Okay, here it is, my big announcement: I’m considering becoming a man. It’s a man’s world. Maybe it’s time I just go with it.
I mean in a literary capacity, of course. (What did you think I meant?). I am writing a book that’s got some more action in it than the ones I’ve written so far and I’m wondering if it might just do better if I go the JK Rowling route and create a pen name that obfuscates the fact that I’m a woman.
I’ve been considering this for a while now. Writers write different genres under different pen names all the time (think Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb). But what really got me thinking was a piece in Jezebel earlier this month in which a female writer recounted her experience of sending the exact same query to literary agents under both her female name and a male pseudonym. (Link below if you’re interested in the whole piece). The outcome? Her male alter ego got seventeen requests for a full manuscript out of fifty queries, while she as a female got two. TWO. Same query letter. Same sample pages. Gender bias is real and alive in even the most progressive of industries, including publishing.
And is the public any different? Am I? Would I watch a war movie starring all women (Bad question, perhaps, since I’d be unlikely to watch any war movie, but you get the idea). Would the Terminator have felt as ominous if it had been played by Reese Witherspoon? It’s the same thing on the literary side too. Would The Old Man and the Sea have been as well-regarded if it had been written by an Anne Hemingway?
Sure, it’s up to us to fight the patriarchy. But one way to do that is by becoming successful enough that it can’t affect us. And maybe that means joining ’em for a while. Not sure, but considering it. Suggestions for my male nom de plume welcome.
Click here for the full piece on Jezebel.