women or men or for women or men.

I take issue with is two things:
1. That books about serious subjects, like photographing the war, are given "girly" "chick-lit" covers and glib titles instead of serious covers and titles, the way their male counterparts would be.

2. That books with "girly" "chick-lit" covers and subject are considered less than nearly every other type of fiction on the market. Books about romance are considered less than thrillers or action-oriented novels, even though both can be equally compelling and equally trashy.

So that's the moral of the story.

I was angry yesterday, and it makes me sad to hear how many people related to my experience in yesterday's blog. But I do think progress is being made. Eventually, we'll get where we need to be.

12 comments:

  1. I love Kiersten White, and people usually forgot that books, especially her's, contain other genres. Take the Trylle Trilogy, in the 3rd book alone, I can pick out definate aspects of action and even some tragedy, I would even consider it a little bildungsroman! Just because romance is separate story line, people will generally stereotype a book with a love story as the cliché-girly things.

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  2. i agree with both posts and have to say, while reading both, I was struck by our similarities... the problem i struggle with now is being taken seriously as a thriller/suspense author because I use my name and not initials or a pen name... anyone have advice this?

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  3. Be careful that you don't fall into an ugly duckling trap here.

    If you judge the "worth" of female-ish books by looking to media or reviewers who 1) are predominately male 2) like male-ish things and 3) look down on female-ish books, then you are dooming yourself to failure.

    Granted, I'm not a success yet at my writing (by any measure--I am still earning coffee money with my books, not paying bills). But I am writing fantasy under my own (sufficiently girly) name. I have a sci-fi series in the work. Will use my own girly name for that. I also publish steamy romance under my own girly name. I could care less if I ever get reviewed by the NYT, or by our small city newspaper (that seems to prefer lit fic or thrillers, never sci fi, fantasy, or romance). They would be poor judges of my work anyway, just like I would be a poor judge of a nonfiction guide to sports.

    I guess I deal with the gender bias thing every day. I'm a software engineer who works in a male-dominated field (maybe 1/10 of my coworkers are ever female, usually fewer), and in a very male-dominated field of engineering. I'm blonde. I look young. I'm not un-attractive (especially amongst the engineering crowd--lets just say that most are not cover model material). None of those things make me look like the sterotypically geeky male coder, and it has happened (multiple times) where someone new has assumed that I'm the secretary. Nothing I do will ever make me a geeky male coder. I just have to do my job, do it well. And sit back and enjoy the looks on men's faces when they realize that I can match or beat their engineering prowess while wearing a skirt. And carrying a pink cell phone, a pink laptop, pink cover on my kindle.

    If you're a swan, look to the swans for judgement, not the ducks. Or better yet, just be the best you that you can be, and quit worrying so much about whether someone else takes you seriously or not.

    (Or, even better still, fix the problem altogether by putting the power of the female-dominated publishing industry behind the task of creating new media and reviewers that don't display such an obvious gender bias. Leave the old boys to their club and work on creating a new start that includes everyone)

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  4. I really appreciate these past two blog posts. On the flip side, it isn't just women who come up against gender bias when it comes to writing. When you look at the majority of the people who write romance/paranormal romance, it's true, as Ms. Hocking says, that the back bone is female writers. Thus, when I started talking to some friends and family about my work on a potential paranormal romance, they gave me funny looks because I am a man. Shouldn't I be writing a thriller where the President needs to be rescued, or a horror novel? Something geared more towards a male crowd? It is daunting to think about how important something like a name is in the self-publishing world right now, with everything so immediate. Do readers, of either gender, judge the book by the author's name and gender instead of on the merit of the work itself? It's tough, and something that we all need to overcome. Best of luck to all writers and readers trying to overcome gender bias!

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    Replies
    1. I think the mystery of who theauthor is can pull some weight for sure... Of course eventually, as you gain popularity people want to know more about you. It's fun to learn about my fav authors, it's exciting. When I fall in love with a good read, don't care if it's a male or female author, I'm going to want that book in my life!

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  7. how many people related to my experience in yesterday's blog. But I do think progress is being made. Eventually, we'll get where we need to be.

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  8. hey i finished the my blood approves series last year and i thought it was AMAZING and i have re-read the series so many times (i know there are gazillions of others who fee the same way)!! i have read loads of books in the paranormal teen fiction genre but your series has to be my absolute favourite by far!!!! you are such a talented writer and i am really looking fordward to reading your other serieses :) x i know you have had a hard time with 'swear' but who cares? although another book would be amazing, i don't think it needs a 5th book, the series is fine as it is :). please ignore hate mail about it because you know deep down that if you got everyone who read the series to tell you how they felt about it, the positive feedback would MASSIVELY oughtweigh the bad xx anyways, thankyou and i hope you are proud of the series..you are my insparation! x

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