Friday, October 13, 2023

Does Book Publishing Have A Man Problem?



It sounds like a blowout football score.  

No, this is the lopsided total for Publishers Weekly’s announced list of book publishing’s best talent.  

Each year they honor whom they think are the brightest and greatest young stars of the book publishing industry, including book editors, editorial directors, marketing managers, and literary agents.  

34 women. 5 men. 

The industry, for as long as I have been in it, since 1989, is dominated by women. Why?  

Women do tend to read more books, are stronger at linguistic arts than men, and tend to take jobs that allow them to also raise a family. But we know there are many qualified men who work in publishing. So, why aren’t there more? 

Generally, book publishing doesn’t pay as well as other industries. Couple that with long hours and men will gravitate to other fields and industries. Plus, the pool of college-educated men is in decline. Across America, women outnumber men on campus by a 60-40 ratio, and they are disproportionately represented in the literary arts fields.. 

Women tend to hire whom they know and identify with — other women. The problem with that is it bleeds into influencing which books get published, how they are marketed, and who ends up consuming them. 

No doubt, we are still witnessing a backlash against men in the world today. The #MeToo movement forced some lechers out and dissuaded some women from hiring a straight guy. Plus, the book industry used to be run by men and only men got published, so all of those years of keeping women down or not allowing them a voice are being paid back, whether intentionally or not, by women today. Reverse sexism is a thing and it plagues book publishing.  

I am not a sociologist but it is not a good thing that the industry is around 75-80 percent women. Of the remaining number of men, a good chunk are members of the LGBTQ community. Tens of thousands work in book publishing, from editing and acquisitions to marketing, sales, and executive staff. If it is made up primarily of one mind, one voice, we get fed books that are filtered through a limited standard. The straight male is becoming extinct in book publishing.  

Of course not all women think alike, and their views and abilities and experiences break further down by sexuality, race, religion, geography, experience, training, etc. But women as a whole will think differently than men. We know this. The male view is muted in the book publishing world. 

So, what is the solution to recruiting, promoting, and nurturing straight men to join and stay in the book industry?  

First, acknowledge that there is a gender problem in book publishing, that there is a need to bring men into the fold. 

Next, make a concerted, mindful effort to invite and consider male applicants. Bring in more male interns and develop a hiring pool. 

By bringing more men into the book industry you may get a new perspective on what gets published and how it is promoted. Maybe male-written, edited, and marketed books will yield more male book readers.  

Society always benefits when there is a level playing field in the makeup of an industry. Just as we try to get more women into the STEM fields, we desperately need more men in the book publishing world.  

Know any good, qualified men? Hire them! 


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at  He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres. Let him be your advocate, teacher, and motivator!


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:

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