Today I’ve been polishing up a novella for submission, tweaking language here and there, adding a few touches for flavor and to give the narrator a bit more dimension.
(Also on my daily agenda: running my iTunes “Least Played” playlist so I can appreciate songs neglected by random shuffle, burning through the last of my hookah tobacco, enjoying a few nice hard ciders, and running The Lord Of The Rings special edition DVDs n the background on my XBox, silenced with the Spanish subtitles on. I’m weird.)
So, I come to a chapter in which my protagonist, a hardboiled detective hired to locate the missing angel of Despair, makes a bold assertion about his audience, specifically that most readers are women. Normally, I would just let this pass as part of his “unreliable narrator” charm. Or obnoxiousness, depending on how you take it.
But, On The Head Of A Pin is about, among many other things, the relationship of the heterosexual male psyche with the broad range of female archetypes. All of the angels are female (or at least they appear to him that way) as is his client. It’s essentially a “Man In A Woman’s World” story.
In light of this, I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I came up with:
- Eric Weiner at NPR reports that: “Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market, according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain.”
- Alastair Jamieson at The Telegraph reports: “A study of reading habits showed almost half of women are ‘page turners’ who finish a book soon after starting it compared to only 26 per cent of men. The survey 2,000 adults also found those who take a long time to read books and only managed one or two a year were twice as likely to be male than female.”
- According to a Harris Poll discussed at MarketingCharts.com: “Among US women 18 and older who have read at least one book in the past year, 84% say they have read a fiction book. In contrast, 73% of male readers have read a fiction book.” However, contrast that with the Telegraph reports assertion that “A … survey carried out in December for the National Year of Reading Campaign found half of men and one third of woman have lied about what they have read to try and impress friends.” The Harris Poll survey numbers should probably be adjusted in light of that.
Detective Charles Roland Oliver is right: most fiction readers are, in fact, “broads.” So to speak.