I dunno, could be a problem

A survey of American publishing has found that it is blindingly white and female, with 79% of staff white and 78% women.

So, do men get books published for them?

Therefore diversity among those supplying doesn’t matter, does it?

26 thoughts on “I dunno, could be a problem”

  1. Books for men genres consist of:

    *D I Y–So men can do more in the home–for women

    *Books about what monsters men are

    *Books about how men can be nicer to women

    A few Sports books –cos women realise we can’t spend all the time reading about what monsters we are.

  2. Could it be a door that swings only one way?

    Those from the traditionally marginalised demographics are probably more aware of what those from the traditionally powerful democraphics want, than vice-versa.

    So: women are better and publishing for men, than men are for women.

    Ethnic minorities are better at publishing for white people, than white people are for ethnic minorities.

    LGBT people are better at publishing for straight people, than straight people are for LGBT.

  3. As I wanted to publish a book recently I’ve spent a lot of time having a good look at all the literary agents in the UK. It’s almost 100% white, female and left-wing (and most are Humanities graduates).

    The few exceptions are white left-wing males, almost all of whom are very young, and unlikely to stay in agenting for the long run. (Pretty much all the older white left-wing men who used to run things have now left, retired or died.)

    There are also a few white women who run the more commercial agencies who don’t seem to be as rabidly left-wing as the others, but who still seem to be on the left as far as I can tell.

    (You can tell these things not just by looking at what they say, and who they are agents for, but by looking at their Twitter accounts, which are full of the latest virtue signals, the usual knee-jerk sneers at The Daily Mail, and Murphyesque outrages about big companies not paying enough tax).

    Literary agents are the gatekeepers to the industry. There is no possibility of getting a book published these days without it coming through an agent. So good luck getting published if you’re an unknown male who isn’t left-wing who writes for men and who doesn’t already know Clare at Billings Ltd from Oxford, or Liz at Pendelton because your wife knows her from their BBC days.

    I’m not saying that anything should be done about it by the government, of course. And rather than whine impotently about it I’m going to try to get there by other ways (self-publishing, for instance).

  4. UK publishing also currently on a big “diversity” trip. Gloriously unselfconscious people from professional families with multiple degrees from grand institutions, not noticing they are disproportionately female and Jewish, and drawn from the elite intelligentsia, while fretting about how white everyone (else) in the business is.

    One does in fact meet quite a few publishing people from South Asian families. But they aren’t poor Pakistanis from Bradford, on the whole. It’s a highbrow, genteel, top-end upper-middle-class world, made up of people who have an in-bred love of books. Hard to see how you can change that and still have recognisable publishing. The colour of your face makes little difference to the essential requirement of being comfortable enough to choose literature.

  5. “So: women are better and publishing for men, than men are for women.”

    No, they’re not better. There used to loads of great books for men and boys, but since the women took over those books are hard to find. I’ve been trying to find good books for my son and they’re really rare. There’s one series I came across recently, Joe Craig’s Jimmy Coates books, which are very boyish (action, fighting, etc.), but it’s basically an attack on UKIP.

  6. Pace Jack, the main reason it’s so difficult to get an agent from a standing start is because it is hard to stand out in the slush pile, not so much about politics.

    Publishing’s public chatter IS dominated by a sort of soft-left right-on-ness – as the whole of the rest of the creative and university indoctrinated world. But there is still a wide range of less noised views, and what gets you published is writing quality.

  7. I intimated that it’s hard to stand out in the slush pile — it’s best to know someone in the industry to start with, or make a name for yourself somewhere else. Agents make it very clear that this is how it is.

    Still, I don’t think it’s true that politics doesn’t come into it. Most UK agents would prefer not to have anything to do with a book that was right-wing or conservative. Most have no interest in the sort of books that many men and boys like. They’re always telling us that men don’t really understand women’s literary interests, so why should we think they have a good grasp on men’s stuff?

  8. And have you not noticed the huge ‘Sad Puppies’ fight in the SF world (a sort of parallel to GamerGate)? A lot of what that was about was that the big SF publishers, particularly Tor, have a virtually explicit policy not to publish anything they perceive as not PC.

    As a result, the self-publishing industry is full of books that are much more suitable for ‘men’ than anything the ‘official’ publishers put out.

  9. Not really but it is interesting to point out that equality only means getting the best jobs.

    I await quotas in every area including bin men, deep sea divers, roadsweeping, etc. where amazingly women are unrepresented yet there is no outcry.

  10. Robert: “Those from the traditionally marginalised demographics are probably more aware of what those from the traditionally powerful democraphics want, than vice-versa.

    So: women are better and publishing for men, than men are for women.”

    Oh you are SO right.

    Look how much better TV is these days since it was feminised.

    Endless reality shite. The one millionth episode of Big Bugger and Dancing shite where–as bad as dancing is–it is mostly about tabloid bitching/ness. Shite crime shows that tire the Universe (never mind the Moon) with their femotional agonistics and endless PC wordflow. Shows re-telling the cod leftist version of history–sorry HER-story– featuring fabulous fighting females who don their battle-frocks and trounce mere armies of pathetic men. And feature myriads of time-projected ethnic minorities –who were not only not present at the various periods in question–but in many cases could not have been present by any known circumstance.

    Yeah lets have 100% women deciding what books will sell.

  11. @guy herbert

    “It’s a highbrow, genteel, top-end upper-middle-class world, made up of people who have an in-bred love of books.”

    Reminds me of that vomit inducing Richard Curtis film, About Time, in which Bill Nighy and his ridiculously upper-middle class family live in an idyllic, isolated beachside house on the south coast, with no apparent income.

    When contemplating how he has used his ability to time travel he says “For me, it’s books, books, books.
    I’ve read everything a man could wish to.
    Twice. Dickens three times.”

    A typical load of left-wing upper-middle class elitist bollocks. Margot Robbie is fit though.

  12. It’s been this way a very long while. Being in publishing is the kind of career women from the genteel classes like; not only is it a nice job, you get to exert social control by being a gatekeeper. If noticed this myself well before I became a rightwingmisogynistextremist, when I wrote my novel and looked into how to get published.

    It must however be remembered that my own novel failed to find a publisher for the basic reason that it was shite.

    It was also quite dispiriting when I toured the bookshops looking at what was on the shelves, and observed that there was hardly any original science fiction. There were lots of weighty fantasy tomes of the saga type. There were reprints of classic sci-fi (Asimov, Dick, etc). Virtually all the rest was franchise novels- Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc etc.

  13. There used to loads of great books for men and boys, but since the women took over those books are hard to find.

    Some written by women, too. Richmal Crompton’s William series borders on genius at times.

  14. >Being in publishing is the kind of career women from the genteel classes like; not only is it a nice job, you get to exert social control by being a gatekeeper.

    Spot on.

    It’s actually not that well-paid a job. There are a few publishing execs and a few agents who make big money, but for most of them it’s a somewhat modest salary with London expenses. But it’s ideal for the sort of Arts graduate female who wants to feel part of the creative class who has a partner who makes better money who can pay the mortgage.

    (The modest salary in a declining industry is one reason why men are disappearing from publishing.)

  15. Bloke in Costa Rica

    PF, that’s ‘otherkin’, and it’s just as fatuous and pathetic as it sounds. When little girls pretend to be ponies it’s cute. When adults do it it is horrifying. These people should be tied in a burlap sack and hit with cricket bats until they stop twitching.

  16. Jack

    Speaking as a publishing insider, your view of my industry is absolutely 100% correct. The publishing houses themselves are staffed, almost without exception, from top to bottom, by women. Worse than that they are a particular demographic: middle-class, University liberal arts educated, well off (by the standards of the world), and with an enormously hypocritical liberal worldview.

    The situation with agents is similar, but tinged with avarice. As long as you avoid the more openly touchy-feely agents there are a great many out there who are entirely capitalistic sharks.

    The problem they have is that they swim in a sea of touchy-feely liberal clients. So it is very difficult to sell anything that is male-centric to them, as they find it very difficult to get anyone to publish it.

    But it is not an entirely desperate situation. You are alive at a glorious point in history of publishing! Self publishing (for the Kindle) bypasses these naval-gazing clowns completely. And, if you take a look at the self publishing charts, there is a great deal of stuff in there making good money for its authors that would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS have made it through the slush pile — let alone been published – by the traditional gatekeeping publishing industry.

    Consider yourself lucky.

    Forget about traditional publishers. They’re not interested in you, and there’s nothing you can do to make yourself attractive to them (bar writing a completely different book). You can’t even talk to them without giving yourself away. Their prejudices are so all-consuming.

    Put your book on Kindle. Advertise yourself widely and shamelessly through social media, blogs, message boards, forums, local newspapers, anything you like. But stay away from traditional publishers.

    If you are lucky to become extremely successful and sell lots of books they will come and knock on your door.

    One of the publishing phenomenon is the last few years is Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’. He was chased by all the major publishers when that book became a success, but I can tell you it would NEVER have been published from the slush pile, or accepted by an agent, if it hadn’t been a massive self-publishing success first.

    Dig out his talk to Google.

  17. magnusw,

    “Reminds me of that vomit inducing Richard Curtis film, About Time, in which Bill Nighy and his ridiculously upper-middle class family live in an idyllic, isolated beachside house on the south coast, with no apparent income.”

    To be fair, what did you expect from a Richard Curtis movie? I’ve seen films in the “Barely Legal Cheerleaders” series that were less predictable.

  18. Hmmm… wasn’t the biggest market for Males writing for Females the Bodice Ripper market?
    Under a suitably female pen name of course.. 😉

    Oh wait.. that isn’t literature …:D

  19. Surely at least some of the publishing girls have got to be fit though, right? In that case, Jack, you could try shagging one or two of them and see if that gets you any further forward?

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