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The publisher responds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So when's this book out anyway? The website says Oct 2008 which seems a long way off to start talking about the cover.
I think that should be Oct 07.
Ah, VanderMeer. Good times.

(I remain a little puzzled, meanwhile. In this company, Sterling strikes me as kinda one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others. Maybe I just haven't read him enough.)
I just think it's very depressing that 'I didn't even notice there weren't any women' is seen as the end of the discussion rather than the start of it.

Also, it's true that in a free market the sole motive of anyone with goods is to sell more products, but that doesn't mean their decisions are necessarily the best possible ones to meet that sole motive.

Would more women buy a book which advertised itself as including both male and female writers? I don't think we know. I think I'd be more likely to buy it, other women have said they wouldn't even notice. But are either group right? What's the split between the two groups? Are there any men who would like to read stories by women? I dunno, and I don't think anyone else does.

My personal belief is that making products more welcoming to outsider groups is trickier than sellers might think
My favourite authors include quite a few women (Fowler, Bear, Kennedy, Gentle, Goldstein, Murphy, Link, Roessner, Cadigan, Williams, all leap to mind.)
I have never understood why a man would not want to read stories written by a woman (or vice versa) on a general basis. I may have no desire to read some women but the same applies to some men too. The only explanation is in the perception of what men and women write about and how they write, which as we all know is rubbish. DOn't we?
Publishers sometimes say that a female name on a cover depresses sales to men, and so they have no choice but to downplay the info. I don't know how rigorous the research has been. It may be that research which meets the preconceptions of a few key figures in publishing gets a gentler reception than research which challenges it. As women buy more fiction than men it would be interesting to know whether (say) a 1% increase in sales to women outweighed a 5% drop in sales to men.

There is another issue, which is that marketing and advertising people don't always have to follow the market, they can lead it. An example is the use of ethnic minority actors in TV advertising. At one time this was a no-no as it was thought to put white purchasers off. Advertising types in the UK and elsewhere decided to buck this trend, and in fact it paid off as society itself changed.
Some of those authors have gender-ambiguous forenames, which opens up yet another area of interrogation about perceptions of writers with gender-ambiguous forenames or who use initials (even when they don't go the whole hog and take an obviously cross-gender pseudonym like Tiptree). And whether they would be more likely to be included on anthology covers. Or not.

My totally anecdotal, without checking my bookshelves (since I'm at work), impression, which is really quite strong, is that in sff, it is women writers who mainly (though not exclusively) use (what may be anyway their own) ambiguous forenames, or initials.

I wonder why.
Oh
No, I don't, not really.
I think it does depend, to some degree, on subgenre. In the urban fantasy department, I know one husband/wife team whose books are coming out under the wife's name: publisher's decision. Tim Pratt's urban fantasy series is coming out under the name T.A. Pratt (which makes me snicker, because I'm twelve): same deal.

There arrre men writing under clearly masculine names even in that subgenre. But it's interesting to see the push going the other way.
Heh, Pratt was the only counter-example I could think of.
M A Foster I believe was (?still is) a bloke. One or two others I've encountered over the years, but, as mentioned, away from my shelves.
Ilona Andrews is the other.
It would be interesting to see whether this also pertains in the romantic fantasy subgenre. In 'straight' romance, I have a very strong sense that male writers have to provide suitably female pseudonyms (geared towards the demands of particular subgenre) rather than just neutral names or initials. Maybe this has changed, though.
HG Wells, Jules Verne, JG Ballard, KW Jeter, Roberta Heinlein

but seriously, perception is what matters here. We can all point to a dozen counter-examples but if publishers think people see authors differently because of gender then they will respond.
The only explanation is in the perception of what men and women write about and how they write, which as we all know is rubbish.

Well, there is perhaps something around this. Some of my favourite authors are also women. However I know (because I have a spreadsheet in front of me) that books by women only account for between 10 and 20 percent of my reading. I suspect this is something to do with a gendered preference for a certain type of novel.
However I know (because I have a spreadsheet in front of me)

You are tuddles AICMFP.
::head explodes::
You know, one of the problems I see here is that, well, defensiveness rarely constitutes good marketing.

::sigh::

Forgive me if this was previously noted. I couldn't find a picture of the cover yesterday. Then I found it this a.m.

The cover names are one thing - the art is another!

http://asterling.typepad.com/incipit_vita_nova/2007/08/far-be-it-from-.html