Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thor's Day Rant: Books are for Chicks!

If self-publishing has taught me anything over the past four years it's this: books are for chicks. 

Yes, this is a sour grapes post. But hey, grapes are nature's candy... 

Back in the 1980s, I was an avid reader of men's fiction. Lots of dudes were. Series like "The Destroyer" and "Mack Bolan" were always in fresh supply at the book store--until they sold out. Tarzan, Conan, and a host of other manly he-man adventures kicked ass on the printed page and saved damsels in distress. Communism was a four-letter word and the only people allowed to be feminine were chicks. 

Books weren't our only entertainment. We had video games. 8-bit wonders that required your imagination to smooth out blocky pixels to get the same experience books and comic books provided. Movies produced by companies like Golan Globus were full of manly action, with the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and of course, Chuck Norris. Hell, even our President kicked ass--Ronald Reagan, who got shot, but survived. Ah, good times, good times. 

Fast forward three decades. A pencil-necked geek who rides girls bicycles and winces every time he says "gun" is in the White House. Downloadable mods for video games allow prepubescent boys and basement dwellers to see virtual nude women who damn near look real. Of our five hundred-plus channels of Cable/Satellite/Internet TV, two thirds are sports. Netflix, Hulu, Xbox and so many more on-demand sources spew out continuous streams of movies. And then there's the porn. The free, on-demand, never-ending supply of porn. 

No wonder men don't read anymore. 

Even if they did, we've produced a culture of namby-pamby, pantywaisted, she-male, body spray-wearing "hipsters" who would have been stuffed in their lockers or worse in my day. Most women, even the scrawny ones, act more manly. It's an emasculated society of wussies that give guys like Adam Carolla and Ted Nugent fits. If any of these modern "guys" could peel themselves away from their X-boxes and pornhubs, they'd probably be reading Jane Austen, 50 Shades of Gray, or the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. 

What does this mean for the aspiring author?

Well, men make up slightly less than half of our society. There are women. They read. A lot. Alas, they read literary porn--smut books euphemistically called "romances". Or as my grandad called them back in the day, "crotch novels". Lots of crotch novels sell. Many a woman, or mansies posing as women, have made their fortune selling smut. 

If you are a man of my generation, you may be taking offense. Well, suck it. You're part of the problem too, clinging to your rotting, yellowed pages of dead trees, stubbornly refusing to embrace modern technology. "I like the feel of a real book" you whine like bitches. You like the "real thing"? That doesn't stop you from watching porn or eating low fat this or low calorie that. When I was a kid everyone wondered where their Dick Tracy wristwatch communicators were. The future so many bleated for is here, and your clinging to your protective polybags like the Amish to peanut brittle. Luddites. Buy a damned ebook reader already. You've got 82 inch big screen TVs and surround sound--a far cry from the cathode ray tube black and white 13" sets most of us grew up watching in our rooms. Why won't you read ebooks? You can still collect your dead trees, putting them in their book shelf shrines, and carrying their digital editions around with you everywhere. 

I'm straying off topic...

The point of all this is, yes, you can write and self-publish books for male audience, but they aren't going to find many readers. My own series of modern men's adventure seems to have more female readers than male... not that surprising when you consider the hit TV show "Supernatural" also has a predominantly female audience--something like 80%, if I remember correctly. Not all women read smut. 

Success as an author these days seems to come down to if/thens. If you're backed by a Big 5 publisher, you get prime shelf space in book stores. People see, they buy. If you're an indie, you've got to be writing in the correct genre to make lots of sales. If you're a male, forget selling much, because modern chicks are sick of white male authors dominating the industry and will boycott your work with feminist fervor. 

Self-publishing is a glorious thing, especially for readers. In years past, consumers were forced to read what the literary agents and publishers "liked". Variety just wasn't there. In today's market, just about any kind of story you can imagine is out there. True, you might be one of five people reading it, but it's there. This is crucial for indies just starting out. Not because you should chase a genre, but because you should have realistic expectations about what you're going to sale. 

Of course, since men don't read, only aspiring chick authors will have read this, and I doubt many will have made it to the end. Ah, well, if you have, good luck with your chosen genre--you may well need it.

(Disclaimer: Soldiers in the field read paperbacks... they don't require batteries, are far more durable and can provide material for a variety of other uses. Reading paperbacks if you're a service member is pragmatism, not a rejection of technology. Thank you for your service!)

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