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….