Two days ago, the small pile of qarrtsiluni’s first chapbook still sittting on the end of my desk caught my eye. We’d sent out a bunch of copies of Pamela Johnson Parker’s A Walk Through the Memory Palace to the chapbook contest entrants, and a few for lit mag review, and these were the ones left over from that initial big wholesale order. I had a sudden, fairly obvious idea: Why not try giving them away to bloggers who’d be willing to commit to writing a review of at least three paragraphs? Sure, anyone can review the contents of the book, since it’s all online, but nothing beats having the paper copy in your hands. I emailed my co-editor Beth, and she wrote back immediately to say “Sure!”
So mid-afternoon on Saturday I posted the offer to the qarrtsiluni news blog, linked to it from our Twitter account, and circulated the link via direct message to the 339 members of the qarrtsiluni Facebook group. I said that the review didn’t need to use academic language, and that we welcomed any kind of blog — we weren’t looking exclusively for book- or poetry-bloggers. We said that supplies were limited to just ten copies, though subsequent to posting the announcement I scrounged up another five and we decided to add those as well. Emails began to pour in, just as we’d hoped. We had our first ten bloggers within about six hours, and all fifteen by this morning.
The respondents were diverse in terms of location and the size and focus of their blogs (though most were literary blogs, most of the time), and it wasn’t until I was addressing the cover letters that I noticed something peculiar: 14 of the 15 were female. Why so few men?
Well, for starters, only about a third of our Facebook group members are male (I counted). That makes sense based on my own observations of how people behave on Facebook: women are more social than men, and thus, perhaps, more likely to join groups like ours (even though like most Facebook groups it’s pretty inactive except for the occasional announcements we send out). It’s harder to know the gender of Twitterers, but scanning through our 402 followers, it appears that closer to 50 percent are male.
Other possible contributing factors that occur to me:
- Maybe the majority of literary bloggers are female (I’m guessing between 60 and 70 percent, but I could be way off).
- Female bloggers as a rule might be more interested in reading and reviewing books (as opposed to — say — pontificating).
- Male bloggers otherwise inclined to review poetry might not have been as interested since the book had a female author.
It’s this last possibility that disturbs me.