Men Don’t Read Fiction? BULL! – Writing on the Ether

26 December 2013 iStock_000025135044Small photog Oleh Slobodeniuk texted story image

Table of Contents

  1. I’ll Hold the Door for You if You’ll Leave That Baggage Behind
  2. BULL Men’s Fiction: Heartbreaking Pants
  3. They Read It. You Can, Too.
  4. “I’ll Get in This Space”

I’ll Hold the Door for You if You’ll Leave That Baggage Behind

Here’s the last Ether of 2013.

I heard that sigh of relief.

As the gas escapes, I’d like to try the reverse of a new year resolution: instead of resolving to do something, I’d like to see folks resolve not to do it—or say it—ever again.

If I could choose one and only one publishing industry myth to leave behind in 2013, it would be the one that says men don’t read fiction.

And I have a response to that old scribe’s tale for you.

BULL Men's Fiction three editions

Before I tell you more about BULL Men’s Fiction, let’s look at what’s wrong with saying men don’t read fiction, and even simply men don’t read.

These lines are pernicious in at least two ways: one is business-related, the other is culturally important.

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook, CONTEC Conference, Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt Buchmesse, Bowker(1) In business. We need men to read more.

As our good colleagues at Bowker’s Market Research team (now owned by Nielsen) told us in the 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review, the responses of women surveyed suggest that they out-buy men in books, and this trend might be rising.

From the report:

Women accounted for 58% of book spending in 2012, up over 55% in 2011.

That’s the spending metric. In terms of unit sales, the trend holds but did show a brief dip in 2011:

In 2011, women accounted for 57% of book buyers, which was actually a drop from 2010, when women accounted for 58% of book buyers. These numbers are up in 2012, with women accounting for 60% of book buyers. Women also bought more books, and spent more money on books, in 2012. In 2011 women accounted for 62% of units sold, whereas in 2012 they accounted for 65%.

From Bowker's 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review. BookConsumer.com/store

From Bowker’s 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review. BookConsumer.com/store

(2) In culture. Almost anyone you hear chanting men don’t read fiction will tell you that he or she wants men to read fiction. The line is normally delivered in tones that run somewhere between sorrow and anger, between regret and derision.

Ironically, saying men don’t read fiction in any tone is an incredibly bad way to encourage men to read. Each time someone says men don’t read fiction, you can almost hear a book snapping shut.

This is especially true if you say it around younger men who are still finding their masculinities. They’re naturally sensitive to our hyper-sexualized society’s fondness of “guys do this and women do that” nonsense. They’re eager not to do anything outside “what guys do.” Any suggestion that “what guys do” doesn’t include reading fiction (or reading at all) makes it much harder for them to get back to that book again.

Books, fiction or nonfiction, are not innately pink. Turning them that color by pushing around such a chestnut as men don’t read fictiona line that implies that only women read fiction and that reading is for girlscan profoundly derail what might have been a guy’s healthy habit and enjoyment of buying and reading literature.

Guyland by Michael KimmelThose earlier years have expanded for many American men, of course, in the construct laid out by Stony Brook University Prof. Michael Kimmel, who heads up the school’s new Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities.

In Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, Kimmel has described a delayed entry into male adulthood that’s endemic in our culture and hardly conducive to inspiring bookish interests among fellows who are told that reading is for girls.

Kimmel writes:

Guyland is the world in which young men live. It is both a stage of life, a liminal undefined time span between adolescence and adulthood that can often stretch for a decade or more, and a place, or, rather, a bunch of places where guys gather to be guys with each other, unhassled by the demands of parents, girlfriends, jobs, kids, and the other nuisances of adult life. In this topsy-turvy, Peter-Pan mindset, young men shirk the responsibilities of adulthood and remain fixated on the trappings of boyhood, while the boys they still are struggle heroically to prove that they are real men despite all evidence to the contrary.

Guyland sounds like a place in which a man could sure use a good book, doesn’t it? But no wonder the Bowker study shows men’s spending on books not picking up until the guys are out of their twenties:

The age groups where men spent the most money was in the 30 to 44 year-old group at 46% and in the 65 and up group where men accounted for 45% of spending.

It’s my belief—based entirely on my own experience and backed up by not one whit of evidence I can produce for you—that the best thing to happen to men’s reading is the advent of ebooks.

On a Kindle Fire or a Kobo Aura or an iPad or phone or any number of other screens, you can’t tell what a guy is reading. I think guys like it that way. I know I do: it’s none of your business what I’m reading. I think that for the most part, men are less demonstrative than women about their reading. And without some honking dust cover on the plane, for example, our guy can tell his company associate in the next seat that he’s reading the PDFs from the office on that Kindle. And go on with his Alissa Nutting.

Honestly, I’m not sure guys even tell survey takers as much about their reading or buying habits as the researchers might wish. It’s none of their business, either, you know?

Do you keep a record of who recommended which books to you? If you did, you could put together such irritating lists as this one: men have recommended to me in the last six months that I read the following fiction:

Isn’t that a remarkable thing?

Because men don’t read fiction. Everybody knows that.

And yet they’re making recommendations to each other based on all that reading they don’t do.

Guys are telling other guys right now about Howey’s Sand—which, of course, they haven’t read because men don’t read fiction—even as it rolls out in installments; even as Howey’s own descriptive note on the first part suggests waiting until the full book is published in a single unit; and even though people are telling them that men don’t read fiction.

Wait a minute.

Wait a minute.

A guy just told you about Sand. And men don’t read fiction. It’s a fin de 2013 publishing crisis for the industry! the industry! Let’s get badly and pointlessly upset, as only we publishing people can do, and hurl screaming blog posts at each other about it, shall we?

No, no, better yet, this: what I want you to say, the next time you hear someone intone, men don’t read fiction?BULL.

Back to Table of Contents

BULL Men’s Fiction: Heartbreaking Pants

Jarrett Haley

Jarrett Haley

“In 2009, I’d just finished a graduate program at Notre Dame, and all my friends took off.”

The friendless Jarrett Haley, founder and editor of BULL Men’s Fiction, had a wife pregnant with their first child. “I was going to be staying home taking care of the baby, and I knew that without some outlet to talk to writers and work on things, I’d go crazy. I wanted to keep in contact with writers.

“I thought about what I’d want to work on,” Haley says. “We were hearing the same things about publishing. ‘Men don’t read,’ blah, blah, blah—I was sick of it. I wanted to do something that was progressive, you know?”

“That’s when I came up with the idea of men’s fiction. There was an opportunity there. Once the notion hit me, I thought of it as a project, an experiment—what would I get when I put out the call for ‘men’s fiction,’ quote-unquote?”

The BULL site, 2009-2010

The BULL Men’s Fiction site, 2009-2010

Maybe not the tech-savviest among us, writer-dad Haley first put together “a rudimentary Web site” that carried along the idea at ground level for a couple of years. As soon as the fledgling site “got a little traction, we got to a point,” Haley says, “where we had to decide, ‘Well, are we doing to do this or not do it?'”

And what encouraged Haley to stick with it was pants: a Dockers “Wear the Pants” competition for a $100,000 national campaign. The idea was to formulate a goal and a plan to achieve it; become one of five finalists chosen by a panel of judges; and then to win the popular vote on Facebook.

“We almost got it, we got second place,” Haley says. “It was so heartbreaking, man. The guy who won was some college kid with a huge online network.”

A Dockers ad, from a NY Daily News article

A Dockers ad, from a NY Daily News article

As it happens, Dockers’ “Wear the Pants” advertising copy is some of the best Guyland/Kimmel-esque material you may read today.

In this instance, for example, you read, in part:

Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny…For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups.

Haley says the competition experience “gave us enough momentum to say, ‘OK, let’s do this thing for real.'”

So after that, we got a new Web site, and we’ve been doing print issues” of BULL Men’s Fiction “for about two years. With this second version of the site, I think we’ve really just started to come into our own. At each point, it gets a little more polished.

Haley is a native of Clearwater, Florida. He went to the University of Florida, then to Notre Dame’s MFA program, and recently has moved with his wife and three children to San Diego. The oldest of the kids is 4 years old. His wife has family in San Diego.

“We can use the help.”

Back to Table of Contents

BULL Men's Fiction site look, 2011-2012

BULL Men’s Fiction site, 2011-2012

They Read It. You Can, Too.

BULL Men’s Fiction is a newly relaunched site (just this month) and a print magazine, about 130 pages, published twice a year. 

A lot of us would say walks like a journal and talks like a journal. Don’t tell Haley that. He’s not fond of calling it literary, either.

I want the quality of a journal, but the fun and style of a magazine. I don’t want to bash anything but there are pros and cons to both of them. I don’t want to call it a ‘literary journal.’ I think it’s a turnoff, honestly. We’re marketing ourselves to regular guys. ‘Literary’ sounds like homework, sounds like something they aren’t attracted to. So I go with ‘fiction magazine,’ because that’s really what it is.

BULL Men's Fiction relaunched 2013 site

BULL Men’s Fiction, the relaunched 2013 site

Haley heads a staff of close to 20 people who are working on BULL. They’re all over the country. They’re unpaid. 

You subscribe for $20 per year. You can also buy back issues. Here’s the store.

The site has a wide range of BULL writers’ work sampled free in its archive. Most of those are truncated articles, not full-length. Haley would rather tempt you to subscribe with these samples than put the thing behind a pay wall.

“I really don’t like paid Web sites,” Haley says, while conceding that his next step is to get into digital delivery channels, such as a subscription edition for Amazon’s Kindle Magazines.

“I’m trying to make the operation as streamlined as possible,” he says. “It has to be as low-maintenance as possible and as fun as possible” to keep his team engaged and pulling together. “We never could have done what we’re doing now without this staff.”

Back to Table of Contents

“I’ll Get in This Space”

Members of the BULL Men's Fiction staff include, from left, Tim Chilcote, Senior Editor; Jared Yates Sexton, Managing Editor; Michael Goodell, Editorial Board member.

Members of the BULL Men’s Fiction staff include, from left, Tim Chilcote, Senior Editor; Jared Yates Sexton, Managing Editor; Michael Goodell, Editorial Board member.

“What we’re doing” at BULL Men’s Fiction, it turns out, involves presenting new fiction by writers including National Book Award nominee Padgett Powell; Canadian bassist and writer Chris Tarry; McSweeney’s John Warner.

There’s also a “Prison Book Review” series of pieces by Curtis Dawkins, an MFA graduate from Western Michigan University who writes about books and the incarcerated life from the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.

And each print issue is led by Haley’s interview of an author. His past subjects have been Chuck Klosterman (The Visible Man, Scribner) and Donald Ray Pollack (The Devil All the Time, Anchor).

Most recently, Haley writes up Allan Gurganus, whose trio of novellas, Local Souls, was released by W.W. Norton’s Liveright in September.

In an era in which many in publishing talk about almost nothing but the business and its struggles in the digital transition, the Haley interviews frequently change that tune by talking about the work, itself.

Local Souls by Allan GurganusIn his interview with Gurganus, Haley runs a line from Local Souls past the author and develops a point about fathers and their sacrifices to achieve types of success that their children may not recognize. Haley asks about:

When the narrator is describing the fancy house that his father coveted, then finally attained, he says, “It had been Red’s great wish for himself, meaning me.” Can I ask you…what that line means to you?

Gurganus responds with insight about parents’ projection on to their kids an idea of success they can’t gain for themselves.

I think Red seems his son as his own best self. He feels that by making an easier life possible for the son, he is in fact redeeming and immortalizing himself.

As the conversation develops, you learn that the underlying concept of personal unworthiness that suffuses such misperceptions by parents of their children’s eventual interests, is behind Gurganus’ name for the setting.

I named the town Falls after the fall of man. The townspeople call themselves the Fallen instead of the Falls-ites. It’s a kind of play on our fore-parents’ having eaten of the fruit of the knowledge between good and evil. We are all living post-Eden but struggling, that’s for sure.

There are cases in which Haley has cultivated a writer’s interest and wants to make a payment from the magazine’s limited funds. Articles that come in over the transom, however, if used, aren’t usually paid at this point.

  • Three editions of the print magazine have come out so far.
  • The “Trouble Issue” is next in the spring, following the “Humor Issue” and the “Improvement Issue.”
  • The magazine has about 200 subscribers.
  • Over time, a single issue will sell some 1,500 copies.
Writer-dad Jarrett Haley

Writer-dad Jarrett Haley

This is small and it’s early, but the potential of the operation shows in the curation of material and the consistency of presentation. There are better established poetry and prose publications in the journal world selling at this level; these numbers are not bad for an outfit the staff of which has no PR or advertising person.

Ball and Buck (“presenting the last belt you’ll ever buy”) has become an advertiser, taking the back cover of the latest edition of the print magazine. The hookup there happened in Boston, where Haley and his staffers had a BULL party during the AWP Conference there earlier this year.

And when Haley tried a typical call for submissions, he says, using the NewPages.com platform, he found that the transom may not be the right channel for what he’s doing.

“It really didn’t feel good,” he says.

They were deluged with material. “It felt like people saw the ad, went straight to ‘submit’ and just wanted to throw their stuff at us. What I really like is hearing from people who like what we do” and want to develop a relationship with the magazine.

“After all, that’s where it started for me,” he says. “It was me wanting to meet people” who are writing. “We give feedback, we make an effort to really reach out.”

He’s torn on the question of calls for submissions, though, he says, having had encouraging response from editors at Playboy once, when he submitted a piece. “I wanted a place like Playboy, where I could send something and somebody might read it.”

BULL Men’s Fiction has published women as well as men. “We don’t get many submissions from women,” Haley says, but the first print edition includes a story, “Houseboy,” by Sara Lippmann, that’s “one of my favorite pieces of everything we’ve run, it’s really, really good.”

And in an industry that’s better at times at reciting assumptions than addressing them—men don’t read fiction—push-back can come in the form of a fledgling semi-annual magazine gamely finding its footing in persistent focus, non-combative but also unapologetic.

“I said, ‘Well, no one’s in this space, so I’ll get in this space.'”

Back to Table of Contents

This quote from CS Lewis' "The Four Loves" drew 17,142 likes on Goodreads in 2013. Courtesy: Suzanne Skyvara

This quote from CS Lewis’ “The Four Loves” drew 17,142 likes on Goodreads in 2013. Courtesy: Suzanne Skyvara


Main image – iStockphoto: Oleh Slobodeniuk

Posted in Writing on the Ether and tagged , , , .

Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He’s The Bookseller’s (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He’s a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he’s a regular contributor of “Provocations in Publishing” with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal’s SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair’s Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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33 Comments on "Men Don’t Read Fiction? BULL! – Writing on the Ether"

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CJ Lyons
Porter, the thing I’ve always been told (by publishers, especially) isn’t that men don’t read fiction but that they won’t read fiction written by women…hmm…I always thought that was a fallacy since around 40% of my readers are men but seeing that all the fiction recommended to you by men is written by men, maybe there’s some truth to that? If so, it’s sad because it means we’re trending towards a duo-cracy in fiction. Books read by women written by men or women v. books read by men, written by men. Does that mean us women writers and our work… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@cjlyons:disqus No, no, CJ! 🙂 Thanks for your comment, but look again. Evie Wyld, Eleanor Catton, and Christine Sneed — all very much women — are among the books my male friends recommended to me over those six months. And in my experience, it’s not true that men will only read men at all. This is one reason I’m glad that BULL has published women twice it its short time already. (Sara Lippmann and Ethel Rohan, the latter originally of Dublin, the former of the Sunday Salon reading series.) In fact, Haley tells me he’s more than open to women’s… Read more »
CJ Lyons
Ah, sorry about the skimming–I’m terrible with names (as you know, lol!) To share some data (although a n=1, so extremely limited) my own readership grew from 35% men when I wrote my Angels of Mercy medical suspense series for Berkley (which had covers explicitly targeted at women and four women protagonists) to 40% men when I began writing the Lucy Guardino FBI Thrillers. My male readers are some of my most vocal, leaving great reviews (especially from former and active law enforcement officers and real life FBI agents who see in Lucy a protag who isn’t a superhero but… Read more »
Porter Anderson
Hey, CJ, sorry for the travel delays here. Yeah, I think your attitude is exactly right — you want to know what might be affecting how your readership is receiving the work. Really interesting about the strong numbers in terms of male readers (congrats) and the increase for the Guardino books. The point there being that guys clearly will read strong fiction by women when it has an angle or element to it that they enjoy. Have you ever been able to get a sense for whether some readers though you were a male writer because of the initials? And… Read more »
CJ Lyons

No, I’ve never had readers tell me they thought I was a man or accidentally address me as Mr…but my photo is all over my website and social media and I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m a woman, so not sure if that has anything to do with it. I use CJ because it’s short and easy to remember, not because it could be male or female.

Porter Anderson

Right, both your intent in using initials and your experience of the reaction is different. from that of some others. And, as you say, the use of your photo and so on makes it clear that you’re not male. It’s a great name and brand, no doubt about it.
-p.

Richard Mabry
When I first began to write fiction, one of the reasons (among many) given to me for the rejections I was getting was that the books had male protagonists. I was told repeatedly that 85% of novels are read by women, and they like female protagonists. Call it coincidence, but when I made the change, contracts started coming. Although I’ve now ventured successfully into the waters of the male protagonist (always with a strong female second lead), I still wonder about the accuracy of that statement–truth or legend? I don’t necessarily believe it, but I’m afraid to go against the… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@Richard Mabry:disqus @cjlyons:disqus Hey, Richard, What an intriguing viewpoint, thanks for weighing in with this. What’s really interesting between your and author CJ Lyons’ good comment (just before yours) is that CJ is worried that men won’t read work by women … and your experience appears to run the other way, suggesting that women might not read work by a man, at least if it doesn’t have a female protagonist. As with so many things, I’d suggest — without hard data, alas, I’m working on experience and instinct here — that both concepts are overstated, each in its own direction.… Read more »
Bob Mayer
As the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll, it was an interesting experience to co-write romance. I remember having my manly man character apologize to the female protagonist– and I still have no idea what he had to apologize for, but that’s what guys have to do. The reality is I can have the #1 bestseller in Men’s Adventure on Kindle and not crack the top 100 overall. Men do read though– when we deployed, we’d pack paperbacks in our rucks, even when having to decide between another magazine of 5.56 ammunition or a meal.… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@Bob Mayer:disqus I have to say, Bob, It absolutely makes my day to think of you on the Romance Writers of American Honor Roll. 🙂 This is fabulous, I couldn’t like it more (and I hope your manly male character made a gracious and generous apology, even while you had no idea what for. LOL). Seriously, your experience on the Men’s Adventure ratings as opposed to the Top 100, of course, do look like something to think about, although — God, I’m getting tired of reading myself writing “data” — we actually need to know what percentage of male readers,… Read more »
CJ Lyons
As for data, you’re right, it’s lacking…but much of the data surveys and publications are sharing isn’t helpful (at least not to me, your mileage might vary). For instance, I could care less about what other writers are making as far as income. Or how many books a year they publish. Or if they’re traditional/hybrid/or Eskimo. All those surveys show is how individual authors use the resources they have whether it’s more books ready to publish or a platform helped by NYC books or a personality that lends itself to social media. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses,… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@cjlyons:disqus Hey, CJ, Really good point that what authors need is survey work on readers/buyers. Actually, I think the survey you’re thinking about that focuses on authors is the “What Authors Want” survey done by DBW and Writer’s Digest — that’s the one we’ve been discussing in some recent columns (because its author-earnings information isn’t always parsed clearly). We could say that “what authors want” is information on readers! lol The Bowker survey work — and Nielsen — is on readers and buyers, actually. That’s why the stats mentioned in this column are about women’s and men’s buying habits and… Read more »
Victoria_Noe
This is strictly anecdotal, Porter; no Bowker data to share. Young men, say 18-25 may not be reading a lot of fiction because they’re in school. Even my daughter bemoans the lack of time to do the amount of reading she’d like to do because of college reading commitments (though she always finds time for Shakespeare). That said, I think we need to keep a close eye on those younger 20-somethings. This is the generation that grew up on the Harry Potter series, after all – the books, not just the movies. They were the ones filling up bookstores at… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@Victoria_Noe:disqus Hey, Viki, Thanks for getting into the comments here, great to have you. There’s actually plenty of material out there about New Adult readers — have a look at this piece, for example http://bit.ly/1kK39hS from Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, and Kelly Jensen. I like it because the trio of writers don’t seem to want to force the concept in one direction or another. (Romance for young’uns only sexier being the usual shorthand for what people think NA is…I’m not sure that’s actually it.) Their last graf is very telling: “If you’re left with more questions than answers, you’re not… Read more »
Victoria_Noe
A number of years ago, a survey was conducted in the wealthy, north shore suburbs of Chicago. Six-year-olds were asked if their parents could read. An alarming number insisted that their mothers could read, but not their fathers. Upon further investigation, the children answered that way because they had witnessed their mothers reading. They did not report seeing their fathers read. The men tended to do their reading on the train back and forth to the city, or in bed before they went to sleep, past their children’s bedtime. So, what is the experience of men – young or old… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@Victoria_Noe:disqus Viki, That’s an amazing anecdote about the surveyed kids thinking their fathers didn’t read because they only saw their mothers doing it. Perfect demonstration of what I’m talking about in terms of men’s general (not always, but general) tendency to keep reading more private — and, as in these cases, something done in transit and non-primetime hours, less public. All augmented by the convenience and privacy factors of e-reading, exactly. So I hope we’re actually seeing (or not seeing, actually) more reading by men, as you suggest — which may take some work to unearth in survey work, as… Read more »
Victoria_Noe
I’ll do some digging, though I heard this at least ten years ago. It could turn out to be an urban legend. But it rings true from a child development angle: young children model behavior. If boys only see their moms doing something, they’re more likely to associate that behavior as ‘girly’. Whether they witness their fathers – or other adult men – reading a paperback, hardcover or ereader I think makes little difference. It’s the act of reading – and sharing that experience – that’s important. And yes, show kids that ereaders are good for something besides watching movies… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@Victoria_Noe:disqus Right on all counts. I gave a friend who has two young sons (5 and 7) Brad Meltzer’s “Heroes for My Son” book http://ow.ly/s67PD because Braxton likes to read to the boys — which is really good training into reading, father to son. This is all completely doable, and the kind of world in which BULL Men’s Fiction is an anomaly is not something that someone woke up and intentionally created. Many social and worklife pressures on family configuration and gender models have conspired to get us into this odd predicament that somehow snags reading into all the other… Read more »
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[…] In Writing on the Ether, Porter Anderson looks at the tired line about men not reading fiction & a magazine proving it wrong. At JaneFriedman.com  […]

Carla Douglas
Great topic, and I wanted to respond sooner than this. After reading your post Thursday morning, I threw it open to discussion on Boxing Day at the dinner table, where 5 men — two over 50 and three in their 20s — were more than happy to participate. And such telling responses! Yes! Men definitely do read fiction, but maybe not the same fiction as women. All but one are avid fiction readers. A sampling of what they said: – A lot more men are reading fiction than we know of because many will not admit it – When men… Read more »
Gib
As a young college educated male (under 25) reader/writer, I feel like this issue affects me in two ways. 1) I have difficulty finding books I will enjoy. Under YA, the best books I’ve discovered are Ender’s Game and the Percy Jackson books (technically MG). Other fiction I like: Vince Flynn, Game of Thrones, Kurt Vonnegut. One of my personal favorites is the Harry Potter series and its big reason I got into writing YA fiction. Recently, I have read the following (hoping to improve my own writing): The Hunger Games, Legend, Divergent, Switched, Under the Never Sky, A Daughter… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@disqus_UwwZhUX2p6:disqus Hey, Gib, Great to have you with us on the Ether, and thanks for this thoughtful comment! To take your last point first, negative: Don’t write things a certain way to market them. Write what you need to write. Yes, you want an audience but you don’t contort what you want to write in order to sell widely … there’s a word for that and it’s not nice. Instead, you write what you need to write and you develop the audience for it through social media and other networking means. If you don’t want to write the romance of… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@disqus_UwwZhUX2p6:disqus Gib, one more note — Since you’re in submissions right now with YA, I thought I’d pass on the news that a new ebook imprint for YA and New Adult called Bloomsbury Spark is opening to direct submissions. Per my colleagues at The Bookseller in London, I have this info: Bloomsbury is accepting direct submissions for its new YA and New Adult e-book imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, which launched on 19th December. The publisher is asking authors to submit manuscripts of between 25,000-60,000 words, along with a biography and links to their online presence. It is accepting submissions from all… Read more »
Tom Bentley
Porter, sorry I’m so late to this, but holiday travels (and cookies) led me astray. As you’ve pointed out in other contexts, numbers are elusive (and often inarticulate) in the book biz, but from my anecdotal corner: many of my manly men friends like to read fiction, and not just testosterone-charging, tire-shredding, guns-ablazing, everything-exploding prose so purple, but even, gasp, literary fiction. Among books I read this year were Swamplandia!, Benediction, Flight Behavior, Gringos, Telegraph Avenue, and The Dog Stars, and I’m reading Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker-winning Offshore right now. My masculinity must be truly challenged, because I not only read… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@disqus_z8blEym8w8:disqus And do you know how hard it is to actually dance a Strauss waltz in that ballroom, Tom? I actually had the experience once (don’t ask), and it was one of the most exhausting workouts I’ve ever had. Those things are fast, lol. Thanks for all the kind words and for reading so faithfully this year, AND for bringing more good male readership to the table, yes even of fiction, yes even by women … it’s still amazing to me that such lies as “men don’t read fiction” can survive an hour in this day and age, but such… Read more »
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[…] it’s time society stopped saying they don’t. Check out Anderson’s post, “I’ll Hold the Door for You if You’ll Leave That Baggage Behind” if you want to read […]

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[…] Porter Anderson delves into the belief that men don’t read fiction. […]

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[…] out-buy men in books.  According to Bowker’s 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review, women accounted for 58% […]

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[…] Writ­ing on the Ether: Men Don’t Read Fic­tion? BULL!  […]

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[…] WRITING ON THE ETHER | Men Read Fic­tion | JANEFRIEDMAN.COM […]

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[…] WRITING ON THE ETHER | Men Read Fic­tion | JANEFRIEDMAN.COM […]

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[…] Anderson, writing on Jane Friedman’s blog, disputes the notion that men don’t read fiction. And indie author Mark Dawson has statistical […]

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[…] This week, I want to look deeper into the notion men don’t read fiction. Before I do, I’d like you to read two articles. They are excellent and describe the problem eloquently. The first is by Jason Pinter and the second is by Porter Anderson. […]

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