Friday, December 21, 2012

Follow Friday - One of My Ancestors May Have Been a Sooner in the Land Rush of 1889

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - JC's Book Haven and Lite-Rate-Ture!.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What have you learned from book blogging that you didn't know before about the publishing industry?

I didn't know how tilted towards appealing to women the publishing industry was. Before I started book blogging, I assumed that people who regularly bought and read books were more or less evenly distributed between the sexes. But once I began book blogging, it became clear to me that a clear majority of regular readers are women, and that this has resulted in a publishing industry that tries to produce works that will entice that majority to continue to buy their product.

The first indication I had that this is true is simply the demographics of book bloggers. The book blogging world is overwhelmingly female. Although I can think of several dozen book blogs off the top of my head, I can only think of a single book blog other than this one that is primarily written by a male writer. Sure, there are numerous author blogs on which a male author tries to get exposure for himself and his work, but almost every book blog dedicated to reading, reviewing, and promoting books seems to be written by women.

The second indication resulted from talking with authors. I remember listening to Catherine Asaro talk about her writing career. Asaro, for those who don't know, is a very successful science fiction writer, with a couple dozen science fiction novels published. But when she was approached by a romance novel publisher, she said that the advance she was offered to write a novel in that genre was substantially larger than any advance she had ever been offered for writing science fiction. And Asaro is a very successful science fiction author - having written the very successful Skolian Saga, won a Nebula award and served as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America. But despite her proven track record in science fiction - she was offered a lot more money to write romance. And publishing companies make those offers based upon what they estimate the market for the resulting book will be. The message here is clear: The male-dominated genre of science fiction is substantially smaller than the female-dominated genre of romance. Women read. Men don't.

And that is what I learned from book blogging that I didn't know before: I'm an oddball because I am a man who reads a lot.

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  1. It's okay to be an oddball! ;) I've finally gotten my husband to read more. Not avidly, but more. So yay me! lol

    My FF

    Brandy @ A Little of the Book Life
    ~New Follower~

  2. My hubby reads constantly (of course, he's a writer as well), but he doesn't read "genre" fiction. He primarily reads "literary" fiction and non-fiction.

  3. Hallo Aaron!
    You know, I had the same thoughts as you. I have a group of friends (more guys than girls actually) and we were avid readers since grade school. They read as much as I do and we discuss it a lot, and other people find it strange because: they're guys. Granted, they read more fantasy fiction and science fiction than I do...but ever since I started blogging, I realised that publishers really DO steer towards women-preferred genres. (this is weird too, because I ALSO have a friend who absolutely HATES romance, though she's a girl). I think it's a bit sad, because I'd really like to read more books from the male POV, and read a broader range of genres under YA. I'm not sure if the women-man thing is the same in adult fiction. That's something I need to look into! This is a great post, thanks!

    Oh, and: you ARE an oddball, but a really cool and awesome oddball :) KEEP OF TREKKING!

    P.S. I'm an old follower

  4. your so right, women are as a whole bigger readers than men. i teach in school and i always see the girls with a great YA book, but it is a rare thing to see a guy with a book! but i have never though of how that has changed who authors write for. great post! check out my FF *New Follower* ~ Katie @ Inkk

  5. I've noticed this as well - mostly because I'm writing SF myself, and I'm reading mostly PNR - I've noticed HUGE differences in genres and marketability of these genres.

    Julie~ New Adult Addiction

  6. I was actually just discussing this at lunch with two of my guy friends that really love to read. I am not even certain if the number of readers are predominantly women, or if we are just the more social of the genders about it. At my office, I would say it is half/half gender for the readers, but the women are the ones that get out there and promote the books more. Fantastic answer, and something that I picked up as well. Thank you so much for stopping by my FF. New Follower :D

  7. That's not entirely true; men may read less, but men also read different things than women. Men and boys also tend to be marginalized in media, and women are the trumped-up targeted audience. Guys might be more inclined to read nonfiction such as history or science - how often do new releases in those subjects actually get as much press as a new bestselling romance?

    For what it's worth, I used to work in a bookstore owned by a man, who was a pretty avid reader (but mostly science fiction and various nonfiction). :) You're not alone!

  8. @Brandy Graves: More readers is always a good thing.

  9. @Kristina Makansi: The market for "literary" fiction is pretty small compared to genre fiction, so no matter the gender breakdown of that type of fiction, it doesn't really change the demographics of readers overall by much.

    I have no idea how the market for nonfiction breaks down, but it seems like it would depend on how you define nonfiction. I suppose celebrity tell-all's could be considered nonfiction, but most of those are probably primarily read by women (I can't think of any guys who would read stuff like Tori Spelling's "mommy" books). On the other hand, a lot of political books could also be considered nonfiction, and those are probably read by readers regardless of gender lines.

  10. @Kirthi: Your comment raises an interesting question - do publishers favor books that appeal to female readers because there are more female readers, or do more women read because publishers produce more female appealing fiction? This seems to be almost a chicken-or-the-egg kind of problem.

    I tend to think that businesses mostly follow the market, so I think that they are just chasing the readers. But there is always the chance that the publishing industry is creating its market as well.

  11. @InkkReviews: I think our education system might be at the root of the problem. A guy who is an avid reader in high school is almost always tagged as a geek or a nerd, while a girl who reads may or may not be.

  12. @J. Anne Huss: There are definitely differences in the market for different genres. Science fiction is a genre with limited appeal right now when compared to paranormal romance.

  13. @Jacklyn Canada: You raise a good point. Are women more avid as readers, or merely more vocal? I think that it may be a combination of both, but it is clear that book publishers do market their products to women via women.

  14. @Moonlit Librarian: It isn't just the press releases. It is the advances that publishers are willing to pay authors. For nonfiction the advances are usually pretty small unless the author is a celebrity. People like Bill Clinton are offered large advances, but that's not because of their writing, but because of their fame which is assumed will drive sales of their book.

    But an author who is writing a book that has to stand on its own as a book, without a celebrity connection behind it, will be offered far less. And a romance author will usually be offered a larger advance than a nonfiction author, because the market for romance is larger than the market for nonfiction.

    The key thing to understand is that book publishers don't just pick a number out of thin air when they offer an advance. They choose a number based upon how many copies of the resulting book they think they can sell. And publishers, by their advance offers, have made it clear that they think they can sell far more copies of romance and paranormal romance books than they can sell of science fiction or nonfiction books.

  15. @Bookworm Brandee: And I love women who read books.