A Reviewing Problem: Women Genre Authors Less Likely to be Reviewed

From time to time, you’ll hear bouts of outrage from literary circles. Lately, the spats seem to be about who is getting reviewed.

Overwhelmingly, the arguments are that books by women are reviewed less frequently, particularly in the biggest platforms. Recently, there was another tiff, when a magazine showed that female genre authors (science fiction and fantasy) were having the same troubles (so it’s not just a “chick” book issue).

The most recent breakdown is a little confusing, and it’s hard to tell where the bias may be originating (is it because review publishers are picking books by men? Is it because men are reviewers? Is it because fewer women are getting published in the first place? I haven’t gotten good answers to those questions).

I have to say, as a genre writer who happens to be a woman? That sucks.

But I review what I read. My main way to choose a book to read (and therefore review) is  mostly “hey, what is lying around that I haven’t read yet”? Lately there have been subjects I’ve been researching, so that has meant that I picked certain books, but I did not choose them based on the author or their gender. It was all subject matter.

That said, out of the 12 books I’ve read so far this year (when I got serious about doing reviews regularly), only 3 were written by women (A Practical Wedding; Quiet; Publishing and Marketing Realities). If we’re stretching, we can add Saga, a comic I read religiously and which is drawn by Fiona Staples–but it’s written by Brian K. Vaughn, so that’s partial credit at best.

Should I be choosing my books to read based on the gender of the writer? I don’t think so. But then how can I–as someone who reviews things sometimes–help contribute to the review-pool for female genre writers like myself? It’s a tricky thing to think about.

What do you think about the problem of insufficient reviews for women writers?


Filed under Publishing, Reviews, writing

6 responses to “A Reviewing Problem: Women Genre Authors Less Likely to be Reviewed

  1. I can honestly say that I have reviewed more books by women than by men this year, and probably the year before. It’s not something that I set out to do, it’s just that I happen to like Urban Fantasy, and it seems that most of the people writing in that genre are women.

  2. Most of the books that I read are written by women as I read in the Romance genre and I tend to review those. However your points are really interesting and not something that I’d ever considered before so I shall definitely keep a look out on this now – and if I read a book written by a female, I shall do my best to review it!

    • Yeah, romance and YA books are disproportionately written by women. It’s the “elite” genres like literary fiction or the “men’s” genres like science fiction that are overwhelmingly male…. And more likely to get reviewed. So keep on keepin’ on: reviewing romance is important, too!

  3. I believe it is worth the effort to deliberately seek out authors from a diverse demographic (race and gender in this case). It not only helps ensure they get exposure, it also exposes you to things you may not otherwise experience. It is easy to fall into the habit of ‘these are the authors I love and will keep reading’ or even ‘this is my genre and I’ll read nothing else’. Intention will keep you from falling into that hole.

  4. Pingback: K. Ferrin | A Light in the Dark – How Writers Lead Social Change

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