Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Author Gender and Review Blogs x2

Last week I wrote this post, where I point to this post that shows some statistics for SFF Review blogs about how many male authors are reviewed vs. female authors and compares those results with the gender of the bloggers. It's a good post and it's an important thing to remember, so I once again encourage all to read it.
Today I was bored, or more correctly procrastinating. So, I wanted to look at things a big differently. Basically, I looked at all the books I've received digitally and physically over the past 6 months or so and I noted the gender of the author. Now, this is not a good sample in that some of these books were requested, though the vast majority are not. Some of the digital books were purchased rather than provided, and with the digital books I often do more selecting rather than simply receiving. Also, there is some overlap where I have both digital and physical copies of books. None of those factors were controlled for, but I think that it doesn't take away from the overall numbers that certainly prove interesting.
In the last 6 months I've received 79 digital books and 103 physical books, for a total of 182 books.
Digital Books:
Total = 79
Male Author = 51
Female Author = 28
Percent Male = 65%
Percent Female = 35%
Physical Books:
Total = 103
Male Author = 77
Female Author = 26
Percent Male = 75%
Percent Female = 25%
All Books:
Total = 182
Male Author = 128
Female Author = 54
Percent Male = 70%
Percent Female = 30%
There are some interesting trends to note - the books that publishers choose to physically send me are overwhelmingly male authored, and more so than the digital books that I take a more active role in selecting. But, looking at the numbers here, it's not surprising that I read more male authors than female authors (last year I read about 65%-35% male to female authors). I'd have to work pretty hard to do otherwise. Now, obviously that statement comes with a lot caveats and such and does not take into account the hundreds of books I have at home to select from and such, but I still think it's not a coincidence.
Of course, if I read more male authors than female authors, it only makes sense for publishers to send me more books written by men, doesn't it? So, we come to a chicken/egg issue - do I read more male authors because that's what is sent to me, or do I get sent more male authors because I read more male authors? Sure, the answer is way more complicated, but I still think it's an important issue to look at.
But anyway, I think the take-home point should be this. If a goal is to get more reviews for SFF books authored by women, particularly for the case of male reviewers, then the problem become clear. No improvement will be made if the publishing machine (publicists, authors, editors, etc.) sends out books as they do now with 75% of them being authored by men and only 25% authored by women.


BookwormBlues said...

I was thinking about this yesterday. I was organizing the books in my TBR pile. They are all sent to me to review from various publishers and I'd have to say 90% are written by men and 10% by women. Those are just the books I've been sent in the past few months. You're right, though. Nothing is going to change if publishers don't sent out more books written by women.

Bob Milne said...

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at my reviews for the past 6 months, as well as what's sitting in my to-be-reviewed pile at the moment.

15 out of 57 books were written by women (26%), which seems like a decent percentage to me. What's really interesting, though, is that 7 were offered to me directly by the author, and 6 were books that I requested. Only 2 came to me from a publisher.

Renay said...

Thank you for this.

Neth said...

@BookwormBlues: it's very interesting to see that the trend seems to hold for you as well.

@Bob: I imagine that most of us bloggers have similar trends. It'd be interesting to compare the acutal number of published female authors vs. the number that are sent to bloggers like me, though you'd probably have to control for things like 'urban fantasy', which at least appears to be dominated by female authors, though I don't tend receive as many of those books (primarily because I'm particularly selective with UF, preferring 'old school' and mythic styles of Uf).

@Renay - you're welcome. I've found your posts on the subject fascinating and disappointing (though not suprising). Keep it up.

Pauline M Ross said...

Interesting post. I've done some similar investigations into my own statistics. I don't receive any books or ebooks from publishers, but I've looked at the proportions of books I review, and it works out at around 35% female authors and 65% male (as best I can tell). However, this is roughly the same ratio of authors currently published in fantasy (again, as best I can tell - it's not easy to pin down exact numbers). I don't want to speculate on the reasons for that, but it's going to be hard to look for parity from reviewers until there's parity in publishing.

Aarti said...

This is disappointing to see but I assume that those ratios are fairly in line with the publication ratio of men to women in SFF - meaning, a lot more men get published in the first place than women, so their books are publicized a lot more.

For the physical copies that you receive that are overwhelmingly male, though ... well, that just seems unfair! I wonder if a lot of those are books that are in series, so the publisher is already committed to certain number and therefore invests more money in promoting those?


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