In Search of the Male Reader
- Monday, July 18, 2011
Writers whose books appeal to male readers say that grabbing the attention of a male reader isn’t much different from a female reader. Both want a well-written book with a good plot and characters who speak to them. That’s not to say there are not a few differences in books preferred by men.
“Men can take some writing about emotions, but that’s salt, not the meal. Men want to see a man act like a man—I’m not talking macho behavior, I mean male readers want to see men in their novels react to crisis and conflict the way they would,” says Rubart.
“I think it's mainly a matter of subject matter,” says Donn Taylor, author of Rhapsody in Red and The Lazarus File. “For example, my first novel included a good bit of detail about airplanes, and I expect my lady readers skimmed over those. I expect ladies to be more interested in relationships and men to be more interested in struggle--not necessarily physical, but definitely in overcoming problems.”
Bertand agrees. “I really don’t write with the idea of a specific reader in mind except for maybe myself,” he says. “I write the kinds of things that I like to read, and because I’m a male, I’m thinking that way.”
Male readers gravitate more to “plot-driven books (action and pace) than character-driven books (emotions and internal conflicts),” says Germany. “There will be more action and adventure. The story-telling pace will be faster. The main character seeks adventure, stands for justice, and gains respect. They also tend to be either creepy, combative, or prophetic.”
Publishing Male Fiction
Publishers are trying to appeal to male readers by putting out books written by both men and women in genres traditionally read by men. For example, upcoming releases include an international political thriller (Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn) and crime fiction (Pattern of Wounds by Mark Bertrand), fast-paced novels (Vigilante by Robin Parrish).
“Historically, Frank Peretti’s books, the Left Behind series, and authors Ted Dekker and Joel Rosenberg are probably the biggest names who have gained male readers,” says Long. “But outside the suspense genre, there are wonderfully diverse writers like Athol Dickson, Dale Cramer, Tom Morrisey, and Charles Martin. They’re writing novels for everyone. We just wish everyone knew their names.”
Men seem to like books in the suspense/intrigue, end times/prophecy, speculative/spiritual warfare/paranormal, and fantasy genres, says Germany, although she added that Barbour steers clear of anything “more than 50 percent geared to men. For all of our fiction, we assume a female is our main target audience. Even then, most of our suspense type books that we know a man would enjoy reading sell fewer copies than our fiction that is categorized clearly as romance for women.”
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