4 Reasons Women Are Still Under Valued in the Literary Market - Sally Credence


By Sally Credence

 We should be laps ahead of men in the creative and literary fields. We outnumber them as liberal arts, creative writing, and English majors. Craft stores count on us for their bottom line and Pinterest’s users are 81% female. So, we should also consider ourselves the leaders in creativity. We’re not though.

 Instead, we’re still asking ourselves if we’re good enough, worthy, or welcome. We should be saturating the market. Why aren’t we? What’s holding us back?

 1.       We’re Too Hard On Each Other

FACT: Women read more than men. And according to a study, women also make up 79% of the publishing industries workforce (book publishers, agents, editors, etc.). So, one could assume that women are the ultimate decider of the success or failure of book sales too. Yet, the best sellers and names of notoriety are still handed with bowed allegiance to the authors with appendages between their legs.

 This troubling reality shouldn’t come as a surprise though. We grade each other by higher standards with less room for error about nearly everything else. We should be giving the same leeway, opportunities and risk-taking to our fellow sisterhood. But we don’t. If we really want to get our share in this market, we’ve got to start supporting each other, otherwise we’ll remain a few steps behind and in the stench of stale after-shave.


 2.            We Bow To “Kings”

Matt Forney wrote an article for a chauvinistic site (Return of Kings) comparing female writers to garbage. From the opening line, it’s pretty offensive, so beware. But here’s an interesting spin on his reasoning we’re considered “bad” writers:

  •  Don’t give anyone a pass just because of his or her gender…If a book or story is bad, it’s bad – no matter the sex the writer identifies. And if it’s good, it should be good regardless who wrote it. Nicholas Sparks isn’t an anomaly for writing great romance stories. Yet somehow, he gets cred for being male and doing it. Who says a man can’t write from a female or feminine perspective? Same rule applies to JK Rowling. She isn’t special for being female and writing fantasy. She’s amazing for refusing to bend or give up on her vision. Good lit is good lit. End of story.

  •  We Aren’t Special…Hard pill to swallow, right? We all want to feel extraordinary on our own merits, but sometimes, we simply can’t be. On the beach of life, almost everyone starts as a speck of sand with the exception of a few gems. However, we do have the ability to stand out. By making our stories more interesting, we change the landscape and create a new uniqueness we crave.  

  • Women Don’t Take Risks...More often than not, we don’t. To be safe and secure, agents and publishers pass on a new female writer simply because her story isn’t easily packaged into one of the top existing genre choices. Why? Because of fear? Writing or publishing the story we think readers want instead of the ones they need most is too often the case. The fashion industry reinvents a new trend all the time, shouldn’t we?


3.            We Settle

Fear of being alone or abandon is the number one reason we settle for things we don’t want. We devalue our worth because we think that’s the best we can get. But Stephen King didn’t become Stephen King by settling. He knew writing a genre not even fully developed yet could cost him if he failed – and he did it anyway.

 Right now the biggest outspoken female author we have to compare is J.K. Rowling. She remembers what it was like to be unknown and struggling to be heard, and when it comes to voicing her opinion, she still refuses to settle. Let’s take a lesson from her playbook.


 4.            We Give Up Too Soon

When it comes to things like childbirth and parenting, we’re in it for the long haul. We don’t give up and walk away after a few years of sleep deprivation and stress. However, when it comes to our passions and dreams, we let our spark die before our flame even ignites: we lack ambition.

 Is it because we’re afraid of the spotlight? Failure? Or is it because we underestimate our abilities?

 We have no good reason to shelve our writing simply because we’ve gotten a few rejections or bad reviews. If we’re looking for validation, we’ve got to stop going back to the well for wishes, and start going to the water source for answers. The last thing we need to do is give up.

 Yes Sisters, we should be the ones giving lessons to our literary brethren. And if we apply these points, we still have the power to do so. If we’re capable of birthing life for thousands of years, we’re certainly capable of making a few waves in a stagnant literary pool dominated by men. With the political future already primed to becoming more feminine, their shelves should be stocked with books penned by female writers and new genres ready to greet them!


About Sally...

Living in ski resort town, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she knows she's lucky to wake up in a place tourists can only visit. When she's not busy building her freelance portfolio, she's writing a new novel, performing live music at local venue, or trekking down another hiking trail, desperate to catch up with her husband, three kids, and pup.


Twitter: @credencesally

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