Writing to Men

In Christian publishing, since most readers are women, Christian books for men are treated as a niche market. Women are the primary market worthy of the most focus, and men are an afterthought if they are thought of at all.

Publishing is a business and it doesn’t make sense to publish foolishly. Some publishers don’t publish books where the only market is a man.

As a result, many authors write for everyone, both men and women…or at least they think they are.

Other than pastoral leadership books, some authors are writing exclusively to men on themes of spiritual growth and living, but for the most part, of the thousands of Christian books published every year in the US, relatively few create much of a wave with men. You can start listing names and hit a wall at about a dozen.

Could it be that men would read more if books were written with them in mind?

Since most readers of this blog and most Christian book readers are women (maybe more than 75%), it seems like a futile pursuit to write books for men, but maybe a little different thinking about the issue could help.

What qualifications do I have to write on this subject today?

Publishing experience? No, lots of people have that.

Literary agent experience? Heavens no.

I am one? Yes, that’s it.

After careful analysis, decades of random freelance anecdotal research and observation, 35+ years of marriage, watching sons, daughters, spouses, friends, colleagues and more, I’ve come to the conclusion:

Men and women are different.

Duh, yup.

No, really. It’s true.

So, when I see a book described as good for both men and women, I wonder if it is truly the case or they are just trying to be nice and mention men so we don’t feel left out.

After all, this is the age of being offended at everything.

At church, I attend either mixed-gender events or men’s groups. The events for both men and women are intentionally general enough so everyone feels connected and appreciated.

I don’t know what goes on in the women’s Bible studies. Haven’t been invited to any. I assume there is a lot of sharing of feelings and deep discussion about all sorts of things. Maybe you solve problems or address issues by immersing oneself in Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you. That’s the right thing to do.

I can’t be certain since I am not there.

But let me tell you what goes on in the typical men’s group.

  • We are generally understanding of others, but move quickly to solutions for problems. We are not satisfied simply to be understood.
  • We study men like David who messed up repeatedly, but still ended up a man after God’s own heart.
  • We consider what it’s like to be Joseph in the Old Testament, but also Joseph in the New Testament who was seemingly little more than an afterthought in the story of Jesus. Some men feel that way about themselves today.
  • We study Nehemiah’s work and feel like we could never measure up to his strength of character.
  • We are stunned by Abraham’s lack of faith at times and his incredibly strong faith at the end of his life. It’s a lot like us.
  • We see ourselves in the apostle Peter who was all over the map in his emotions and actions and then after the resurrection was the rock on which the church was built. Can Christ make me that bold?
  • We talk about the daily spiritual warfare of living in a sexualized world.
  • We encourage a brother whose wife left him.
  • We challenge a brother who immersed in some sin, thinking it harmless.
  • Addictions might have destroyed a past, but can be used as motivation for the present and future.
  • We use warfare metaphors a lot. And sports.
  • We worry people will discover we are frauds in our work.
  • We confront some issues with spiritual insight and then move quickly to, “Gosh, you need to stop doing that. Don’t be an idiot.” (Can’t imagine this technique working in the women’s group)
  • Some (all?) problems are solved by shutting up, stop going there and forgetting about it. Forgive and move on. Get over it. Let it go man.
  • Some situations require courage on our part. No deep spiritual thinking, just a deep breath, a set jaw and a steadfast heart anchored in the bedrock of God’s faithfulness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. (The ex-athletes in the group don’t really get into the emotional junk.)
  • We pray that we would be strong witnesses for Christ and not just in our words.

I know both men and women are encouraged when we discover we are not the only ones experiencing what we are going through. It’s probably the unifying element to all this.

But men add the need to be strong, courageous, steadfast, unyielding to evil, discerning and wise in our choices. Personal accountability is a key element. Make a game plan and get to work.

Not all men are alike, but in general if you want to reach men you write differently.

Writing to both genders is okay. Like a sermon in a church service there is a place for it. But I think you lose some of the effect when you try to reach both men and women with every message.

So pick a gender-target (preferably the same one you are) and write.

I guess I just challenged Christian men to write to men and Christian publishers to publish for men.

OK then.


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