Males vs Females

When you think about your favorite authors, who are they–male or female?

I did a little experiment on Crime Space.  I picked 20 random guys and 20 random gals and read their “favorite author” lists. I guess the results shouldn’t be surprising, but still…very interesting for those of us trying to appeal to both genders in our writing.  Here’s the numbers:

Gal readers preference average:  11 female authors/ 2 male authors

Guy readers preference average:  1 female author/  13 male authors

Is this simply because male writers dominate the thriller field, where blood, guns and sex rule? Or is it more than that? Will they simply not pick up a book if they know it’s written by a woman because of expectations?

Guys, please weigh in.  Tell me under what circumstances do you give female writers a chance?

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  1. #1 by lxndr on June 22, 2009 - 6:40 pm

    I’ll admit I’m not a crime/thriller reader very much. But in my more general reading habits, when it comes to books, usually I look at titles and back cover blurbs more than I look at authors (unless it happens to be an author I’ve already experienced). There’s no conscious sexism on my part, and I’ve recommended authors of either gender to people in the past.

    On the other hand, there might be another factor you may not be considering. If we’re looking at ‘favorite’ authors, these people may have read all over the map, and are simply choosing the ones that “speak to them” best. And perhaps it’s not the most surprising thing in the world that like attracts like.

    It’d be a more interesting case study (to me!) if we saw their selection process, or at least a sampling of books they’d read, before we saw the averages of ‘favorite’.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

  2. #2 by soesposito on June 22, 2009 - 7:46 pm

    You bring up a good point here. Maybe it just comes down to the fact that we like stories we can relate to. I think women give more weight to emotion and feelings in their thought process and therefore their writing, maybe that’s just not interesting to male readers. Thanks for commenting!

  3. #3 by Anticrombie on June 22, 2009 - 8:03 pm

    All I can say is… wow. I looked at the authors I enjoy… and they are almost all male. Never even noticed that.

    And it would seem that of the women writers that I enjoy, most were of the ‘classic’ variety or ‘best sellers’. I even picked male authors when I could not tell the sex of the author by name (Algermon Blackwood).

    I wonder, however, if it has more to do with the cover artwork (yes, I will judge a book by the cover). Women tend to illustrate their books with more feminine lines, while men tend to have much bolder graphics and artwork. This dichotomy would explain the men choosing male authors, but women will vary more into the male-dominated architecture of design, so the split should be much closer (60-40).

    Interesting observation.

  4. #4 by soesposito on June 23, 2009 - 1:50 am

    Well, I guess that proves that it’s not a conscious choice at least. And the book covers would be a good point, because that’s the first thing that catches my eye, also…except the authors don’t get to design their own covers.

  5. #5 by Felicity on June 23, 2009 - 2:39 am

    Huh. Looking at my own blog entry, out of the ten authors on my list I really like to read, two are female and eight are male.

    I agree with the theory that women writers are more emotion-oriented in content, and that women readers would gravitate to that.

    I think male writers write more humour (just as male people are more likely to make jokes in conversation), so that might explain my results (because I’m quite humour-oriented).

    Felicity

  6. #6 by soesposito on June 24, 2009 - 12:39 am

    Yeah, I have noticed the male writers use humor more, especially dark humor. I don’t usually gravitate toward it, but I do like to write it once in awhile. In fact, my editor unleashed story should have a humor tag on it because I don’t think anyone’s getting it. 😛

  7. #7 by J. M. Strother on June 27, 2009 - 3:12 pm

    Gender of the author matters not at all to me. I just want a good read. Not a mystery, but the best book I’ve read in the past year was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. But then I eat quiche too. 😉

    In the mystery field, Laurie R. King is one of my favorites.
    ~jon

  8. #8 by soesposito on June 27, 2009 - 3:39 pm

    Hi, Jon- That’s the kind of answer I like to hear…lol. I haven’t read any Laurie King, but The Language of Bees is on my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation and for stopping by!

  9. #9 by J. M. Strother on June 27, 2009 - 9:27 pm

    I like her Mary Russell books OK, but her other novels are better, in my opinion. The Kate Martinelli series portrays a modern day cop in San Francisco. Then there are her “unattached” books – stand alones – which I think are her best. My all time favorite is Folly.
    ~jon

  10. #10 by Christian on July 3, 2009 - 6:41 pm

    I make my decisions based on emotional input of the moment, and therefore read many MANY women authors. I find that not limiting myself gives me a great deal more to choose from. I love Marge Piercy, Carol Berg, Audrey Niffeneggar, Dorothy Allison, Patricia Cornwell, Trudi Canavan, Rob Thurman (short for Roberta), and many others. However, I also like strong, muscular prose that men often infuse their work with. So, it’s a choice-of-the-moment for me. Hope this doesn’t skew your anwers! 🙂

  11. #11 by Christian on July 3, 2009 - 6:42 pm

    Oh…I forgot Ann Patchett and Jodi Picoult.

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