Publishers have systemically ignored women who write
That might sound a bit melodramatic but they certainly haven’t flocked to women writers begging us for our words of wisdom, our expertise and our insight. The opposite has been true, in fact. However, through the centuries, we’ve found ways to circumvent their walls and ignorance and produce successful writers the likes of the Bronte sisters, and such recent successes as J.K. Rowlings, R. L. James, and others. Traditional publishers have still chosen to publish manuscripts written by men more often than those written by women.
Through the centuries, women who write have been forced to use male pseudonyms to gain attention and get published and haven’t been taken seriously by traditional publishers. Today, this is no longer tolerated. We are determined to be heard, to be seen, to be published and to succeed as authors.
Controversy surrounds how women authors are reviewed, the timing they’re reviews appear (before or during book launch or well after launch) and how often they’re reviewed. Some male authors have gone so far as to launch personal attacks against women with published work. These attacks not only target their work but their personalities, looks, and lives in general. If you’ve tried to publish and haven’t received the support and feedback from the industry then you know what I’m talking about.
It’s not clear from my research whether the bias in publishing is from an economic assumption that books by women won’t make money, an assumption that they won’t sell because women don’t write as well as men or an ages old thought that only men should write. As in every issue, there are dozens of opinions ranging from “conspiracies against women” to “there is no issue”.
Regardless, statistics show that women haven’t been represented well in the past, we’ve been pushed into stereotypical genre’s and have been deemed “difficult” if we push back against publishers who try to pigeonhole us.
There’s good news for women authors
The Vida organization has been counting the stats for a number of years now. Their early counts showed an abysmal disparity, some as low as 13% women represented in 2011. The most recent count in 2014 shows positive movement in the industry in the past couple of years but there’s still work to be done.
More women are being hired in editorial positions. More women are seeing their life’s work published, whether they do it themselves or they contract with a traditional publisher. More work by women is being reviewed and those reviews are being published in recognized literary publications.
Women need support and respect to publish successfully
We must keep the momentum going so more women are able to publish their work, reach the public and be successful published authors. Women who write demand respect as authors, dignity in our reviews, and proper resources with trustworthy partners to help get our messages out to those who need them. We require affordable support, unbiased and timely reviews and an industry that recognizes our contributions.
Women who write:
- Have a unique message to share, sometimes quite different than our male counterparts
- Want control over our writing and publishing careers
- Want to hear advice from our peers and learn from those who came before us
- Want to work with people and companies that listen, pay attention to our needs and deliver what we want
- Want to trust those whose support we seek and not be treated like a number
Have you been struggling to get your work noticed? Have you had to take some unusual or innovative steps to be heard, to get your work out, to publish? What more is needed for women to be successful in the publishing industry? Tell us here. Let your voice be heard in the comments below.
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