Writing Fiction as Women's Work

Publication year

Since there isn't an abstract, here are the opening two paragraphs:

How do women writers who write popular fiction for and about women adapt to the realities of the corporate publishing world? I am concerned about where and for whom women writers of romances publish and how they define their own work, their political orientation, and their artistic values, and less about what kind of romance novels they write - short stories, domestic novels, gothics, or erotic historical novels.
The only information available about these writers comes from an occasional article published in the mass media, or from articles by writers themselves in magazines such as Writer's Digest. As far as I can tell, aside from just one article published earlier (Cantor & Jones, 1983), no one has systematically investigated the writers of contemporary, popular women's fiction. (92)

Here are some details about Cantor's methodology:

Because it is difficult if not impossible to define the total universe of free-lance writers, I limited my inquiries to those who published one short story (including a confession/romance) or longer fiction. Through surveys and interviews, I identified approximately 58 writers from a total of 90 respondents whom I consider professional writers of women's fiction. The writers studied were found to vary in their orientation and relationship to their craft, as well as to hold different values about art, literature, and society. However, they shared common characteristics as well. (98)


As individuals many, especially the literary, the academics, and some romance writers are committed to feminist values, using networks of support to evaluate their work and learn about the publishing world. [...] For them, writing has another function, allowing women as individuals within an accepting professional framework to tell the "world" about the most personal and intimate details of life. Writers for all media (television, movies, and print fiction) seem to want to give advice, to present lessons in living for their audiences. [...] Few recognize that in adopting the standards and professional values of editors, teachers, and publishers, they may well place craft consciousness above feminist consciousness. (103)


we can conclude that writers of women's fiction are culture bearers. We might also conclude that the contradictions inherent in their objective condition are obvious: women may write fiction that is psychologically liberating but socially regressive. Moreover, under present market conditions most women are unable to earn their livelihood through their craft. (103-104)