In the year when Sisters in Crime celebrated its 25th anniversary, one of its original projects – monitoring the percentage of women mystery writers having their books reviewed in the mainstream media – saw some progress, particularly in local newspapers and in prepublication reviews. A sample of book review blogs were monitored for the first time, finding that women writers were the authors of 51% of around 700 books reviewed on seven blogs.
Among mysteries reviewed in national newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reviewed the smallest percentage of books by women: only 15 percent of the 40 mysteries reviewed were by women. That is the same percentage of women whose mysteries were reviewed in the New York Times Book Review 25 years ago, when the Monitoring Project began. By 2011, the Times had more than doubled that percentage. Just over a third of the mysteries reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Toronto Globe and Mail were by women writers (34%, 36%, and 39% respectively). Among genre review publications, the percentage of mysteries reviewed by women ranged from 38 percent in Deadly Pleasures to 69 percent in RT Reviews. Prepublication review sources, important to booksellers and librarians, saw a jump in the percentage of reviewed mysteries written by women, devoting 49 percent of mystery reviews to books by women. As in the past, Booklist reviewed the smallest percentage of mysteries by women (41%) and Library Journal the largest (58%), with Kirkus close behind (52%).
For the first time, the Monitoring Project began to examine born-digital review sources, aggregating the reviews in seven U.S. based book blogs that primarily review mysteries. Of 710 authors whose mysteries reviewed on the seven blogs in 2011, 51% were women authors. In 2012, the project will expend digital coverage to include born digital multi-author review sites such as Reviewing the Evidence and I Love a Mystery Newsletter.
Though there is no figure available of the percentage of all mysteries published broken down by sex of the author, 54 percent of adult fiction submitted for Edgar award consideration were written by women. While male authors dominated submissions for the category for best mystery, female authors dominated submissions for best paperback original.