Monday, July 02, 2007

In Search of...Men's Fiction

Thanks for the update. With the instantaneous nature of the Internet, a six-month old announcement on a web site is considered ancient history - that's why I asked.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new information on your site regarding what publishers and what your agency will be looking for in prospective

But let me guess. I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm going to take a shot at it based on my experience in the publishing business. Now remember this is only my theory:

The publishing business is dominated by thirty something women who are mainly interested in romance, finding the right guy, what it takes to be perfect.

The majority of book buyers are forty and fifty something women who desperately want romance in their lives because their husbands are most likely fat and maybe bald, boring and could care less about romance. Their husbands have definitely traveled to Mars while they are still stuck here on earth. They all have this common thread that they sew together in popular books that deal with matters of the heart. So, if you can write to that market and touch a chord in people's heart, you may have a best seller.

The big thing in publishing is women's lit, chick lit, hen lit...well, what about men's lit? Where's that genre? Books that get into the heart and soul of men and their 21st century problems with woman, with jobs, with careers, with children. Maybe, those areas are too boring to get into, besides real men don't read novels - that's a woman's thing and maybe that notion should change, too.

Well, now, that's a lot to chew on. I'll have to ponder that all, but thought I'd post it and see what comments others may have before I respond.



Kat said...

I've heard the theory before -- though the guy in question seems to have deleted his rant on Ebil Women.

My response this time is just the same: meh.

Yes, there's a lot of chick lit and romance out there, and a lot of women who buy it. Women read more fiction than men. Men -- when they read -- tend to read nonfiction, and they're watching tv and playing video games more than they read.

The implication the poster above makes is that men don't read because there's nothing out there for them to read. I tend to believe the opposite. Whether our culture trains men to see fiction as innately girly (as Ursula LeGuin posited back in the seventies, and as my experience with public school would suggest), or whether for some other reason, men aren't reading, and thus the market for men's fiction is rather smaller than that for women's. Thus, it doesn't get published. The publishing industry isn't in the habit of ignoring vast potential markets.

It's also unwise to base everything on a set of narrow stereotypes. I am a woman. I read a very small amount of romance, a somewhat larger amount of fantasy/sf with romance elements, and quite a lot of stuff that isn't particularly romantic -- like Spin, or The Last Colony, to name two things I've read in the last two weeks. And yet, I remain female. My husband reads much the same stuff I do... including my tiny selection of romance novels. The relevant anatomical bits have not fallen off. People, men or women, like what they like, and that it's "chick lit" or "manly fiction" matters a lot less than some think.

Anonymous said...

If I understand the poster's comments, I would say he(?) is frustrated by the limited choices in men's fiction as driven by the publishing industry. And I, being of sound mind and of the female persuasion, agree.

I grew up reading detective novels, thrillers, horror, old sci-fi. I love "men's" fiction. I wish the genre would return--in it's purest, macho form.

I'm sooo bored with touchy-feel-y characters, coming-of-age stories, flaky zombies and good vampires. And I am soo over the the 6ft. Amazon woman who weighs 100 lbs. and has PHD after her name while she slays the undead or uncovers the serial killer. Argh.

Tom Clancy, where are you?

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