Female Characters, Book Pyramids and Mashups

Want some reading of the ranking and listing and charting variety?

From Billie: The Overthinkingit.com Female Character Flowchart.

There was a lot of sketching involved in the creation of that graphic. Holy smoke.

And, in further links of awesomeness, Lauren Baratz-Logsted wrote up what she considers her Book Pyramid, which parallels the AMA Food Pyramid only instead of nutrition, it ranks books by the respect they receive.

Yeah. This can’t end well for romance. I have to say, I grinned at her comment:

On behalf of every sensible-minded person in publishing, Romance, I’d like to offer my apologies. You make countless people happy and you make more money than any other category. In fact, it’s thanks to you and all the money you bring in that many other books are even published. You, in effect, pick up the tab. So you deserve better than being next to last. That said, you’re sensible, Romance, far more sensible than many give you credit for. So I know you’ll understand it’s not me putting you so close to rock bottom, but rather, I am only the messenger who has designed the Book Pyramid which merely depicts the reality you already know all too well: that what you do does not receive the respect it deserves. Now, please. Go do something about the worst of those covers. You’re practically as bad as Horror.

Sing it, sister.

And don’t forget – you can still enter the Diesel Harlequin Horror Mashup contest (beware the autoplay mp3!), which I’m judging along with Ron Hogan. Winners announced next Thursday night in NYC, and I hope you can be there in person to drink up and celebrate the crazy mash.




The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. becca says:

    The reason mystery/suspense is rated so high is that some president – FDR? – admitted he liked them, so all of a sudden they became respectable. or so I’ve read [citation needed]

  2. Great links – where do you find them?

    However, Lauren Baratz-Logsted did not identify the recommended number of books per catagory for a healthy diet!

  3. oldbitey says:

    Romance: the foundation stone that supports all books!

  4. If the book pyramid is modeled after the “old” food pyramid, then chick lit is the “grain” that should be read frequently.  Moreover, literary fiction is the “fat” that should be read infrequently.  Hey, I like that reading diet!

    Even the new “new” pyramid (with line running vertically) emphasize that a healthy eating (reading) diet contains all food (book) groups.

    Or we could compare books to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where chicklit satisfies our basic needs, romance satisfies our comfort needs, thrillers/suspense/horror satisfies our psychological needs, literary fiction satisfies our self actualization, and blogs satisfies our peak experiences!

  5. Cassie says:

    Just turning off the italics.

  6. Cassie says:

    Dammit, let’s try that again.

  7. Cassie says:


  8. Jon says:

    That flowchart is amazing and ridiculous! More of the former obviously…

  9. Sadiana says:

    The flowchart was seriously amusing, haha! And I went ahead and entered the contest (with just a one word typo I noticed after sending), so I’m crossing my fingers.

    You guys come up with the most fun stuff! Especially the HABOs, those are fun to try to figure out, ha. 🙂

  10. redcrow says:

    Ugh, that chart.
    Someone on either Livejournal or Dreamwight made a “chart” that consists of one question: “Do I like this character?” If the answer is “yes”, chances are you think it’s a strong character (because then you tend to ignore or excuse their flaws and only see a positive side), if the ansver is “no”, the character is obviously weak, badly written and stereotypical (you don’t see anything but flaws). Oversimplifying? Perhaps – but so is this chart, that casts Yoko Ono (the real living person) as Not Good Enough To Qualify As A Strong Female Character.

  11. Jane says:

    I no longer believe that romance supports any other book genres besides their own.  Mass market books, which is the primary format for romance books, is one of the lowest revenue earning categories for all of books.  Less than trade, hardcover, YA hardcover/paperback.  Further romance numbers are seriously inflated by the inclusion of Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, and other authors like those.

  12. Terry Odell says:

    Loved the flowchart, especially after I clicked on it and it got big enough to read! Thanks for sharing.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist—of Mystery

  13. Katie says:

    A) Not all fantasy has hobbits and elves.
    B) What’s wrong with hobbits and elves?

    /offended fantasy fan

    Loved the book pyramid! As for the female character flowchart…I think it defeats its own purpose. There are many types of women, so when you have a broad range of types in fiction, that’s a good thing! I think, at least. There is no single kind of strong female character, just as there is no single kind of strong male character.

    peace38—38 years to world peace? I’d take it!

  14. Kirsten says:

    I must totally disagree with where Lauren placed horror on her pyramid. I’d put it in last place. Next time you go to a retail bookstore, go look at the horror section. About 90% of the books are by Stephen King, Anne Rice, or Laurell K. Hamilton. Sometimes there are a few Leisure titles thrown in (Leisure is a Dorchester imprint, btw, and the only major mass market publisher of horror fiction). Most publishers of horror fiction are small presses, don’t make much money, and can’t afford to sell their books through wholesalers.

    People think horror readers are mainly teenage boys and horny losers, when in fact there is a large contingent of highly educated women who read it. There are also a lot of highly educated people who write and review it. 

    MonsterLibrarian.com has been asked to review books that fall under fantasy and paranormal romance (YA vampire fiction is our most popular category) and thrillers. We have to request books from major publishers or hope our volunteer reviewers get their hands on the books somewhere. In research on engaging kids in reading, when the researchers hand out checklists, romance and comic books make the grade- horror titles are write in’s at most.

    HWA doesn’t have the organization to do the kinds of surveys that RWA does to identify their audience. Libraries don’t usually separate horror out like they do with romance, westerns, science fiction and fantasy

    You know, I am not an enormous fan of horror fiction, but my dh, who has four master’s degrees including one in library science started his review site because he felt that horror fiction readers were one of the most underserved audiences by libraries and bookstores. My own experience working in libraries is that most librarians don’t much like horror and most major review journals don’t give it much space, if any. The newly designed Kirkus has a romance blogger now, which is great (congratulations, Sarah) and a YA blog, but where is the blog there for horror readers?

    Just sayin’, romance may not get the same respect as “Literary Fiction”, but it’s hardly at the bottom of the heap.

  15. imelda says:

    I don’t know what you gals think of that flowchart, but there’s been kind of an explosion of feminist anger towards it, at least in my corner of the blogosphere. There are a lot of of good critiques of it in the comments of ontd_feminism, here: http://community.livejournal.com/ontd_feminism/397197.html

    There’s a roundup of essays criticizing the chart that I’m trying to find, too; I’ll post the link here if I do.

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