J. K. Rowling stunned fans when she was ousted as the crime fiction writer Robert Galbraith.
She writes on her website:
When I ‘unmasked’ myself to my editor David Shelley who had read and enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling without realising I wrote it, one of the first things h e said was ‘I never would have thought a woman wrote that.’ Apparently I had successfully channelled my inner bloke!
But there is a serious side when it comes to gender politics in publishing.
An article about the struggles of finding a publisher, written for Jezebel by Catherine Nichols, has been trending recently.
In it she explains the difficulties she experienced surrounding unconscious bias... That is until she started using a male pseudonym.
Nichols writes that she was trying to find an agent, which is pretty much a requirement when it comes to getting a publishing deal.
She started sending out what she calls a query – an email with a cover letter and the first few pages of her manuscript. She writes:
I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George [her male persona] 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.
Nichols sent out 50 queries under her male pseudonym in total, and got 17 requests from agents – both men and women – asking for her full manuscript. She writes:
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.