Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Battle of the Sexes! And Species!

Yes, it's that time of year again. Okay, it's not. It's random. But I've been seeing some rumblings on the intertubes about how women writers aren't getting the reviews men writers get (well, duh), and how men prefer to read books written by men and women by women, etc. So I took a look at what I've been reading and writing, because I haven't done that in a while (here, specifically; I know I have a second post like this but I can't find it).

First I looked through my reviews at Skunk Cat for the last year, tossing out a few reviews of books I'd reread instead of reading for the first time. And...I was shocked. See, I read 57 books by women writers between February 2010 and February 2011 and only 32 books by men.

Then I went through and counted those books by genre, and that cleared things up for me. I read 18 fantasy books by women last year, 15 fantasy books by men; I read 15 YA/MG books by women last year, 9 YA/MG books by men. That's fairly evenly split. In fact, between February 2010 and October 2010, I only read slightly more books by women than by men.

But in November 2010, I started reading mysteries again after a long absence from the genre. Mysteries are generally quick reads and I was reading entire series at a time. But I read 21 mysteries written by women and one mystery written by a man. One.

Part of the problem is that I like cozy mysteries, which is a subgenre pretty well dominated by women writers. But I do recall, back in my 20s when I was reading mysteries almost exclusively, that I was aware even then that I was reading hardly any books by men. In fact, I would try to read cozy mysteries by men and wouldn't finish them because they just weren't all that good (to me). Obviously I need to revisit my prejudices and try more mysteries by men.

Then I turned to my writing. I haven't been writing many stories lately, so I went back to September of 2009 for my count (because I remember what I wrote since then because most of it is still waiting to sell). Since 9/09 I've written three short stories, three novellas, and two novels. Two have male main characters, five female, and one has both a male and a female main character. If I include works in progress, though (meaning novels I intend to finish within the next year or two), I can add three female and three male main characters. Best of all, of all these main characters--finished and WIP--9 of 15 are human! That's pretty good for me.

So except for the mystery thing, I think I'm doing pretty good.


Paula RC said...

When I pick up a book I don't look to see which sex has written it. I read the back to see if I woulod be interested in the plotline or story.

As long as it's written by a human then I'm interested. Though it would be very interesting to know whether any other creature on this planet can and would tell a better tale...:-) Just let me know if you do come across any, K.C

Cate Gardner said...

A quick mental count and I'm certain my ratio of stories/books is a healthy balance between the gals and the guys.

As Jarmara said, its the plot that concerns me not whether the author is male or female. I suspect most writers are the same (at least I hope they are--and the ones we know definitely are--because we know the best people :D)

K.C. Shaw said...

Jarmara--I wouldn't mind reading a book written by a chimp or other great ape. It would be cool to see the similarities and differences of their perspective. Tarzan written from the ape's point of view!

Cate--I don't know why my mystery reading skews so female. I'm going to the used book store today and I intend to buy a lot of mysteries by men, because you're right, it should be all about the story.

Aaron Polson said...

Men just enjoy blood with their mysteries and therefore male writers skew toward dark crime or horror.

Just a thought. I'm possibly quite wrong...but it would explain the cozy mystery thing, wouldn't it?

Word Verification: werep

I think it stands for "wereporcupine" the protag for your next book. ;)

K.C. Shaw said...

I would totally read a mystery solved by a wereporcupine. :)

I'm going to try to find a good, gritty police procedural. Wereporcupines are optional.

Fox Lee said...

I'm the opposite, I tend to gravitate towards male writers. Then again, it's been said that I'm a dude ; )

K.C. Shaw said...

As long as you and Ying are happy, I will not question it. :p