On the Huffington Post Chris Goldberg, who describes himself "as a guy who has worked in the book world for several years," writes about the notion that fiction is for women.
When I talk to book editors they repeat the mantra almost religiously: "Dudes don't read." They've all resigned themselves to the fact that women buy most of the books -- especially novels -- and so it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're right. Dudes aren't reading. But is it our fault? Or have publishers just given up trying to publish and market books that we'd want to read?
Just glance over a list of book deals on Publisher's Marketplace and you'll see houses acquiring the same stuff day in and day out -- almost all of which fits into pre-existing niche categories dominated by female readers.
A good example is Jane Austen-related books. In three years in my current job I've seen The Jane Austen Book Club, Jane Austen's Guide to Dating, Jane Austen in Boca, Jane Austen in Scarsdale, Austenland, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen: A Novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Lost in Austen: A Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure, What Would Jane Austen Do? and, appropriately, Jane Austen Ruined My Life.
I joked with my cubicle-mate when Twilight became big that it was only a matter of time before we had a Jane Austen vampire book. It didn't take long. In June Publisher's Marketplace announced Jane Bites Back, pitched as "the humorous, sassy account of Jane Austen as a modern-day vampire," to be published by Del Rey Books.
After The Devil Wears Prada there were dozens of "assistant lit" books. After The Nanny Diaries there were dozens of "nanny lit" books. As the former assistants and nannies get married and have kids there are now "mommy lit" and "divorcée lit" books.
Meanwhile, it's gotten to the point where a lot of the more business-savvy literary agents won't even bother to represent a young male novelist anymore. If they do actually sell a guy-centered book, it's usually a direct-to-paperback deal with practically no publicity budget. (Something like I Just Want My Pants Back by David J. Rosen.)
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