Did You Know?

Percentage of Female Authors Published Less than Half of Percentage of Published Men

Women make up 80 percent of all fiction readers, yet the number of published women novelists compared to men still remains well-below 50 percent. According to the wonderful women’s arts magazine VIDA, the problem starts with the literary magazines themselves. In 2010, the most recent year studied, The New Yorker published work by 163 women and 449 men. They reviewed 36 novels by men. And women? Just 9 novels. The numbers in Three-Penny Review, another one of the top literary magazines in the country, whose Editor, Wendy Lesser, is ironically a woman, aren’t any better. Stories and creative nonfiction by men: 61. By women: 25.

And according The New Republic writer Ruth Franklin, of the 13 main publishing  houses still in existence in the US, the numbers continue to show a preference for male writers. Only the boutique Penguin imprint Riverhead—came close to parity, with 55 percent of its books by men and 45 percent by women. Random House came in second, with 37 percent by women. It was downhill from there with Norton, Little Brown, and Harper Collins all scoring around 30 percent—and the rest 25 percent and below, including Knopf (23 percent) and FSG (21 percent).

The numbers were even worse for the indie presses, a huge surprise considering that these publishers pride themselves on issuing quality, original, literary work that the mainstream houses won’t. Graywolf, with 25 percent female authors, was the highest-scoring independent. Brooklyn publisher Melville House came in at 20 percent.  Verso was second-to-last at 11 percent and Dalkey Archive Press, came in last: in 2010!!! a mere 10 percent of its authors were female.

For those of us who publish or aspire to publish, it’s time to rev up our engines; support the work of women writers, buy their books, offer to review works by women in your local newspaper, blog or magazines, and most of all share the news when you read a great novel by a woman writer.

And don’t forget to review our list of published MHC alums on our Blog Roll.

And share your own thoughts here….

This entry was posted in Did You Know, Gender Disparity in Publishing, Writers & Readers: Community Forum and tagged , , , , , by Sandi Sonnenfeld. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandi Sonnenfeld

Sandi Sonnenfeld is a fiction writer and essayist. Her memoir, This Is How I Speak (2002: Impassio Press), which recounts how her views about what it means to be a woman in contemporary America changed after suffering a dangerous sexual assault, was a Booksense 76 finalist. With the memoir’s publication, she was named a 2002 Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, which recognizes writers whose work merits special notice. Sandi has published more than two-dozen short stories and essays in Sojourner, Voices West, Hayden’s Ferry Review, ACM, Raven Chronicles, Necessary Fiction, Perigee, Revolution House and The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review among others. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sandi holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Washington, where she won the Loren D. Milliman Writing Fellowship. She currently resides in New York's glorious Hudson Valley with her husband and the two of the world's most playful cats.

3 thoughts on “Did You Know?

  1. Donna: I found the BN link floating around on the Internet when I was getting ready to launch The Lyon Review and thought it was a good starting point, but I knew it was indeed out of date. We likely can just copy the books published on the link and start our own list so we can add to it–assuming that people email us their info. If you are willing to work with me on this project, I would greatly appreciate it, as several MHC alums have already written via LinkedIn to ask how they can be added.

    In the meantime, Donna, why not send us a story or essay or poem you have lying around for us to publish here at The Lyon Review and then we will link back to your books!

  2. Hi Sandi — Thanks so much for including my website in the Blogroll list of links (“Published MHC Authors by Name”). I was contacted by someone after your blog post went up, wanting to get her books added to this website. Your readers should know this is a dormant site. I have not updated this list in at least a few years because the B&N links keep changing on me, and it would be a huge effort to redo all the links again, and add new books. I don’t know how interested people are in having this site updated; the hit count has always been very low. But if there is someone out there who would like to see it updated who can contribute some typing time to helping out with it, I’d be happy to get it going again. Donna Albino ’83, dalbino83@yahoo.com

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