What’s in a name? A Book worth Publishing, apparently.

I am baking while I write the blog this week. It is a layer cake of spongy perfection called ‘This just ain’t right’. And atop its peaks I have laid a ripe, red cherry of disappointment to compliment  the bitterness.

Here is said cake, and said cherry, surrounded by a bunch of little book fairies who are trying very hard to distract me and convince me that the cake is edible in some way, but are failing miserably.


Get to the point, I hear you say? Righto then.

Names.  More specifically, writers’ names.

The article below is my red cherry of glistening ‘Seriously, this shit is still happening?’ disappointment.

Gender Bias in Publishing revealed in one Writer’s clever experiment.

Experiment in a nutshell – submissions sent out to publishers using a male name did a LOT better than the exact same submission using a female name. Better rates of success and better, more positive feedback.

The article is from 2015. Hence my, Seriously, this shit is still happening?

This sort of balderdashy, hogwash (Note: these words should be used daily to cleanse your palate.) has been going on for donkeys years. That donkey is one very, very, very old persnickety bastard. The Bronte sisters knew him, as did Mary Ann Evans and her mate George Eliot.  See here for more friends of the donkey.

But what I want to know is, is this damn animal immortal? When will the assery end?

(Editor’s note: be very careful when Googling donkey pics. You can’t unsee some things.)


Never trust an immortal donkey

My last name is not really Girl. I picked that pen name after reading the article. The article was my cherry of disappointment (aha! See? Full circle) atop gateaux ‘This Just Ain’t Right’.

In short, the article pissed me off. I had decided to use a pen name, a nom de plume, already.  Just because I wanted to. I had considered dropping my first name and going the way of the initials like good old JK. Until I realised why Joanne did what she did. It irked me. Not her choice per se, but the fact that she had to make a conscious choice to hide herself.  It continues to irk me that these considerations have to be made.  (I will say now that irk is THE best word, probably better than balderdash and hogwash but don’t tell them I said that. Irk sounds weird, it looks weird and it should be a legal requirement to use it every day.)

So, I decided in my indubitable cleverness that I would be a Girl. Cause I am one. It is a small, possibly ineffectual protest but by crikey it’s my ineffectual protest. *Shakes tiny fist*

You’d think maybe Joanne’s success would put a dent in the apparent need to scrub all lady bits from the front cover,  because shock horror, little boys DID read her stuff when they knew she was a SHE, because LITTLE boys couldn’t give a shit so long as the story is awesome. But it seems that it is still a ball ache, and particularly so in particular genres. (Yes Sci-fi, Fantasy. Stop hiding in the corner, we can see you.)


Now you’re just talking crazy Ursula. What if the author had a uterus?

Speaking of balls, those who have them are also feeling the effects of all this balderdash.  This issue is not entirely about boobs and ovaries, (almost, but admittedly not entirely) Men writing in the romance genre, for example, do go genderless or ambiguous in the hunt for book selling dollars. See here for some bodice ripping examples.

But I think the difference between the two situations stands out like the proverbial sore thumb in these two headlines.

Guardian newspaper – ‘Meet the male writers who hide their gender to attract female readers

And this one from i09 – ‘Women who pretend to be men to publish Sci-Fi Books.’


One makes the male writer sound like he is a glorious peacock luring in the deliciously oblivious female population. Hiding behind his fluttering fan, batting his eyes.

The other is about not being yourself in an attempt to attract ANY READERS AT ALL.

Okay, where are those bloody fairies? Is that cake done yet cause god damn it, this girl needs a slice.

1 Comment

  1. Aderyn Wood on May 12, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Just read an interesting article about Joanne and this very issue this morning http://www.alternet.org/books/what-no-one-has-noticed-about-jk-rowlings-rejection-letters

    Unfortunately, it seems the issue is just getting irkier! But I applaud your ineffectual protest, and agree with your point that readers (little boys and others) don’t really care who wrote the damn book!

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