Monday, December 18, 2006

The Writer Ratio

People's perceptions of who reads what are definitely skewed. But what about authors on the publishing end? Do authors self-segregate into particular genres or do editors have some say in what kind of author get published?

I came across the Broad Universe Bean Count which has some very interesting statistics on how many women and men are published in the speculative fiction field. Of course, compared to the romance genre (where most men still work under pseudonyms or with female co-authors), science fiction and fantasy appears to be a bastillion of equality. But nonetheless, the numbers aren't that great. It's true that over the years, the percentage of women winning awards has gone up, but for most of them, the split is still not fifty-fifty.

Some other observations: Male reviewers prefer to review books authored by other males. The majority of stories in anthologies of speculative fiction are by male authors. However, is it possible that this is also a function of how many female speculative fiction writers are present in the first place? The membership of SFWA is not an accurate indicator of how many writers there are--you have to get published first before you can be a member. But according to Strange Horizons, about a third of their submissions were from female writers. I am very curious as to whether this is true or the exception compared to submission statistics to other magazines, agents, and editors.

And another question: Does the sex of the authors also influence what kind of readers are drawn to a genre? With the quality of writing being equal as well as the male/female ratio of writers in whatever genre--would this equalize the readership as well? Or will people still be too hung up on convention and formula to read a book for the story?

(Cross-posted at Syaffolee.)

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