Monday, 9 September 2013

Do You Gender Discriminate? & Other News

Last week I followed a fascinating debate regarding gender bias in reading. A Facebook friend referred to a man who upon discovering his favourite author was a woman, declared he would never buy a book by her again. I'd like to bring the topic up here by asking, does the gender of an author stop you reading a book?

My answer is a resounding no. I can honestly say whether an author is a man or woman never has or will be a factor in choosing a book. For me, the deciding factors are genre, blurb, and I will admit it, sometimes cover art.

It's common thinking that female authors are not seen as doing so well in some genres traditionally associated with men, such as thriller and science fiction. There are authors who have been asked by publishers to use an initial instead of their first name, so as to disguise their gender. Some indie authors do the same.

Gender bias also affects genres traditionally associated with the female gender, such as romance or chick lit. In last week's discussion, some people admitted that they won't or don't like reading romance books written by men. Male authors are seen as not being able to get the female character in the same way a woman can.

While I think it is true that we do understand our own sex more than the opposite, for me it isn't about getting the gender right. It's about the character, setting, and plot. It's about the world they inhabit.

And is gender bias really that prevalent? I asked a few friends the question I started this post with. The response was mixed. Around half agreed with me - the gender of the author makes no difference. The other half stated gender did play an important part in choosing a book. Even if a book came highly recommended, if it wasn't written by their preferred sex, they wouldn't read it. Worse still, the gender of the person recommending it also affected their decision.

So, where does that leave the writer? If we're striking out into what are seen as genres traditionally dominated by one gender, do we hide our identity? Or do we simply say, accept me or not?

I think you probably already know my answer to the final question. What about you?

Other News

If you haven't already heard, science fiction and fantasy author, M Pax's annual Realms Faire will be happening this November 11th - 15th. For endless fun and competitions, sign up for one or more of the events taking place that week. I will see you there.

Following the difficulties I experienced updating both of my eBooks on Amazon, Passing Time and Taking Time are now available again in the form of a second edition. They've both been re-formatted and had cover revamps. Other eBook formats will follow soon.

I'll be back on Wednesday with a guest post by Blood Family author, Mark Knight. I'll also be guesting on his and Jessica Bell's blogs. Until then, happy reading and writing.


  1. Glad you're making progress with getting your writing and publications back on track.

    YAY for Realms Faire!

    And I like a good book. I admit I do love a good cover but the blurb is the final factor for me. I don't give a rat's patootey about the author's gender. Just make it an enjoyable book :-)

  2. It doesn't matter to me who wrote the book. C.S. Friedman is a great fantasy author, and she's a woman. I just want a good story.

  3. Congrats on your new release coming up. So exciting for you.

    I was surprised when I found out that one of my favorite gothic romance authors was a man. He'd been asked by his publisher to do them because he wrote strong women. Didn't change how I felt about the books.

    I think women are more flexible about this, generally, than men are. I'm not sure if they're afraid it will rub off on them or something.

  4. Isn't it strange that gender should come into it? A good book's a good book. I have my favourites, both men and women. I've read some good thrillers by the 'gentler' sex, although thrillers by men tend to be rougher, less niceties along the way. Jodi Picoult, whose books are marketed as 'women's fiction' claims 47% of her readers are men. Go figure.
    Good post Ellie. I actually came by to see the post for Hart, but am happy to read a thoughtful post.

  5. These things quickly become an issue without anybody noticing it - so thanks for posting this.

    I'd say that genres have gender bias, not writing in general. I would hope that I'm not biased and when choosing a book, I'm mostly interested in the blurb (and yes, cover art).

    Nico @ Leaf ♦ Pub

  6. What sort of person in the 21st Century decides a book's worth on the basis of the author's gender?!?! :-( How upsetting! :-(

    Sexism at all levels thoroughly depresses and annoys me. It is totally illogical, ignorant, unnecessary and vile, vile, vile. Stamp it out now, please!

    Take care

  7. I find that kind of predudice really hard to understand. Presumably that man stopped talking ot his mother when he found out she was a woman :)

  8. I'm absolutely with you. What should it matter? I find it genuinely hard to understand that someone wouldn't read a recommended book because of the author's gender. I mean, really?!

  9. I think it's somewhat unavoidable that people will bring their prejudices (whatever they might be) with them when choosing books. Enough authors live up to the stereotype of their gender to make some readers not bother taking risks. It's a shame but people will go with what they know, or think they know.

    Moody Writing

  10. Good topic Ellie. I admit I do have presupposed notions about gender styles, but nothing that would stop me from reading a book.

  11. I posted about this before, although it was more focused on reading behaviors. When I was a high school English teacher, my male students would NOT read a book written by a female or even about a female. At the very least, they are VERY reluctant.

    My female students didn't care at all.

    I think there's a bunch of different reasons, but the biggest reason is probably male stubbornness. Guys don't think a story with a female protagonist will be interesting. And a book written by a woman is definitely going to be filled with stuff guys don't care about.

    Men can be such a pain.

  12. Unless it's a nonfiction topic designed for women or something like that, I never gave thought to the gender of a writer. Interesting.

  13. Interesting debate! I think people over-internalize writing in general. There are so many "mechanical" aspects to what we do that I think it's mostly a function of what you do, and not who you are. I write some pretty messed up characters and situations. I hope that doesn't mean I'm more qualified to be a sociopath, etc. :)

  14. I don't care if a horror author is male or female. However, I have to admit that when I was 14 and reading romance novels, I wouldn't have bought one written by a man. (But I was young and stupid!) lol

  15. I'm with you Ellie. I don't care what the author is as long as the book is good. However, I'm not surprised by that man on facebook. This has traditionally been a problem more so for female authors going all the way back to Mary Shelly and beyond. I think this is why female authors use pseudonyms or initials, like J.K. Rowling.

  16. I don't care about gender, age, ... if it's a good book, it's a book book. But that is why I now use my initials. Admittedly, I never look at authors photos when I read there book. Not because I think it will influence me, but when I read the words I create a picture in my head of the author (it almost always looks like the MC LOL).

  17. I've never had a problem reading books penned by both genders. That was an easy answer. I don't understand why anyone would be bias. A good book is a good book.

  18. I have never found an author's gender to be an issue with me, and fortunately I haven't run into too many people with this bias. I once had a prospective reader tell me, "I don't read male-generated literature," but I can't believe that's really a prevalent thought from either sex. It's kind of ridiculous, really.

    About half of the stories I'm publishing these days are from women, and they're Sci-Fi & Fantasy, which were once male-dominated genres.

  19. The basic answer is no, it doesn't make a difference. But I was surprised to recently find out that Wen Spencer is female, when I'm in the middle of one of her books.


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