Business of Men

Behind the male pen name is a woman

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If you’re judging good books by their cover, don’t be surprised to find that behind the male pen name is a woman.

Imagine how dark the world would be without the wizarding world of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was published in 1997, however publisher Barry Cunningham was concerned that young male readers may overlook the novel because of the female author, so Rowling camouflaged her identity behind her initials.

What ever happened to not judging a book by its cover? Or specifically, not judging it by the author’s name on the cover being female.

There are many barriers and obstacles that have prevented women from publishing their work in the past. Even today, female authors often still have difficulty being embraced and praised in the literary world without being stereotyped by reviewers. History has shown that male authors are favored, by readers, publishers and review outlets alike. In the 1970s, the percentage of women being published was only at 20%, and according to The Guardian, men are still published more than women.

Rowling has again concealed her gender with her new crime book series using a male pseudonym. This was to avoid comparisons with her previous work. The genre of crime is generally male dominated.

It has often been the case that women with a masculine identity publish some of the best-written works. Examples include Ann Rule (Andy Stack) and Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb). Women are publishing their work regardless of their acceptance in genres that are mainly dominated by males. They are finding triumphant success, however it is printed under a different name.

The editor of Rowling’s novel stated; ‘I never thought a woman would have written that.’

With best selling novels such as ‘My Sisters Keeper’ and ‘Nineteen Minutes’, Jodi Picoult is a strong advocate for female authors. She has been outspoken about the disparity in publishing and the media. She believes that review outlets exhibit inequity, presenting a preference for male authors. Female novelists are usually viewed as belonging to commercial or ‘chicklit’ genres.

“Currently male writers are reviewed more often, more frequently and by more male reviewers than female reviewers at various media outlets from the Atlantic all the way to the New York Times.”
– Jodi Picoult.

JodiPicoultTweet (amanda@amandarose.com.au)

Statistics from VIDA show that in 2013, 894 reviews published by the New York Times were reviews of male authors, and 725 of female ones. That’s an improvement on 2010, when only 283 women were reviewed by The New York Times, against a staggering 524 male.

Many timeless authors such as the Bronte sisters, J.K Rowling, Nora Roberts and Louisa May Alcott choose gender-neutral names to distract from previous works or to engage a greater audience. Female authors provide so much more potential than just the stereotypical chick flick.

Every word written by these females is a masterpiece. Enough said.

About Lauren Robinson

A Journalist at The Business Woman, Lauren has a solid passion for the world of writing. Previously working with Fairfax Regional Media and Bauer Media Group Lauren loves beauty, entertainment, lifestyle and human-interest stories.

4 Comments

  1. Bryn Evans Accounting

    March 22, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    So, so true!

  2. Maria Stern

    March 22, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Figures!

  3. Megan Cradditch

    March 26, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Behind the male anything is a woman!

  4. Avis

    May 10, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Perfect blog.

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