According to a handful of studies, women are just about equally likely to buy a book by either sex, while men are more likely to buy books by men. So more than 150 years after the Bronte sisters published as the Bell brothers, authors are still using gender-neutral initials and male pseudonyms “when the main characters are male or when it’s a genre with a strong appeal to men,” according to editor Anne Sowards. Authors Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey recently adopted the name Magnus Flyte for their fantasy novel City of Dark Magic, so as not to risk alienating a single male reader. “Why would we want to exclude anyone?” Lynch asked. We would say, “Because if he doesn’t like you the way you are (female), screw him,” but there’s money on the line.
Writers posing as men, such as James Tiptree Jr. and, of course, J.K. Rowling, are allowed to come out as women once the audience has accepted them, according to John Scalzi, the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.