I Write Novels For Women. Now, Please. Put On Your Lipstick And GET OVER IT.

As you might surmise from the title of this blog, and because many of you know me by now, I embrace the term women’s fiction. I understand that agents and editors need an idea of what they might be getting from an author, that everyone specializes nowadays, that there are categories and bookshelves (wooden, plastic, virtual) and there needs to be some kind of system, albeit flawed.

But I also don’t mind the label because I WRITE MY BOOKS FOR WOMEN.

Yes, there were men who read The Glass Wives. I think there were six or eight of them (okay, maybe five) and only one or two were related to me. This didn’t bother me at all. Not a smidgen.

I write my books to tell myself a story I don’t yet know, but that I want to know. As the process continues I begin to think about readers, what readers need to engage with my story and make it their own. Those readers I think of are always women. My main characters are women and they’re interacting, mostly, with and because of, other women.

See how that works?

I like my feminine book covers. The only thing I ever said about book covers to my editor was that I felt strongly that my covers represented the tone of what was inside the book. And they do.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is part of this women-in-publishing uproar I understand and support.

Fact: There is no “men’s fiction” label or category, and books by men about families or relationships are filed under domestic dramas, literary, or general fiction, even if the main character is a woman. That’s wrong, and many are working to change that. Some are working to make sure it doesn’t change.

Fact: Fewer books by women are reviewed, awarded, and recognized by the industry. That’s wrong too. Especially–or perhaps only–when the books written by women really ARE gender neutral and could have mass appeal if not marketed specifically to women.

The problem, as I see it, isn’t writing for women and being proud to do so without reservation and WITH great book covers, the problem is when it is assumed that all books written by women are for women only.

That’s the issue.

It’s okay if you’re a woman and your books appeal to the general public. So it has to be ok if you’re a woman and your books are meant to appeal to women.

There are many people/Tweeters/FBers/writers who explode at the thought of a feminine book cover or women’s fiction label. It’s wrong, they type in all CAPS and BOLD. DON’T FEMININE BOOK COVERS MAKE YOU MAD? WHAT ABOUT PRETTY AUTHOR PHOTOS? AARGH! BOO! HISS!

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to look like a dude in my author photo.

It might be wrong for some, but lipstick and good lighting are right for me.

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I want to write books about women that appeal to women. I’m not doing this by accident. It’s intentional as much as it’s organic. Those are the stories of my heart, and those are the only ones I can write. Those are the only ones that keep me up at night, keep me revising a paragraph until my words say precisely what I mean for them to say in precisely the way I mean them to. And with the right cadence. I did it just this morning with the last paragraph of my next novel (not done yet, but when the last paragraph presents itself, you write it).

So while I might resent the fact that women’s fiction gets eye-rolls and shrugs and some people (women) I know say they don’t read “those kinds” of books (what? about PEOPLE?). I say, too bad. Or at least I say it in my head. And I move on.

Not only do you need a thick skin in this business, but a resilient heart.

What I don’t want is to be pigeon-holed, especially by other women, into believing that my stories for women are wrong, that I shouldn’t be writing with only women in mind.

Because that’s wrong too.

When and if I write a book that I believe appeals to a non-gender specific reading public, I’ll jump the fence—right over—while holding my skirt high in the air, so I don’t fall on my face and smear my lipstick.

Until then, I’m over it.

You should be too.




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49 thoughts on “I Write Novels For Women. Now, Please. Put On Your Lipstick And GET OVER IT.

  1. You’ve said what I’ve thought, and haven’t put into words. Dead on, Amy.

    To me, this is like worrying about negative reviews. Nothing you can do about it, and any time you spend gnashing your teeth over it, the less time you have to live, write, focus.

    Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you, Amy. I write about women’s relationships and sisters’ relationships. I’ve always believed we should write what stories are in our hearts. Those are the ones we’re passionate about. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Amy, you are so right. Writing or reading shouldn’t feel like “homework” with the idea of following instructions and abiding by certain rules. We should be free to write and read what we enjoy, to explore subjects that interest us. That is what creativity is all about. And we can’t truly be writers without it.


  4. Clapping!
    I couldn’t agree with you more. One of my slogans is “unapologetic women’s fiction” because I don’t think there is anything wrong with women’s fiction at all. Just because it’s about women (and appeals to women), it doesn’t meant the writing is substandard in any way. I love your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We live in a small-minded world, a blend of sour grapes and ineptitude (new word; feel free to use, lol). The stories you write, Amy, come from a beautiful center. Never stop. It matters to those who matter (me, for instance).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Why can’t you write just for women, if you want to? You decide who you want your audience to be, and then if those outside your target read the book too, great! Just like middle-grade and YA – the target is the tweens/teens, but we all know adults enjoy many of those books as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Go, Amy, Go! Tell ’em like it is. If we write the story we have, we’ll write true characters. Trying to fit into a mold someone else defines is a recipe for failure.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Amy. What really spoke to me was the work ORGANIC. Stories come from inside the writer and are fed by their experience, loves, desires, angers, fears–all of it. And as a woman, the fiction I write reflects my womanhood experience. Women’s fiction works for me and I’m fulfilled when ANYONE reads my work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth, I read some books and wonder just how organic they are, if some don’t write to the trends or the market..and that’s fine. It just wouldn’t work for me. I more or less have to bleed into the page to be able to stick with it for tens of thousands of words!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Amy. It’s called fiction and we make things up (LOL) but it’s not the fiction I want to write–I don’t believe I could write it — something prescribed and preordained. So let the bleeding begin. When the words do come they fill up my heart. Beth


  9. “I write my books to tell myself a story I don’t yet know, but that I want to know. As the process continues I begin to think about readers, what readers need to engage with my story and make it their own.” Oh, yes, please. I believe, as you have shown here, it’s 100 percent possible and compatible and necessary to lift up all women writers, regardless of label or genre or intended market, AND wave the banner of women’s fiction high and proudly.

    As Roxane Gay says, “If readers discount certain topics as unworthy of their attention, then the failure is with the reader, not the writer. To read narrowly and shallowly is to read from a place of ignorance, and women writers can’t fix that ignorance, no matter what kind of books we write or how those books are marketed.”


    Liked by 2 people

    • I love that quote! Though, the working author in me looks at it as a failure in some respects when good books don’t sell–and thereby the failure lands at the feet of the author, unfortunately.


  10. Well said! Women’s issues are the essentials of life, the highest level of discourse, and to be proud of! As men pick up more of the effort and rewards of nurturing and building community, they might become involved as well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, Amy, I love this post–thank you for saying such heartfelt things about women’s fiction. I especially love what you say here about needing a “resilient heart.” So true! Can’t wait to see you in Chicago! xo


  12. I hear you, Amy! Thanks for writing this so eloquently and with such feeling. I write books for women, too. And read them. I don’t even have a problem with the word Chick, which I think of as a compliment, as in, She’s quite a tough chick. Let’s all write what we write and read what we read without having to defend ourselves anymore. (Publishing companies, please take note!) Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Good stuff, Amy. Very interesting…I had quite a few men read one of my books when the cover was more “historic.” With a new cover–which is gorgeous and feminine–I seem to have fewer male readers for the title. But I have more women, so go figure.

    And I always have my lipstick handy, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well said, Amy! I don’t know how many times I’ve stepped into online discussions on this topic, and been burned because I said something similar. It’s as if people (women!) don’t want to admit that there IS a difference between the sexes, that more women than men prefer to read about families and relationships, just as more men than women prefer to read about, say, war. There IS a difference, get over it, I say! At the moment I have two, soon to be three, books which I would classify unapoloigetically as women’s fiction, and another which is general, or literary fiction. Some men have read, and enjoyed and even reviewed, my women’s fiction books, and that’s great — I wish more men would! But the stories tell the female side of life, and that is sorely needed. And I think we do it best. (Even if I don’t wear lipstick or high heels!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. SO GOOD! Thank you for this!

    I have somewhat unusual experience in defending my choice/need/compulsion to write WF–I live in an area with a large and active writing community, but the vast majority write YA/MG. There’s almost a cult-like mindset that youth fiction is the only thing worth writing, and those who do write it are rock stars or royalty. (I could name drop some pretty big YA & MG names as examples.)

    We all face different challenges, but in spite of them, three cheers for women’s fiction!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello, Ann,
    it’s an interesting topic I’ve never thought of. I’m a man (Daniele is an italian male name), but I don’t know who is my ideal reader. I tend to create male characters, I think it’s normal to do this, but I’m not sure if I write for men or for both of genders.
    I need some time to think it over. Maybe I’ll find out that I write only for men, who knows? 🙂


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