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"Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name" by Catherine Nichols

I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad. Three manuscript requests on a Saturday, not even during business hours! The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house had turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me—Catherine.

I wanted to know more of how the Georges of the world live, so I sent more. Total data: George sent out 50 queries, and had his manuscript requested 17 times. He is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book. Fully a third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25.

"More Date on Gender and Literary Prizes" by Niccola Griffith

[T]he IMPAC, one of the richest book prizes in the world, given for “excellence in world literature,” gives zero out of the last 15 prizes to stories by women about women—but 11 to stories by men about men. Compare this to the more populist Costas, which cheerfully declare they are for “well-written, enjoyable” books: 3 go to women writing about women. In other words, no surprises: the more consciously prestigious the award, the less likely the prize is to go a woman writing about women.

Griffith has also been collecting data on other literary prizes and gender, and it is fascinating reading.


Finally, I've been reading Charlotte Gordon's excellent duel biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, Romantic Outlaws, which I first heard about from eldritchhobbit and I have been enjoying the hell out of it. I got to the bit where Wollstonecraft decides to publish the second edition of Vindication of the Rights of Man under her own name, and all of a sudden all the reviewers who thought it was awesome before now find it silly and hysterical. Which, you know, goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Alas.


( 2 comments — Add your .02 )
Aug. 9th, 2015 12:34 pm (UTC)
The Nichols and Griffith material is disturbing, to say the least, though not altogether surprising (I'm sorry to say). Thanks for sharing the information and links.

I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying Gordon's book. I'm afraid you're right re: "the more things change"...

Aug. 9th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC)
Seriously: Grr argh! I've added Gordon's other two books to my wishlist, since I'm enjoying this one so much. I'm glad you reviewed it, otherwise I'm not sure if it would have fallen on my radar!
( 2 comments — Add your .02 )

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