Does the gender of an author influence your book buying decisions?
Or more directly…
Do men make a conscious decision not to buy books by women? And vice versa.
Recently having published an ebook this is a question that occurred to me as I looked at ways to market my work. My ebook has so far been read and enjoyed by men as well as women but I have no way of working out from the statistics Amazon Kindle provide of the percentage of male/female readers who actually buy the book other than if they leave a review. Even then the nickname they use to leave a review may not necessarily be gender specific.
I understand from searches I have carried out on the Internet that statistically women read more books than men but it is difficult to find out the reasons behind this more accurately without doing a much wider survey.
The men I know tend to read factual books, biographies and detective novels. I asked a good friend of mine if he would be willing to proof read my short story, he is a retired English teacher and I thought it might amuse him to do so. His immediate reaction was ‘I would find it difficult not to assess the content and compare it to the works of say John Steinbeck or Ernest Hemingway.’ Now, forgetting that the comment might be construed or misconstrued as outright snobbery, what interested me most was that he immediately mentioned two male authors. I have lent him books by male authors I enjoy which he also enjoyed but I must further quiz him further on which female authors he has read and admired and whether he might have any prejudice with regard to gender in literature.
Of course if I ask him outright, I am sure he will fervently deny any such prejudice, and to be fair I very much doubt he would have realised it even if he had. However, I will further probe in a subtle way and see what the real answer might be.
Then there is another male friend, who is an ardent fan of detective novels, spy thrillers, biographies and such like. So far he has enjoyed all the stories I have written, apart from one. The question is however, would he have picked them out if he didn’t know the author personally? And this query goes for all the other male friends I have too. A couple of them would only ever consider picking up a technical manual or if really pushed a Jeffrey Archer novel.
Of course my small circle is hardly enough to make a wider assumption that men are put off by reading female authors. But it does beg the question why exactly did J K Rowling and undoubtedly many other women writers decided to choose not to reveal their feminine first name? Or why did they write under a masculine pseudonym? If more women than men buy books why would they feel the need to?
Is it really a problem if men don’t want to read books by women and vice versa?
Both sides would be missing out on a great deal if they decided what books to buy based on gender.
I decided to examine my own preferred reading over the years and felt a little bit surprised to note that most of the authors I have chosen to read have been male. I don’t think this necessarily would have been because statistically there are more male than female authors.
I didn’t consciously choose male authors for any other reason than that the subject matter or culture appealed. Perhaps reading is more about personal choice in relation to content than the sex of the author who wrote the book.
If you are interested to read further on this topic, here are a couple of links you may find of interest.
Whether you are a reader or a writer, I would be very interested to receive your comments with your opinions or own personal experience regarding the above.