“Of 65 years in which the Best Novel Hugos were issued, 45 (69%) had finalist ballots significantly skewed in a particular direction. Of 52 years in which the Best Novella Hugos were issued, 36 (69%) had finalist ballots significantly skewed in a particular direction. Of the 54 years in which Best Novelette was offered, 40 (74%) saw finalist ballots dominated by a particular gender. Of the 64 years in which a Hugo for Best Short Story was offered, 50 (78%) saw finalists predominantly of a particular gender.”
I was under the impression that although there were more male writers to compete with, I might stand a better chance writing as a male. I could be taken seriously. More readers would want to read what I wrote, and more publishers would be willing to take a risk on me. But how did the reality match up with the idea?
I wrote in a niche market and self-published my novels and novellas. I did go with a small press but chose to pull the work and publish on my own. Since the market I wrote for was small, everyone kind of knew each other on Facebook and Twitter, and was aware that I was a girl. I felt welcome in the community and knew three other female writers in the niche, but it was and is predominantly male. Getting online sales and reviews was hard. Was it because of my gender? I’d like to think it was more so related to a lack of marketing skills, but who knows?
I sold my work at comic conventions all over Florida, and even sold at San Diego Comic Con and was recognized by some people. That was pretty cool.
I would share table space in Artist Alley to cut down on costs. I ran writing panels. I mentored aspiring authors. Out there, in the real world, not hiding behind a screen, I found that the gender really didn’t matter.
I had been certain that at comic conventions, another predominantly male outlet, that I would be overlooked, but I held my own. There were multiple male authors I shared tables and panels with over the years, and our sales remained comparable. To sell your work, you sold yourself. You had to be outgoing and vocal. You couldn’t just sit behind a screen and wait. The vast majority of my sales were from these physical copies sold at the conventions.
You’re probably wondering what exactly selling yourself and being outgoing entailed. Did I have to flirt to sell books? Wear ultra-femme latex cosplay outfits? Was I constantly hit on, undressed with their eyes?
The answer is no. And yes. Sometimes. I did dress up, but nothing really revealing. My crowd favorite was David Bowie from the Labyrinth. No, not the slutty version. Just David Bowie, complete with a stuffed-sock package. I mean, it wouldn’t be Jared the Goblin King without it, right?
I did flirt with guys AND girls, depending on the book I was selling. If I was talking about Alice in Wonderlust, I would have to sell it to my audience, right? It’s a sexy book. It makes me feel sexy to talk about it.
I did get hit on. I did get asked out. But nobody took it too far. Well, there was that one guy… but isn’t there always? I think that it was my passion about my books that sold them, not my boobs.