If so, you're probably not reading this today. If that's so, hope you had a great day yesterday.
Over the past several years, I've been interviewed on Novel Rocket several times and have occasionally written articles about the writing craft. Starting today, I guess you better get used to me. I've been invited to be a monthly contributor.
Thought I'd start off with something I'm curious about. The idea of men writing fiction. What's got me thinking about this is an honor I received last week when ACFW announced the finalists for this year's Carol Awards. I was thrilled to find my name on that list for my 5th novel, The Discovery (best Historical Fiction category). I've won 3 Carols so far, but I'd happily welcome a fourth.
The following day, Jerry Jenkins pointed out to me that I was the only male author in the list of finalists. I didn't know that. Read the list over and, sure enough, Jerry was right.
I'm kinda used to being in the minority by now (my first novel came out in 2009). It's readily apparent that far more women read and write fiction than men. Surveys I've read suggest an 80/20 ratio. That feels about right when I attend my monthly Word Weaver's critique group and local ACFW chapter. And I know whenever I attend a writing conference I never stand in line at the restroom.
But events of this past week have got me wondering if we might be dealing with a bigger problem than we see on the surface. Could there be any underlying issues fueling this gender gap?
Improving Our Chances
It stands to reason that if 80% of the buying fiction audience are women, then a significant percentage of women will need to "cross over" and buy books written by men, if the men are ever going to make it financially as authors. This poses two questions:
- Are male fiction authors writing the kind of books women want to read (and writing them well enough)?
- Do some women buyers struggle with a "prejudice" and only buy books written by other women?
But I've experienced a good deal of prejudice, myself (if that's the right word). I've lost count of the emails I've received from women who tell me they love my books now, but admit they avoided them on the shelf until after a friend recommended me. This even happened with my current book series, co-authored with Gary Smalley. When Gary was on the hunt to find a fiction author to work with on this new series, my publisher sent a box of books to his executive secretary to review. She later told me, apologetically, that I was the only male author represented in the box and, because of that, she read my books last.
Let's Fix This
So ladies...do we have a problem here? If so, how big is it? What can male fiction authors do to increase this "crossover effect" (get you buying more of our books)? Is it our covers? Our titles? The genre we're writing in? Is it the writing itself? If so, what's the fix?
Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 8 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Dance.