Updated: Sep 2, 2019
I've recently received a delightful message from a male reader raising an issue I hadn't previously thought about. He wrote; "Sally, you're are a champion. You've written about sport and sex, what else do men want in life? Nope, I cant think of anything." But alas, the legend himself, would never write a review and he's no Lone Ranger when it comes to expressing his reading preferences.
TEAM MATES and TEAM PURSUIT are not classed as romance, yet they skip perilously close to that genre classification. I instead label the collection as an 'erotically-charged series about sport'. TEAM MATES is sport (Australian football) first, sex second and relationships third. TEAM PURSUIT is sex in gold, her sport (surf lifesaving) silver and relationships collects the bronze. TEAM BALANCE, which is currently in the making, is sex on the lowest level of the podium, sport in second and relationships taking out the top gong.
According to Romance Writers of America statistics, 50% of the US mass market reading material is classed as romance---although we know romance is a wide and varied genre catering for many different styles. Of this 50%, 22% are male, surprisingly, although most, even in today's loosening gender divisions, aren't willing to talk about it. Most males who are reading our 'romance-like' material, do not write reviews for general consumption. However more than half of my direct messages are from male readers. And to top it off, all direct messages are words of support for the works, as opposed to varying feedback received from female readers. The very open and forthright male messages tell me men want to read punchier words, with less dreaminess, with more humour, and a side-serve of fact. They certainly need the facts. Sex is good too, I've been told, and its okay to be quite open about it (no hiding the actions under glorious description).
There's a good short article in The Canberra Times asking 'where are the male readers?'. The articles says: "Men clearly do read books. Universities are full of men, and academics do read - but perhaps it's reading non-fiction
for a professional purpose rather than reading a novel for fun. Some have even been known to read for fun - but not in the numbers that women do." And then it goes on to say "Perhaps, men tend to read boring stuff for self-improvement while women turn pages avidly for fun? The research is silent on the question."
And that is what I wish to find out. How can we get more men to come out and review our books? How can we find out what they like?
The Canberra Times article can be found at https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6323082/why-dont-men-read-books-like-women-do/