Are Male Readers from Mars and Female Readers from Venus?
My novel, In a Country Burning, is about redemption, about accepting fate and even a little romance, but mostly it’s about war.
It’s about the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and highlights two of the ten years of bloodshed and genocide that took place during that occupation. Let’s not even get into the disaster the Soviets left behind for the rest of the world to clean up.
So I have to ask myself: will women read this book if I manage to squeeze in a little romance? I’ve been told women read a lot more than men. Any expert in the publishing industry will tell you that women are an important audience if you want to sell.
But Fogel says, “there are too many shoulders in this novel.” She means that I’ve got too many characters, all vying for attention and all fighting to make it into the final scene. So as I rewrite, it occurs to me that I could ditch the love interest and her family and go straight for the war story.
But will women read a war story? How many girls snuggled up on the couch with their guys to watch Band of Brothers? I’m guessing not many. There will still be one woman in the book and even a heavy bit of amorous action, but for the most part it becomes a novel about men at war.
Which is what it always was about. I made a desperate and painstaking stab at making it more like The English Patient, but I’m afraid it’s actually closer to The Hunt for Red October, but without all the cool technology.
So sales be damned. This novel needs to be shorter, sharper and more focused. Will it sell better? Well, if I don’t rein it in it won’t even make it to market.
So to all the female readers: I’m sorry. I don’t think it was going to work for you anyway. To all the men: put down the remote or the game controller and start reading again for heaven’s sake! I’m writing for you here.
By the way: if anyone feels slighted because they don’t like being squashed into a stereotype, well then read my book when it comes out. It’ll be available to both Martians and Venusians.