I'm browsing around the internet the other day being stalked by my Internet cookies (which eerily suggest articles about things I've been searching in Google) and I guess because I read a lot about the industry, two articles on gender and publishing popped up which I thought were really interesting.
The first was an article about how books by women about women are FAR less likely to win major literary awards than books by men about men. Duh. I mean, the publishing industry is dominated by male senior editors and authors...and really white male authors. I don't think stating that fact is going to give anyone a heart attack. It's just a simple truth. A sad truth. Certainly additional food for thought in the discussion about diversity in publishing.
Slightly disheartened by that article, I ran into this next one that said in 2018, a UK publisher has vowed to publish titles by women only. Zero titles by men. This was a challenge by novelist Shami Chakrabarti to even the score for women in publishing. Now granted it's a small publisher that I think publishes less than 20 titles a year, but it really got me to thinking about what would happen if even ONE of the Big 5 limited their titles to only women authors for one year. Can you imagine how that might change the literary landscape and the kind of much needed exposure such a move would give to long ignored female authors?
It's an intriguing thought, even if completely unrealistic for this market. I mean, I've watched with awe and admiration as Jennifer Weiner railed against the New York Times for not reviewing "chick lit" titles--or more accurately stated, titles by women about women. She's been relentless but I totally get it. Not that I want to male bash, because some of my favorite authors are men, but c'mon...as a female author I get it. I mean if I put a man's picture on the back of my J.J. McCall spy thrillers and claimed he was the author, sadly I do think I would get way more sales, even though I have more real-life experience than 90% of the male authors who write in the genre.
Look at what they told J.K. Rowling about using her androgynous name...you know, like S.D. Skye. Even in a few of my reviews, some readers thought I was male. Of course they did, I mean Russian spies vs the FBI--there aren't many female authors that cover that territory.
But can you imagine if just for one year, the New York Times only reviewed titles by female authors? Not only the joy that it would bring to the Jennifer Weiners of the world but the level of exposure it would give to women authors across this country. The mere thought gives makes me giddy.
I'd go a step further. What if for one year, the major publishers and New York Times put their money where their mouths are and pledged to publish and review for one year all segments of the publishing community that have been largely underserved--women, asians, latinos, African Americans, indie authors, etc. etc.
I don't know about you, but that's a year in publishing I wish I could live to see. Someone should really start a petition.