Can Men Write Fiction Women Want to Read?

Before I say anything more, I’d like to wish you a happy Fourth of
July! I imagine many who read this blog on a daily basis might be taking
a break to enjoy the holiday. Perhaps you’re getting ready to host a
crowd at a family barbecue or making plans to join a crowd somewhere
else.

If so, you’re probably not reading this today. If that’s so, hope you had a great day yesterday.

Over
the past several years, I’ve been interviewed on Novel Rocket several
times and have occasionally written articles about the writing craft.
Starting today, I guess you better get used to me. I’ve been invited to
be a monthly contributor.

Thought
I’d start off with something I’m curious about. The idea of men writing
fiction. What’s got me thinking about this is an honor I received last
week when ACFW announced the finalists for this year’s Carol Awards. I
was thrilled to find my name on that list for my 5th novel, The Discovery (best Historical Fiction category). I’ve won 3 Carols so far, but I’d happily welcome a fourth.

The
following day, Jerry Jenkins pointed out to me that I was the only male
author in the list of finalists. I didn’t know that. Read the list over
and, sure enough, Jerry was right.

I’m kinda used to
being in the minority by now (my first novel came out in 2009). It’s
readily apparent that far more women read and write fiction than men.
Surveys I’ve read suggest an 80/20 ratio. That feels about right when I
attend my monthly Word Weaver’s critique group and local ACFW chapter.
And I know whenever I attend a writing conference I never stand in line
at the restroom.

But events of this past week have got
me wondering if we might be dealing with a bigger problem than we see on
the surface. Could there be any underlying issues fueling this gender
gap?

Improving Our Chances

It stands to reason that if 80%
of the buying fiction audience are women, then a significant percentage
of women will need to “cross over” and buy books written by men, if the
men are ever going to make it financially as authors. This poses two
questions:

  1. Are male fiction authors writing the kind of books women want to read (and writing them well enough)?
  2. Do some women buyers struggle with a “prejudice” and only buy books written by other women?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (especially the ladies).
Some have suggested my measure of success is largely due to the kind of
books I write, which are mostly love stories and family life dramas
(reviewers often compare me to Nicholas Sparks or Richard Paul Evans).
Typically, the kind of books women like to read.

But
I’ve experienced a good deal of prejudice, myself (if that’s the right
word). I’ve lost count of the emails I’ve received from women who tell
me they love my books now, but admit they avoided them on the shelf
until after a friend recommended me. This even happened with my current
book series, co-authored with Gary Smalley. When Gary was on the hunt to
find a fiction author to work with on this new series, my publisher
sent a box of books to his executive secretary to review. She later told
me, apologetically, that I was the only male author represented in the
box and, because of that, she read my books last.


Let’s Fix This

So ladies…do we have a problem here?
If so, how big is it? What can male fiction authors do to increase this
“crossover effect” (get you buying more of our books)? Is it our
covers? Our titles? The genre we’re writing in? Is it the writing
itself? If so, what’s the fix?

Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 8 novels,
including The Unfinished Gift,
Remembering Christmas
and The Dance.

He has won 3 Carol Awards and 2 Selah
Awards. Five of his books have received RT Reviews β€œTop Pick” rating.
Two were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (2011 and 2012).
Dan is a member of ACFW and
Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach
area where he and Cindi love to take long walks on the beach. To connect
with Dan or check out his books, go to: http://danwalshbooks.com. He also blogs weekly with fellow male fiction authors Jim Rubart and Harry Kraus at: http://3menwalkintoablog.com.