In days gone by, there were writers like George Eliot, George Sand, Currer Bell, Acton Bell, Ellis Bell, A.M.Barnard, P.L.Travers; in modern times there are people like Robin Hobb, P.D. James, J.K.Rowling, Robert Galbraith and so on, who all have one thing in common – they are all women who felt the need to adopt a man’s name or gender neutral initials. We wonder how many men have felt the need to write under a feminine pseudonym?Apparently women authors don’t sell as well because boys and men are not comfortable picking up books written by women. When we asked amongst our friends, we were told that books by women are more likely to be “filled with pink!” So the ‘cool dudes’ stick with blue. Actually, it seems more like cool dudes do not read at all. Between us we seem to know all of 4 men who admit to reading fiction! Of which the majority will rarely read anything written by a woman, even out of curiosity. One old friend-OF, (After the previous reference to him in our blog post on paperbacks, he has insisted that all future references specify that he is not old in age but merely in the length of time we have known him. Also we have to mention that he is incredibly handsome etc.), is an atypical reader as he will read anything and everything, including the ‘chick lit’ that his wife borrows from the library and he likes the thrillers by women writers like Martina Cole, Kathy Reichs and Lynda la Plante. But as already mentioned, such men are atypical. For most men, women writers are purveyors of either children’s books, soppy, sentimental romances or funny romances. Men however will have no difficulty in watching ‘rom coms’ on TV. Which makes us suspect that the problem is more to do with attention spans than an objection to the content.
LL: Is the problem with the writer being female or the protagonist of the book being female? Would Harry Potter have been as popular with the boys if he had actually been Harriet Potter?
PS: But the girls have no issues reading books about boys. Boys read only Hardy Boys but the girls will read those as well as the Nancy Drews. They seem more willing to accept that either gender can get into interesting situations which make readable books.
LL: But this applies more for fiction. Men who read non-fiction are less likely to be put off by the fact that the author is a woman. And the few men who do read fiction are more genre readers than general readers.
PS: Most men seem to think that reading fiction is a waste of time anyway. Again it goes back to conditioning as boys who read are considered nerdy whereas the girls are not as image conscious. If they like to read, they read and they are more interested in the content than who wrote the book.