I will let a post I left on Rachelle Gardner's excellent blog (here's a link to Rachelle's entry: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/03/do-authors-have-a-right-to-be-paid/#comment-304639) carry the day on my own blog. There are some issues here on which I just felt the need to comment. Here is my comment:
There are so many issues here, but I will center on the most obvious one. Anyone who is honest knows the key is women readers, who make most of the purchases. (I thought Rachel's article about Pinterest was particular interesting on this note.) And ... and I may be stepping on some toes here ... those readers are being fed by an industry where more and more women agents hold the keys to the kingdom.
Are you a romance writer? Great. There is a strong market for that, with almost all of it driven by women. Do you write mainstream? Better have a good hook for women.
I ran into problems in trying to market my first novel. The main story line sounds dark and ominous, and I had to center on that in query letters. However, there is a great deal of romance in the book, and there are issues women care about (the impact of old family wounds, the impact of the loss of a child, etc.). But that dark and ominous tone within the confines of a query letter gets me kicked to the slush pile in a hurry.
I am learning that to find a spot in this industry you have to find a niche ... make yourself comfortable in a particular genre. I am doing that. Do I write novels that appeal to women? No. I am most comfortable in writing "guy stuff" ... thrillers, but ones in which my protagonist faces serious moral dilemmas. That's the niche I am aiming for ... that smaller market demographic of men who read and want "guy stuff," but "guy stuff" with a difference. It's the result of a lesson I have learned.
On the issue of writers deserving to be paid ... none of us are entitled. I just wish the industry didn't have such rigid walls about content needing to squeeze into a certain category. But the industry has a bottom line ... it has to sell, so it rests on those things it knows are likely to sell.