Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

Discuss SFF books and authors here.
By Eclipse
I was bored and counted my ratio in my TBR pile

16 ladies to 14 gentlemen out of 30 books on my TBR pile. It's gone a bit tiny haha.

I was expecting it to be the other way round. When I first started reading it was like 70/30 for me. I guess my reading habits changed over time.

Could you guess if it was man or woman writing the story if you didn't know the author's gender? I know I couldn't.

I remember the speculation of KJ Parker gender in the past.
I definitely have more male authors than female authors, but I'm not sure if that reflects anything. Is it because publishers won't accept female fantasy authors, or are there less female fantasy authors in general, or do I just like the books written by male authors more? Maybe they're just promoted more?
I have no idea, and I don't have concrete data.
Going through my list of what I've read so far this year, it's about 50/50 split. I know people say it, but honestly the gender of the author pays no part in both my buying and reading habits. The biographies tend to skew male, but that's largely because they're sports and music dominated.
xiagan liked this
Hmm. I've read 16 books so far in 2024 and only 2 were authored by men. It's actually beaten out by the 3 books authored by people preferring neutral pronouns...

In general, the gender of the author doesn't matter to me, but I have noted that my taste has drifted further and further from what I mentally call "blokey" fantasy, which certainly isn't always written by men, nor is it only what men write. I prefer a bit of romance, a bit of court drama, a bit of paradigms undercut, a bit of interiority and domesticity. And this tends to mean that when I'm looking at new books, the ones that pique my interest happen to be more often non-male authored.

F'rinstance, my to-read list of "2024" releases has 34 books on it and includes 6 male authors - those being new books from Robert Jackson Bennett, Max Gladstone, and Django Wexler; a translation from Sung-Il Kim (even the translator is male); and debuts from James Logan and Jared Pechacek.
I don’t pay attention to the gender of the author when I’m choosing the next book to read. I do tend to skew more female that male, though, mostly because I like a bit of gentle romance & “cozy” feel to my books in general.

I’ve read 8 books so far this year, and 7 are by women. If I didn’t re-read Ice Station every January I wouldn’t have any male authors :lol: .

I have made more of an effort in the last few years to read more non-Western authors, as with anything, there are some I have really enjoyed, others that I’ve bounced off hard.
I don't decide on a book by the author's gender, but in pure statistics I definitely lean more towards male authors. Partly this is because of the number of authors published in each gender, and I suspect there are clear lines in terms of genre divides for gender as well (military SF and hard Sf are fairly male-dominated). At times I have actively sought out female authors to address the balance, but this has always led to me reading books I didn't enjoy, so I stopped doing that.
I do feel like there's a marketing issue too. Many of the female-authored books I see explicitly make reference to the author's identity, or market the book as subversive or feminist in some way, which is a surefire way of putting me right off. Whereas those books that simply give me an interesting premise tend to to score better regardless of gender.

Raw data:
Fantasy (39 female-authored books out of approximately 400)
Science Fiction (38 female-authored books out of 598)
Warhammer 40,000 (7 female-authored books out of 155)
Star Trek (45 female-authored books out of 160)
The forum ate my post so you're not getting stats but since 2022

- Heavily male with rereads
- Slightly female with non-SFF/Horror stuff
- Slightly male with Sci-Fi/Horror/Weird (also non-fic I think)
- Perfectly balanced when it comes to reading fantasy authors for the first time
I skew more towards male authors unless I'm paying attention. Which is weird given that a lot of my absolute favourites are by women. So far this year only 2 of 9 completed books were by female authors.

Some of it's just momentum: if I was reading more men before, then I have a lot of sequels by men to read. But I guess there must be some unconscious bias in there, or some built-in bias in the genres.
I don't have any stats right now, but something like a decade ago an article I read made me examine this, and although I assumed I would find a bias, I was surprised to find that pretty much everything I was reading was written by white dudes. So I made a conscious effort to read more diversely, something that initially proved to be quite difficult. In part I think that was due to the times; I think it's significantly easier to discover diverse SFF today. But it wasn't like it didn't exist ten years ago, it was just that algorithms and a lot of places I would look for book recommendations made it difficult to dig myself out of the hole of Eurocentric SFF written by white men. Today, Amazon has learned that I am in fact okay with reading SF written by a black woman (*gasp*), so it's easier not to get stuck. But it's a little scary how we can get tunnel vision because of how large parts of the internet is based on assuming we only want to keep doing the same thing.
In order to answer the question, I went back to when I started to keep a spreadsheet, so I have quite a bit of data. Over 13 years, and 645 books, I've read 49% female authors, and 49% male. The other 2% are made up of books that either have multiple authors of both genders (Weis & Hickman), or I actually know are neither.

I would say that the percentage of translated, or minority authors is something that is gradually changing, although not through any specific effort, just the availability and awareness of different voices out there.