The other day I sent the following text to a good friend: I have to write a post about publishing as a woman and I really don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times already. “Fewer review opportunities” blah blah “80 cents to the dollar” blah blah. Truth is…I’m surrounded by incredible women in publishing. My agent is a woman. My editor, marketing team, and publicist…all women. Even my publisher is a woman. Ninety-nine percent of the books I read are by women. All of my critique partners are women, one hundred percent of my writing group is female. I mean, I am truly shocked when I encounter a man. Like as shocked as I would be if I encountered him in the ladies room. “What are YOU doing here?!?!?”
Write that, she said. The other side of it.
Publishing as a woman is hard, sure. But it’s also pretty great. Women writers — much more so than their male counterparts — are at the forefront of so many important issues. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner are ferocious advocates for equality in publishing. Elin Hilderbrand’s tweet the other day about how she refuses to stay out of politics is just one example of the way female authors are fearlessly at the front lines. Women are not afraid to speak their truth — we never have been. And our platform is expanding. Women writers support each other. J. Courtney Sullivan. Sarah McCoy. Caroline Leavitt. Celeste Ng. These are just a few women authors who are dedicated to supporting other female writers and amplifying marginalized voices.
Do men do this? I asked my writer friend, who is rather political and much more plugged in than I am.
I don’t know because I don’t follow them, she replied.
That’s my point! I said. What men? There are men in publishing? I don’t know any. I am only sort of joking about this. Do male authors get involved in politics? Absolutely. Follow Stephen King on Twitter and buckle up. However, do men get called out for being “political” by their readers? So far, I haven’t seen it. Only female authors are asked to smile and play nice.
The truth is, publishing is top-heavy with men. They are the publishers and associate publishers. They are the heavy hitters and deal makers. But it’s the women, like in the rest of the real world, who get the work done.