I’ve long been a “counter.” When I pick up a book review magazine or newspaper book pages, I scan the headlines. How many female reviewers? How many books by women reviewed?
This began years ago, when I looked at an issue of The New York Review of Books and realized with a shock that there was only one woman represented in the entire issue. For years there were heated discussions on-line by members of the Writers’ Union of Canada.
Recently, VIDA, an association for women in literary arts, published shocking graphs showing the inequality clearly. For example:
An on-line article on Slate, “Women at Work,” concludes:
The world of novels, we often hear, is a feminine one: book buyers are predominantly women; novels and memoirs by women and about women’s lives often do extremely well commercially. (Think of Eat, Pray, Love and The Lovely Bones.) So you might shrug and say: what’s the problem? But VIDA’s study raises questions about how seriously women writers are taken and how viable it is for them to make a living at writing.
What’s the problem? What do you think?
Since having written my first book at age 63 and trying to break into the writing world, it has become clear to me that I might not become successful within this lifetime. I have contacted all Canadian publishers and was unsuccessful. I then self published as an E book. Now I contact people who might do a review, but again, with very little success. Not coming from any of the Fine Arts academic programs, it seems the doors are tightly shut. Of course I realize that first, quality of writing is required. Honestly, I read a lot and found that my writing is not justifying such tightly shut doors.
On the other hand, my readers are women; generally these women are voracious readers. I see a lack of confidence in women to just review my book already, as they think others better do that.
Men are also better sales reps for their work and I have already given up.
Johanna van Zanten
I’m sorry that you feel you must give up. Perseverance is so important. Indeed, it’s the key. Think of all the successful books that had 100 rejections.
On the other hand, how do you define success? You’ve written a book (bravo!), and you’ve published it (bravo! bravo!).