When I trawl through the listings of literary agents to check out what they are looking for (and, to be fair, they don’t always know), I am surprised at the number of (mainly female) agents that specify a preference for female authors.
Not that they’ll reject a male author’s query, it’s just that they must think that there is a bigger market out there for female authors. And there may be.
Does anyone out there have any hard and fast researched evidence?
Not surprisingly, given the proliferation of gender studies, women’s interest courses (the men can take care of themselves obviously) and selection employment procedures to ensure a fairer spread of men and women; it’s hardly surprising that agents and editors might profess a mild bias towards female writers.
So, I thought, why not? Many men and women write under pen names, and write as the other gender. It’s nothing new. Or they use initials to avoid being stereotyped.
I wouldn’t mind being stereotyped if it got me another book deal. They can stereotype me as much as they like if it opens the door to a deal.
Here’s the rub. What about querying an agent as a woman? I’ve read some opinions and most say you must, must, must query under your real name because contracts etc have to be inked legally. But, steady on, isn’t that jumping the gun. A query from either a man or woman might get rejected anyway.
It’s the first impression I’m talking about.
If I write a tense thriller as a man and it gets rejected but only just. They love it but… What if they read the same opening chapters written by a woman? Would that make a difference?
Subliminally and psychologically, would a woman editor respond differently to the same story written by a man or a woman? Always assuming, of course, that the quality is high and the book has real commercial potential.
I think I might try to find out.