From The Wall Street Journal:
In ‘City of Dark Magic,” a new fantasy novel about a Beethoven scholar and a murder mystery in Prague, no one is quite who they seem to be.
Neither, it turns out, is the author, Magnus Flyte, a supposed international man of mystery, who is actually a pseudonym for the book’s authors, Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey.
Ms. Lynch and Ms. Howrey decided to use a male pseudonym for their first thriller partly because they read studies saying that while women would buy books by either sex, men preferred books by men, says Ms. Lynch. They didn’t want to risk losing a single reader. “Why would we want to exclude anyone?” says Ms. Lynch.
The Brontë sisters published their 19th-century masterpieces as the Bell brothers, because, Charlotte Brontë wrote, “we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice.” More than 150 years later, women are still facing the same “prejudice” in some sectors of the publishing industry.
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Science fiction has a strong tradition of female writers not only using male names, but pretending to be men. Throughout the 1970s, James Tiptree Jr. won fans and book awards. Not until 1976 was it revealed that the author’s real name was Alice Sheldon.
Fantasy has been somewhat friendlier for women, but generally not if they are writing about male characters. J.K. Rowling has famously said that her publisher, Bloomsbury, told her that she should sell the Harry Potter books under initials, not her given name, Joanne. Even after being revealed as a woman and becoming one of the best-selling authors of all time, those rules often still apply.
“Would a 12-year-old boy have picked up a book by Joanne Rowling?” asks John Scalzi, a sci-fi writer and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. “Once you have your audience, you’re fine—J.K. Rowling still sold when people found out she was a woman—but it’s getting the audience that’s important.”
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)