Feb 24 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, I’m not even putting it on here anymore. Crits- None currently Reading- Mostly intern stuff: 5 of those to 100%, 4 published books. The GLBT one I was reading, Grasshopper Jungle, is… well, strange, rambly, and honestly a bit of a mess. I just haven’t had enough time to read for fun, though, so not finishing that likely this month. (What you don’t see in here: 45 partially read between Jan/Feb, to various amounts. All past the first chapters, some to like 75%, some to only 25% or less.)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Did, and almost done with the next set. Whoot!
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Uhm… No. Oops.
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.-Partiall written next month’s, need to figure out an ending on that.

It’s been really busy at my dayjob lately, they’re trying really hard to meet some quarterly goals that were a bit overzealous, so I haven’t had much time to work on my own projects. Combine that with being utterly exhausted afterwards, and most of my work is getting done in the mornings before the dayjob and on the weekends.

I find it interesting, though. There’s been a lot of buzz because some SFWA guy made some really sexist comments. He’s since apologized after he was repeatedly called out, but this led to a great number of discussions about how women/POC writers are largely ignored by booksellers and how ingrained this discrimination is, to the point of almost subconscious blinders. It made me wonder though: I keep hearing that scifi is dead, no one wants to buy scifi, etc. How much of this is because women (who are generally reputed to make up the majority of the reading populace) see these stories as not being targeted at them. Looking at the top best selling scifi books on Amazon, do you notice anything? Of the top 20, there’s 1 book written by a woman. 4 in the top 50. 10 in the top 100. (Granted, there are repeat/duplicates in there for mutliple editions and some box sets. I’m also not trying to figure out for initial names if they’re a guy or a girl. This isn’t a full on study, just a quick assessment.) Of those, many of the ones with women writers have covers that are extremely feminized vs their male counterparts that mostly focus on ships/worlds/epic sized things.

But wait. What about YA Scifi? Because the thing is, YA doesn’t segregate (at least most of the time) different genres apart. Contemporary is mixed in with scifi, mixed in with fantasy, mixed in with paranormal and dystopians. The trend is reversed. It’s mostly women. Top 20: 20 women. top 50:41 women. Top 100: 82 women. Hmm. So judging by this (admittedly, very limited) glimpse? It’s not that women don’t write scifi. It’s that we’ve (either by choice or market pressure) sold mostly YA Scifi.

Granted, there is overlap. A few books appear in both the YA and adult scifi lists. Some books are listed multiple times due to different editions. And like I said, I wasn’t bothering to sort out the initials genders (The whole point of using initials in a pen name is to avoid disclosing your gender at all, therefore I’m considering them gender neutral.) We also have no way to know how this translates into actual units moved and real money for the publisher/author. Some of these books have tens of thousands of reviews on there. Others only hundreds. Trust me, if I ever get access to real, solid numbers, I will be a VERY happy camper. (That’s the subject of a whole different rant!). This also doesn’t separate out self vs traditional publishing, I suspect that would be interesting to look at too.

The reasons are complicated. It’s a self fulfilling feedback cycle. What’s selling as adult scifi is mostly male written, so what’s being promoted is mostly male written, so what’s being acquired is mostly male written, because that’s what sells. It’s why everyone and their cousin says scifi doesn’t sell, when it really just shoehorned itself into a corner. Meanwhile, you have the YA market exploding with scifi (and dystopian, which until about 5 years ago was still lumped into scifi entirely.), and yet “scifi doesn’t sell”.

And this, folks, is why adults read YA. When you stop publishing what people want to read in Adult, we’ll find our stories where we can get them, even if there are annoying constant love triangles in there as a result.



  1. February 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    So really what we need is more women to not be afraid to write Sci-Fi? All the Sci-Fi cyberpunk I write is not YA and probably not really gender specific – at least I hope not.

    If I recall Scalzi is not President of SFWA and I’ve heard he has quite a reputation for encouraging women and POC writers. It’s amazing there’s so much drama among writers? In the end aren’t we all on the same side?

    Also any chance you will be joining in on the #AtoZchallenge?

    • Leigh Caroline said,

      February 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      It’s less on the writing side, more on the editors/agents side. Whether it’s conscious bias or subconscious, there definitely seems to be some kind of gender bias at work there. And yeah, Scalzi is definitely (from all I’ve seen) wonderful and seems to be using his powers for good. As to writerly drama, that’s an area I’ve seen WAY too much of, over a decade of dealing with it. I suspect a lot of it stems from the kinds of people who tend to be writers. We start writing, after all, because we believe what we have to say should be heard by others. 😉 And maybe. I haven’t had a chance to really poke this year, I probably should get on that. 😉 Thanks for the reminder! 😀

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