November 12, 2019, 05:17:42 PM

Author Topic: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations  (Read 16407 times)

Offline Nora

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #30 on: November 27, 2016, 12:27:35 PM »
Interesting idea, the thought that coming of age stories for girls are seen as YA instead of F.
Back in the day, a girl's coming of age story was likely to be a fairytale (a word that annoys me, since in French we have a clear distinction between "un conte" and "un conte de fées". So little red riding hood is a "tale", not a fairytale to us) and nowadays fairytales would fall into horror, no questions asked.
However things like Carey's Girl with all the Gifts seems to be put in horror, rather than SF or F. Isn't defining genre a thing done by publishers?

As an aspiring female author myself (though publication still has some fuzziness in its concept since I'm still to finish a piece to properly submit) I fail to be concerned, but maybe that's also because I'm not into coming of age stories, or stories that end well for the main character, or high fantasy in any form.
I assume female authors suffer in grimdark and horror as well, but publishers seem to be keen to receive more female authored work. Also we're talking about recommendation ratios, not reading. Are the female authors less read than the male ones?
Because as far as I'm concerned, recommendations are a small part of what I read. But from personal experience, quite a few female authors I've read came from recommendations here, with Becky Chambers, Naomi Novik, whoever wrote the Labirynthe of the Drakes, etc.


One thing I'm wary of is the idea that women would actually "give up" writing Sff and go on to write romances. How passionate are you, if you'd give up for the easy way out? I mean, it all depends on the people, but I'm here to write the dark stories I like, not just any pulpy thing that'll get published.
Maybe some people want to be authors, and have a list of fields they prefer, and will go do some PR if Grimdark doesn't welcome them, but I think I'd be rather offended if anyone hinted that I might ever do that myself if faced with adversity.
I mean, especially nowadays with self pub made so easy.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2016, 12:32:41 PM by Nora »
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Offline stevenpoore

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2016, 02:42:39 PM »
If people recommend few female authors, then fewer female authors have big hits, so publishers get a little warier on female authors because they don't sell fantastically, so fewer female authors are published, so fewer up-and-coming female authors see themselves represented in the genre, so fewer women submit their novels (or they go off to write romance), so fewer are published, so there are fewer to recommend, so...

What I find particularly interesting about this:


...is the almost exact same numbers reversed for SFF and YA. And I wonder if that's because fantasy featuring a female coming-of-age is likely to be sold as YA, whereas a similar male coming-of-age is likely to be straight SFF. For instance, Blake Charlton's Spellwright and Paul Hoffman's The Left Hand of God were both basically YA, but not published as such. Whereas, say, Miriam Forster's City of a Thousand Dolls was published as YA, but has precisely the same crossover audience big fantasy appeal. Never mind the Belgariad, or Magician, or all the other classics. A young man's journey to manhood is traditional fantasy territory. A young woman's is YA. (And I wonder if that, in turn, might be because women of all ages will read YA, but men mostly won't. I don't know, I'm just speculating.)

First, a Reddit list of favorite books/series written by female authors. It doesn't say the sub-genres, but probably more complete or better recommended. Since a lot of people directly search for this, here it goes:
Fantasy Reddit Top Female Authored Series Books - Results

That's a fantastic list. Regarding sub-genres, 50% of the top twenty are epic fantasy, and at first glance I'd say the rest of list is at least the same percentage, and a substantial portion of the rest of it is historical fantasy, urban fantasy mostly of the no-sex-please-we're-british variety (surprised to see Anne Rice on there, I would've called her horror), and other speculative miscellany.

Should we make efforts in recommending more men in the fields that see few of them?

Yes. If you read romance and make romance recommendations, it would be absolutely fantastic to see more attention being paid to male authors in the genre. Maybe if we can get a little gender parity in that genre, the severity and frequency of people talking down to it and its readers will reduce.

But the question here is: do we consider female authors enough when making recommendations in spec fic?

And yes, I care. Then again, I'm biased: I'm a female wannabe author. I hope that if I write a good book, I will have an equal chance of getting word-of-mouth sales traffic, and not just from the forums where I'm a member.

I still honestly don't see what's so onerous about taking a moment, when making recommendations, to consider whether there are also/more ladies whose works might be appropriate for the list. If that leads to you considering or even reading more female-written fantasy, that's a bonus! But seriously, read whatever you like. No one's saying otherwise.

Though if people do want to extend their reading, we could offer recommendations for female authors based on other favourites?
Yes, all of that. Said better than I can. & said better than I have. :)

I absolutely agree with earlier posters who said that thinking about female authors when making recommendations shouldn't be an issue, and that it should be a level playing field. But the operative term here is should. Because it is still an issue. If it wasn't then the first five names that come to mind when folk make their recommendations wouldn't be the same five names all of the time.

Thank you all for opening up the discussion on here. :)
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2016, 02:53:38 PM »
I'm not familiar with YA or Spellbright, but damn, The Left Hand of God as YA? No way...

The book features three teen boys that live locked up in a military monastery, true, but right into the first or second chapter there's some priests dissecting a girl alive, then a city ruled by some mutant guy with a torture dungeon, it's has plenty of vulgar profanity, graphic violence and I think plenty of graphic sex too (one of the teens even has a kid with a teen girl too).

Around here it was even advertised as having the hype of a "new Harry Potter". My big fucking surprise when I started reading and how anyone on their sane minds would recommend it for all ages, much less compare it to HP. The story doesn't even have magic.

And from what I know YA is separated from traditional SF/F mostly on the usage of those elements (and the exploration of certain themes) rather than just the character's age. Joe Abercrombie wrote an YA series, I haven't read it yet, but I heard he had to use some elements expected of the genre and drop others that "wouldn't fit".
Prince of Thorns has Jorg as 14 and flashbacks when he is 10, but yea, I wouldn't definitely wouldn't put that targeted mostly for a YA audience...

I read one article or one comment that women were deliberately switching to YA and they listed their reasons, I will try to get that later.
I don't doubt there may be some publisher mumbo jumbo, but mostly it seems a conscious choice. YA is also broader and bigger in audience.
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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2016, 02:55:22 PM »
Hello Steven ,What are the first five names, I think we recommend quite diverse here and no one recommends bakker ;-) even I its a bit more male dominant I don't think we say the same names all the time it depends on what the poster asked for.

Someone reads you blog here ;-)


Quite interesting discussion
« Last Edit: November 27, 2016, 03:18:54 PM by Eclipse »
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Offline Nora

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2016, 03:31:40 PM »
Quote
Because it is still an issue. If it wasn't then the first five names that come to mind when folk make their recommendations wouldn't be the same five names all of the time.

Yeah, what are the first five name?
Because if I had to recommend only 5 names in SFF, I fancy there would be a few women authors, and no Brent Weeks, no Cook, no Wolfe, No Lawrence, No King, No Gaiman, not even Pratchet. I haven't read a single book by any of them besides Weeks, and Weeks' work I ended up DNFing due to dissolution in messy boringness.
I have a feeling not everyone would give the same top 5 names. Even on our forum here some pagans refuse to see the superiority of Sanderson (cough), or Robert Bennett Jackson (cough cough).

Also, in general, I don't see why we make an issue of individual people needing to be fair and equality minded when it comes to sharing their taste with others. Numbers prove that we can hardly be fair in our reading without making a special effort, since SFF is unbalanced in what is published, due to unbalance as to what is even submitted.
Websites and blogs who want to cover the topic and hand out recommendations are the one who ought to make an effort. If people want to lay down blame, maybe we can start by seeing how many women authors are casually found on the recommended lists of sites like tor.com.
They are a media, and have active comment sections. They take on the responsibility of representing a publishing house, and interact with fans of their own published authors, etc.
I don't personally owe to anyone to be more careful on what I read. I owe to myself to read quality, and it's my never ending quest, regardless of the nationality or gender of the author. I've stated before that I have a strong dislike for seeing what authors even look like, or what they believe in. People like Sanderson personally put me off, with his face, his squeaky voice, and his religious views. I prefer to read a book and judge a author by it. I'd be just as happy if books all came with generic fake author names of a 3rd gender and everyone published refered to as "xe".
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #35 on: November 27, 2016, 03:47:12 PM »
If people recommend few female authors, then fewer female authors have big hits, so publishers get a little warier on female authors because they don't sell fantastically, so fewer female authors are published, so fewer up-and-coming female authors see themselves represented in the genre, so fewer women submit their novels (or they go off to write romance), so fewer are published, so there are fewer to recommend, so...
This looks like a long, complicated string to basically accuse us readers of this problem. and apart of that string is saying that books only sell well if they're recommended. So what's your definition of recommended? Is a Goodreads rating not a form of recommendation? Is a review not a type of recommendation? Or is a recommendation only someone telling you that you should read x?

Offline Raptori

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2016, 03:58:52 PM »
If people recommend few female authors, then fewer female authors have big hits, so publishers get a little warier on female authors because they don't sell fantastically, so fewer female authors are published, so fewer up-and-coming female authors see themselves represented in the genre, so fewer women submit their novels (or they go off to write romance), so fewer are published, so there are fewer to recommend, so...
This looks like a long, complicated string to basically accuse us readers of this problem. and apart of that string is saying that books only sell well if they're recommended. So what's your definition of recommended? Is a Goodreads rating not a form of recommendation? Is a review not a type of recommendation? Or is a recommendation only someone telling you that you should read x?
It's not laying blame at anyone's feet, it's saying that it's a cycle with no one point at fault. Several (any?) of those points could be changed - publishers could deliberately publish more women for example - and as a result the entire cycle would change, and over time the gender balance would shift.

The points over which readers have the most control are the books they decide to read and the books they recommend. Therefore, any reader who percieves a bias in the subgenre and wants it to change should read and recommend more books by female authors, and encourage others to do the same. Hence threads like this one!  :)
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Offline Nora

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2016, 04:09:37 PM »
What to do with the problem of Lanko's good links, which prove that publishers often receive far less female authored manuscripts?
Publishers of Horror would be loath to reach equality if they truly only receive 17% written by women. What if we made manuscript submission anonymous? And if at the end, the chosen work were still the same representation because there still were so few women interested in writing horror?

In the Horror Goodreads list, I'm pissed to see King recommended SIX times in the first 10 books of the list. If we only count him as first recommendation, then Shirley Jackson is fourth on that recommendation list in Horror. The sixth, seventh and eighth are all women, Shelley, Rice, and Levin.
Not bad for a genre that some publishers say they receive only 17%. Must mean that women can do great at it, regardless of how few they are. And indeed the list sees repeats of Rice or Jackson's name but not many others in diversity.
It still irks me to see that much King. Gotta educate the masses! Upvote Red Dragon! \o/
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2016, 07:43:46 PM »
Oh, I thought the original start post of this discussion shared a link to the blog post in question, but I see that it didn't. Let's actually get everyone on the same page: Here is Steven Poore's brief blog post.

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2016, 08:23:02 PM »
To be honest I think his visiting the wrong fantasy forums, when there not even recommending  female author at all and recommending Bakker ;-) (sorry gem)

Aren't we lucky to have found this forum. This discussion  would have gone hostile elsewhere probably.


And I believe on this forum we all read different stuff and read widely that's why our recommendations are not just the same five on this forum.


If we did have a 5 here it probably be

Scott Lynch
Robin Hobb
Jen Williams
Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch


 

« Last Edit: November 27, 2016, 08:39:02 PM by Eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

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Offline Mehman

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #40 on: November 27, 2016, 08:58:56 PM »
I'm actually more confused now that I've read that blog post. Am I supposed to go out of my way to include a female author or two on my 10 Most Anticipated list when their particular stories don't interest me to please someone else? Is it "shame on me" for not reading enough female authors? What if the books I've read in the past that were written by a female author were DNFs for me - am I supposed to want to read her new work but, if I don't, that says I'm a bigoted misogynist?

I'm so confuzzled...

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #41 on: November 27, 2016, 09:01:26 PM »
I do seem to read more male writers, yet I have female writers I heart big time.  Robin Hobb, Ursula LeGuin, Hilary Mantell.  So I don't think it's me being put off by a writer being female, I don't even consider the gender of the author when choosing a book.  Just purely more males get published.  Which should have alarm bells ringing.
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Offline Peat

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #42 on: November 27, 2016, 10:27:04 PM »
Gotcha. No, I don't know in what proportion of M/F my respondents read. I'm not sure it matters. Either their recommendations follow their reading pattern and there's a problem with readers ever even reading female authors - or they don't, and female authors are being pushed less and stick less in the mind when it comes to recommendations. Either way, there seems to a problem somewhere here; at least there is by my lights.

Now, that we don't have 50/50 representation in submissions to the genre or authors in the genre seems to be very likely. The figure of 1/3s women to 2/3s men Lanko gave us from Tor sounds reasonable - and thank you Lanko for finding those numbers, really helpful.

My overall list contained a third female authors. But my list stripped of the outliers came up below 20%. Other lists of similar vein came below 20%. My small sample suggests that female authors are not being recommended as heavily as male authors, even allowing for the fact there's more male authors.

Lets make the sample bigger. I searched recommendations and went counting on every useable thread on the first page. Where the tone of recommendation being asked for isn't obvious from the URL, I've added it.

In the 17 threads, we've recommended 233 male authors and 136 female authors at least one time in a discrete thread. Cool. That's about where it should be.

That drops to 192 male authors and 69 female authors if we take out the threads asking for Strong Female Characters. That's not so cool but, at a bit over a quarter, its better than some of the numbers I was seeing elsewhere.

If we look at the threads where people are asking for female characters/asking for a woman/provide a favourites list of mainly female authors, then 4 of them hit a third of female authors and only 1 below. When people just asked for fantasy recommendations, then 4 of them had female authors making up a third and 8 not.

And in the couple of threads where people were mainly given UF or asked for a YA, there were 17 recommendations for male authors and 9 for female authors. Sure that's better than straight fantasy, but it doesn't represent the numbers Lanko gave for Tor submissions. This is a titchy teeny sample but it fits the general pattern that recommendations for women < number of women in the genre. The only time that's not the case is if people specifically ask for Female Leads, or books for a Woman.

And with twenty threads now looked at here, I'm beginning to feel that's a reasonable sample to be working with. I'm sure making it bigger would be better, or looking at other forums, or maybe some of the lists on BFB or elsewhere, but its looking pretty likely that we'll start seeing the same pattern.


Finally - No one is seeking to call anyone a bigot. No one is seeking to make anyone feel bad. The idea is to call out a pattern that deprives us of knowing the best in the genre because there's not a fair playing field. What people do with that information is up to them.

The numbers/links.

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommendations-on-light-fantasy-novels/msg140383/#msg140383 - 13M/6F

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/book-recommendations-9319/msg137700/#msg137700 (Angels/Devils theme) - 7/0 (6 UF)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/desperate-for-book-recommendations/ (Adult Romance subplot preferred, 2/3 female authors in favourite authors) - 13/7 - but 4 of the recommendations for female authors came from MagiSensei. Remove them and its 13/3

Weeks, Butcher, Aaronovitch, Abercrombie, Wooding, Sanderson, Nix, Stroud, Wexler, Karpyshyn, Hearne, McClellan, Sullivan,

Carey, Hobb, Aaron, Briggs, Resnick, Harris, Pierce (all 4 MagiSensei), Garlick

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommendations-for-a-returning-wanderer/ (last book loved Hobb's Dragon Haven) - 14/5

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommend-some-good-comic-fantasy/15/ - 17/1

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommend-some-dungeon-crawl-novels/ - 11/4

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/author-recommendations/ (Sanderson/Abercrombie/Lynch given as favourites) - 34/11

Full list with number of times recommended

Lawrence3, Wooding, Weeks5, Sullivan2, Watson, Marshall, Fletcher, Staveley, McClellan4, Wells, Butcher2, Scull, Hulick3, Cook2, De Castell, Polansky, Gilman, Bennett, Martin, Tolkien, Jordan, Abercrombie, Rothfuss2, Sanderson, Kay, Lynch2, Abraham, Austin-King, Gwynne, Hearne2, Wendig, DeLint, Brust, Zelazny

Hobb3, Williams, Jemisin, Elliot, Aaron, West, Jones, Jones, Canavan, Dawson/Bowen, Hurley

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommend-me-something!/ (Strong female lead required) - 7/13 (Arry and Mr J give majority of recommendations in this thread)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/book-recommendations!/msg83030/#msg83030 (Rothfuss/Sanderson/Gaiman/Tolkien listed as favourites - 14/7 (6 came from MagiSensei, so remove those recommendations and its 11/1)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/hi-and-please-recommend-)/msg91368/#msg91368 (Completed, Clear Magic) - 8/5

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/introduction-and-recommendation-request/msg117503/#msg117503 (??) - 6/1 (Mainly MagiSensei)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/looking-for-an-adventure/msg135057/#msg135057 (Adventure) - 7/5 (6/1 without MagiSensei)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/book-recommendation/msg129029/#msg129029 (New to fantasy, standard fantasy) - 14/2

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/need-some-suggestions-recommendations/ (Loves Magicians/Sorcerers, Shorter) - 11/2

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/asking-for-your-recommendations/msg8465/#msg8465 (2011, gifts for 15 year old girl) - 11/9 (ignoring the anime recommendations as I'm lazy)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/on-the-prowl-for-some-recommendations/ - (Standard Fantasy) - 11/3

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommendations-7154/msg91422/#msg91422 (non-gritty non-European non-Good/Evil) - 8/6 (Only 4 people recommended (why do yinz hate Raptori and not give recommendations?) and removing Cupiscent gives 7/2)

http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/fantasy-book-discussion/recommendations-for-strong-female-characters/ - 33/54

Full list

Yong, Bell, Abercrombie2, Sullivan2, Sanderson5, Brett2, Mieville3, Eddings2, Weis/Hickman2, King, Pratchett2, Mitchell, Silverberg, Feist/Wurts, Butcher2, Aaronovitch, Zusak, Williams, Clemen, Marmell2, Heinlein, Jordan2, Nix, Durham, Norton, Hines, Weeks, Martin, Gwynne, Fforde, Pullman, Wooding, Wexler

Pierce2, Sebold2, McGuire, Cherryh2, Kiernan, Douglass3, Le Guin, Hurley, Morgan, Canavan4, Cooper, Hawkins, Eddings2, Weis/Hickman2, Feist/Wurts, May, Bujold2, Snyder, Cashore, Priest, Elliott, Sedia, Okarafor, Buroker, Miyabe, Fallon, Hambly2, McKenna, Wilson, Saintcrow, Ballantine, Chan, Morgenstern, Marks, Maas, Moon2, Martin, Britain, Rardin, Carey, Kiernan, LeFevre, Lackey, Forsyth, Herbert, McKinley, Rosseau-Murphy, Sagara, Williams, Hobb, Turner, Kimbriel, Osborne

Offline cupiscent

Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #43 on: November 27, 2016, 11:58:20 PM »
Holy moly, fantastic work Peat. And well said.

Offline stevenpoore

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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
« Reply #44 on: November 27, 2016, 11:59:43 PM »

Finally - No one is seeking to call anyone a bigot. No one is seeking to make anyone feel bad. The idea is to call out a pattern that deprives us of knowing the best in the genre because there's not a fair playing field. What people do with that information is up to them.

Yep, that. & I should probably qualify the "first five names" comment by saying that it's more often the F-F Facebook discussion group than this forum that I'm thinking of. Even then, looking through the most recent threads now, the recommendations are actually more varied than they've been in the past.

I'm certainly not calling anyone a bigot or calling their intelligence into question. (If you read the post that way then I apologise unreservedly.) And while I understand that bestselling authors will be shouted up far more than the midlist and beyond, I'm really just looking for a bit more breadth in what is after all a really broad genre.
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