Support systems

We’ve lately had the good fortune to represent some lovely women, like Tracey Garvis Graves and Colleen Hoover, who started out self-publishing their fiction and for whom we’ve now been able to make some significant deals with “legacy” publishers (have I mentioned that I really dislike that term?).  These women are very smart and committed about their work, but they are also incredibly generous in their support of other writers who are embarking on the same kind of venture.  They belong to online support groups where they critique each other’s works, give each other tips on how to market their books, and serve as cheerleaders to each other on their public platforms.  As Jane mentioned in her blog post last week, authors mentoring and supporting other authors should not be a surprising phenomenon, but, in fact, it often is.  It’s also wonderful and important and we hope that other authors are taking note and emulating this kind of esprit de corps.

But, as I mull over this interesting development, it occurred to me that I don’t see this kind of “community” among male writers.  Sure, people like our own David Morrell are tireless in speaking at conferences, sharing  insights with up and coming writers, and offering priceless advice (in David’s case like the professor he once was).  And I know that  Joe Konrath, whom we’ve represented for many years, has a huge online following for his often controversial but always provocative views about the publishing process.  But, I have not seen the kind of small  influential online writing groups among male writers that seem to be flowering in the women’s fiction world.

Why is this, do you suppose?  Is it a XX/XY thing?  Is it because of category?  Is it because men are more naturally competitive and women more nurturing (to apply the most pervasive stereotypes)?  Or do these groups exist and thrive and I’m just not hip to them?

9 Responses to Support systems

  1. I think it’s just a xx/xy thing. From what I know of men — I have a husband, two sons, three daughters and one female dog — they just aren’t into bonding the way women are. They like to DO. My husband has a group of friends and they DO stuff together, whereas my friends and I are happy to sit around and talk about each other’s lives and problems and share our joys. And eat.

  2. Skye Taylor says:

    I think Erika makes two really good points, having nothing specific to do with writing or any particular career, Men do tend to be DOERS and more competitive on average than women. In the same XX/XY frame of reference, how many jokes have been written about women refusing to ask for directions? Men, on the other hand….. There’s a reason for that – they are just wired differently. I watched my husband assemble dozens of Christmas projects in the guise of Santa over the years and no matter how many parts or how complicated the toy, he always ignored the printed directions – confident in the knowledge that he could figure this out on his own. Why waste time reading the instructions? So, why wouldn’t this characteristic carry over into a man’s writing. And if the individual isn’t inclined to ask for help, guidance, critique etc, why would he figure that a group of men doing so would be any different. Teaching or telling others how to do something is a whole different thing which is why they give workshops and teach classes even when they aren’t inclined to join or form support groups among themselves.

  3. Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa says:

    I’m a member of Absolute Write, a huge online writing community. Many of its members are men, and some of its most helpful members are men.

    And my husband reads directions better than I do.


    Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa

  4. Kerry Gans says:

    There is a thriving writer’s community in the Doylestown/Philadelphia area. While this area has always been writer-friendly, the community has reached new levels largely due to the efforts of author Jonathan Maberry, who believes firmly that we lose nothing by lifting others up, and in fact we all win by being supportive of one another.

    After starting numerous classes and groups on his own, Jonathan co-founded the Liars Club, a group of published writers. The Liars Club now teaches many of the workshops with Jonathan and sponsors the monthly Writers Coffeehouse in Willow Grove, PA. The original Coffeehouse has been so successful that the Liars have opened satellite meetings in Center City Philly, the Main Line, and Delaware, and hope to open one in Princeton and perhaps another location or two.

    The Coffeehouse I attend seems to be almost half and half as far as men vs. women.

    There is also a vibrant online Yahoogroup for this community–writerscoffeehouseonline–that has members from all over the country, if not the world.

    I have found this group to be helpful and fun to hang with. I’ve learned a lot from them!


  5. Dalya says:

    I’d say there are more women writing than men, based on the mix I see at workshops and courses.

    Women (speaking very generally here) have a very different communication style, and will chime in simply to agree with a blog post, whereas men will hold back and wait until they disagree, then speak up. Big difference.

    I post in the Kindleboards Writers’ Cafe, where we have a great mix of guys and gals (at least according to their avatars!) It is, without hyperbole, the best place, EVAR. :-)

  6. EDWARD says:

    (with apologies to Virginia Woolf) : Dryden once said, “Great wits are sure to madness near allied / And thin partitions do their walls divide;” Dryden’s sister, of course, disagreed. She said that great wits are inappropriate in the living rooms of decent people, it is very unpleasant to be a mad person, and comparing the two is totally unacceptable. (I found the sister’s exact words on the back of a Bob Dylan album). Things haven’t changed much from Dryden’s time. Few females can mentor anything but the next Fannie Flagg, which guys don’t like because it’s the next Fannie Flagg; males need mentoring from either gender, but it’s rare (as noted in the posts above) to find a guy who will sit still for directions. Especially directions from Dryden’s sister, which invariably include a U-turn.

  7. D. C. DaCosta says:

    It seems to me that, for whatever reason, women lack confidence in their talents and constantly second-guess themselves. Conversely, men tend to over-estimate their abilities.

  8. Anon for a reason says:

    I find both men and women supportive. But if you think women are more supportive and nurturing you should take a gander at what goes on in the romance world. These women are vicious and will stop at nothing to get attention. It is actually very entertaining to watch at times, especially in the mm romance sub-genre where so many women are pretending to be men. One actually hired a guy to go to book signings and pretend to be her. So I can’t agree that women are more supportive than men. I think it’s a balance.

  9. Kate Traylor says:

    I think it depends on the genre you’re writing in. I write YA fantasy, and am in a general fantasy/sci-fi writers’ group, and that group is dominated by (brilliant, friendly, helpful) men. : )

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