Welcome to our weekly feature,
Information from both the author’s and the reader’s points of view concerning the publishing frontier known as e-publishing.
This week we’re thrilled to have with us as our guest novelist Leona DeRosa Bodie! So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and enjoy!
Leona D. Bodie responds to our question of the week: “The Distaff Side –Is e-publishing Helping More Female Authors to Be Published and Reviewed?”
E-Publishing and Reviews — Open Access or Gender Gap?
Today’s technologies level the playing field, focusing greater attention than ever before on the publishing resources now available for all writers, regardless of their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, handicap, religion and national origin. For sure, the e-book revolution is cross generational, here to stay and its launch has upended the publishing industry. For way too long, just a few guided what came to market. Now everyone has equal access to publishing. New devices and the means of consuming content are changing the industry. Today’s technologies mean mass market exposure is easier and faster with less investment for readers, authors and publishers. So the simple answer is yes, e-publishing is helping more emerging female writers get their voices heard. Writers today have never stood in front of more opportunity than they do right now.
“Writers no longer need permission to follow their dreams or publish edgier, riskier — and for the reader, more rewarding — material,” says Sean Platt, co-author of Yesterday’s Gone. Now I hate to throw some weeds on that green lawn, but I’m reminded e-publishing and reviewing are two vastly different landscapes. Although we’ve determined the e-book revolution is the great equalizer, can we say the same of the publishing industry in general? At the root of this matter, is another question. Is there a gender gap in publishing? Is there a persistent gender gap in coverage of female writers at places that ought to know better?
When I consider e-publishing and reviewing, I see a good- news- bad-news scenario that’s similar to wearing your Sunday best but forgetting to change your dirty panties and boxers. Research shows male writers still dominate the books world and my personal experience supports that claim as well.
Three years ago, I sent queries, pitching my thriller to several agents. At the time, I thought I did a great job tracking my submissions. Without proper tracking, it’s easy to lose track of when and where a query was sent. My recordkeeping was flawed. I inadvertently sent the exact letter to the same agent within a two-week span: one with my actual name (Leona Bodie) the other with a nom de plume (Daniel Bodie). Although the same query, exclusive of the sender’s names, they didn’t elicit the same response. Daniel Bodie’s positive response confirmed what I had suspected that female authors are sometimes taken less seriously than male authors.
Consider when Nicholas Sparks writes about women, his books are labeled and categorized as literature, but when female authors writes about women’s lives, their books are listed as either romance or women’s fiction. Statistics fromUS campaigners Vida, an organization for women in the literary arts, confirm dramatic gender imbalance in literary critics and the authors reviewed in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books. In fact, all of the leading literary magazines below focus their review coverage on books written by men, and commission more men than women to write about them. Here’s the breakdown for just a few publications:
Combined ratio of reviews and book reviews: 154 Men to 55 women
Reviewers: 26 men to 19 women; book reviews: 41 books by men to 14 books by women
Reviewers: 27 men to 6 women; book reviews: 46 books by men to 21 books by women
The New Republic
Reviewers: 49 men to 13 women; book reviews: 55 books by men to 9 books by women
The New York Review of Books
Reviewers: 200 men to 39 women; book reviews: 306 books by men to 59 books by women
The New York Times Book Review
Reviewers: 438 men to 295 women; book reviews: 524 books by men to 283 books by women
“In the world of novels, “Vida says, “book buyers are predominantly women; novels and memoirs by women and about women’s lives often do extremely well commercially. (Think of Eat, Pray, Love and The Lovely Bones.) So you might shrug and say—what’s the problem? But VIDA’s study raises questions about how seriously women writers are taken and how viable it is for them to make a living at writing.”
However, women are making inroads and publishers are noticing. In closing, let me share some inspiring words from Giovanni Gelati, Trestle Press Publisher as well as Writer of the Fictional Book Blog Gelati’s Scoop and Host of the Blogtalk Radio Show The G-ZONE. “The new age of publishing knows no gender,” he said. “It is up to the author to seize the opportunity ahead of them and women are doing that in increasing numbers now. Why not? They have a narrative that needs to be heard!” Wise words indeed!
About Author Leona DeRosa Bodie:
Leona Bodie is currently Vice President and serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Writers Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization of 1,200 members. Her career took her from high school English teacher to a biotechnology executive and president of the Greater Miami Society of Human Resource Management before she shifted to writing books. She’s the author of the digital short “Cocooned in Darkness,” the upcoming book FEAR THE WHISPERS, and her debut thriller SHADOW CAY, is the recipient of 4 literary awards. For more details about Leona Bodie and her books, please visit: www.leonabodie.com.