Myke Cole, who used to wander by my pages back in the day before he became a big wig author [grin], just posted about an exercise he ran where he wrote a romance scene and submitted it to a contest wherein readers were asked to guess the gender of the writer. Myke writes hard, military fiction. It turns out that half of the readers (my count was 49 of 100) felt he was a female–which is interesting, of course.
Here is a write-up of the entire exercise.
But then he goes on to suggest that this says that women will accept a male romance author. This goes against the grain of Romance industry, of course, but it’s certainly possible that it could be true. Perhaps women, who are clearly the biggest readers of Romance, would accept male writers. However, the fact that readers were unable to guess the difference in the writer’s gender does not say this.
People are strange. Whether people will by a Romance novel by Myke is a completely different question than whether they think he’s female based on his writing or not. If you were attempting to see if male authors could write commercial Romance, it would have been a far more interesting exercise to have readers vote for “read futher” or “stop” and then compile the answers based on (hidden) gender of the author. But even that would not tell you if readers would accept a male author. Readers by based on a gazillion things, and perceived gender could well be one of them. You need a much more complex experiment to draw the conclusions that Myke is trying to draw.
Now, I’m all for writers being open to write all genres and from all perspectives. But let’s not use data to say things it doesn’t.
Sorry, Myke. 🙂
LATE ADDITION: Small sample size, but what does it say that in the whole exercise the readers identified male writers as females 55% of the time, and female writers as male 56.8% of the time? Probably nothing, but it’s a fun little semi-fact.