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April 21, 2008



Does Nat Sobel mean, by contrast with a male author, a female author - or does he really mean: a female main character, a female POV, a style/subject likely to appeal to a female audience (whatever *that* might be)?
Thank you for posting this link.

David J. Montgomery

The larger issue is a book that is likely to appeal to a female audience, since the overwhelming majority of book buyers for fiction are women. But female author, female POV are (according to him) easier sells. MUCH easier (again, according to Sobel) is non-fiction.


Arrgh! Another example of how I shoot myself in the foot.

Frankly, I don't like female authors better than male authors (in numbers, it's probably the other way around), and I have only once had a female protagonist, and then I got angry with her.
On the whole, I'm getting sick of the mass of mysteries that were written specifically to make women feel good about themselves. Clearly their sales success proves that most female readers need such encouragement.

John Moran

The interview is certainly discouraging but somehow the bizarre image of James Ellroy working as a caddie leavens the gloom.




Clea Simon

You know, if you're writing because you see it as a viable career option, you shouldn't be writing. If you're one of us f*cked up misfits who is incapable of not writing, you don't have a choice anyway.

I tried quitting writing once, in 1989. I remember it well. I took a straight job, with good benefits and everything. But I didn't drink enough to make it stick.


Okay, I can accept being a f*cked up misfit. In fact, that's positively energizing. The problem is staying in print.

Elaine Flinn

LOL!! Some of my best friends are f*ucked up misfits - and I feel right at home. :)

I'm off to Monterey tomorrow-and then on to the Edgar's - so have fun with David you guys - It kills me to think what I might be missing here. :)

Doug Riddle

Wonderful interview.

Mr. Sobel has lots of great insights into the publishing industry. He does paint a tough picture of the industry's current condition, but publishing has always been a tough industry. Always forced to adapt to the changes in technology and the economy.

As for writing as a viable career opition, I guess I am going to have to beg to differ....If you are not writing because you see it as a viable career option, what you have is a hobby, and time that might be better spent else where. Writing is a business. Always have been. It is how editors and agents make their living, and they expect those submitting work to them to see it as a business.

I would say that that is just my opinion, but it's not, as the names Shakespeare, Verne, Dumas, Hugo, Chandler, Hammett, Leonard, Parker and Child might attest. They all wrote or write to earn a living.

Patrick Balester

Makes you wonder if a male writer could sell more books by using a woman's pen name, doesn't it?

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David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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