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A Man Writing Love Stories In A Woman's Publishing World
My publishing journey has been unusual enough that friends and publicists alike have suggested I write about it, especially the part about being a man writing love stories in a woman's genre. But it's not just the genre. The whole publishing and agency world I encountered was dominated by women. Sound interesting enough? Okay. There's just one little hitch. Now that I'm sitting in front of the keyboard, I find that there's not much to tell that's dramatic. Most of the women editors treated me fairly, and I worked well with the ones who gave me room to turn in. If anything, being a man may have given me a certain advantage, you know, from a novelty standpoint. Not only was I a male engineer (of all things!), with no detectable writing credentials, daring to show up with a love story, but I was touting it as a love story unlike any other, one written of love at a higher level. Well, at least it made them look up from their keyboards. Even from clear across the Internet's vast ether, I could feel their skeptical smiles. I did have advantages related to temperament. Women have always been my epitome of beauty, and I have long admired the feminine spirit and disposition, the nobility of her biological calling, the sophistication of her romantic instinct. As a result, I have always worked well with women. Plus I am grateful. Everything I ever learned about romantic love at a higher level I learned from a woman. The other advantage I had was acquired: I had studied love stories for decades and I knew the intricacies and jargon of the genre. At one point, an editor who was intrigued by my sample chapters started an e-mail conversation that escalated to a phone discussion. I knew this was curiosity bringing opportunity to my door. She was a Romance novelist as well as a Romance editor, so I was nervous as I dialed her office number. I could tell that she was surprised then delighted to meet a man who could discuss nuances of love story plot and characterization ranging from risk factors in portraying heroines as less than physically perfect, to pet theories for best lead up to denouement. I knew before the conversation was over that she would offer a contract. Not only did I address some reservations she had about my characters, but I had done so in the professional jargon she knew. As a result, she knew she could work with me for the editorial portion of the project. With all this said, let me offer an opinion based on what I experienced. To the question about whether the bar is higher for a man writing in this genre, I would say yes, at least in a certain sense. If you are a man who writes mediocre romances, then I think it will be harder for you to get published than a mediocre woman writer. But if you are a man producing material that matches the top ten percent of the genre, then the reservations that woman editors naturally have about you won't matter. You will get the consideration you deserve. Know the audience you are targeting. That counts for a lot. And be sure you can defend the theory you have chosen for how you spun your characters and how you wove your plot.