Why Are There So Few Non-Male Authors in Nonfiction Publishing?

Why Are There So Few Non-Male Authors in Nonfiction Publishing?

If you’re scrolling through the New York Times Bestseller list looking for a new book to read, you’ll notice an unsettling trend.

While a fair number of women have top selling fiction books, the nonfiction section is dominated by male authors. This week alone, women made up only six of the 20 best selling nonfiction books (print and e-book combined.

Since men write the majority of nonfiction books it is unsurprising that the majority of subject matter is about men. Statistics found in a study done by Slate revealed that 69% of female authors wrote biographies of women, but by contrast, only 6% of male authors wrote about women.

In an article published in The Millions, author Anne Boyd Rioux points out that the presence of gender inequality also stems from the lack of recognition for nonfiction books written by women. On average, most National Book Awards nominations go to male authors and traditional subject matter that reveal “its unwillingness to think beyond the male-dominated forms of nonfiction that have garnered the most gravitas in the past.”

As a result, the nonfiction sections of bookstores are filled with subjects catered mostly towards male readers. Some examples of popular subjects mostly include wars, sports, biographies of famous men, and anything targeted towards the interest of older white men who we typically thing of as traditional nonfiction readers.

By neglecting to publish narratives on women’s history, women of color, or perspectives about the LGBTQ community, we tell these communities their struggles do not matter, and negate their existence. So why aren’t editors and publishers pushing for more books by women about women?

Traditional book marketing says that fiction books are for women, who are intrigued by the fanciful and the romantic. Men on the other hand crave the academic and the realistic, drawing them to nonfiction. By this logic, there is no need to put more nonfiction books on the market about women and women’s issues if there’s no audience to buy them.

Additionally, the most popular history books sold, whether written by men or women, have for a long time been about presidents, royalty and wars. Supposedly further proof that women’s perspectives are less likely to sell.

But both lines of thought are self-fulfilling prophecies. People will buy books about subjects they recognize, and the most visible subjects are those that get published. In a perfect Catch 22, by not pushing for more books by women, the publishing industry has stifled the stories of marginalized communities; the people who need their stories told the most.

Show the world that you as a reader that there is public interest in narratives that include women. To find your next all night page-turners, check out these lists of amazing nonfiction books written by some equally amazing women.