Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

#Women_Writers: online squad of female authors vow to fight sexism in publishing

women writers.jpg

The publishing world has always shown a bias against women authors.

In the 19th century, literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë  published their first works under the names of Curren, Ellis, and Acton Bell, in a desire to be “taken seriously”. George Eliot was, in fact, the male pseudonym of the talented Mary Ann Evans.

Even Joanne Rowling was told by her publisher that the Harry Potter series wouldn’t be as popular among boys if it became known that it was written by a woman, so she adopted a set of ambiguous initials – J. K. Rowling – for the cover.



Nowadays, the playing field is beginning to even out, and, yes, there are now literary prizes specifically aimed at women authors, but change is still slow to bloom.

Laurie Garrison, the editor of Looking For Xanadu (a blog and course-finder for women writers), tells The Guardian that “there ‘seem[s] to be a gaping hole, when there is such an abundance of women attendees of writing and literature courses, in writers’ groups and at literary festivals.”

Her comments, which are supported by research that shows women remain under-represented both as book reviewers and as reviewed authors, paint a worrying picture; if successful women authors are struggling to make a name for themselves, how on earth are fledgling female writers supposed to break into the sexist world of publishing?

Woman reading a book

“We need dedicated spaces for women writers to improve their technique in a non-competitive environment"

In a bid to provide a safe space online for budding authors to talk about their literary dreams, passions, careers, and frustrations, Garrison has spearheaded a new campaign under the hashtag #women_writers.

Using the inclusive hashtag as a launchpad, she has organised monthly chats on Twitter, which actively discuss everything from self-publication, to DIY methods on online marketing, to the sexist online culture that surrounds reading and writing.

The hashtag has also evolved into a wider conversation, allowing women writers to meet around the virtual water-cooler and recommend books and authors, build their skills in a non-competitive environment, and critique and gain feedback on their own projects.



 “We need dedicated spaces for women writers to improve their technique in a non-competitive environment, learn resilience to deal with all the rejection and criticism involved in professional writing and to be able to show vulnerability without being judged,” explains Garrison.

“If we can create spaces for women writers where these things can be discussed and put into perspective, I think it could go a long way toward levelling the playing field.”

Inspired by the success of #women_writers, Garrison has also created a manifesto entitled Women Writers in the Twenty First Century: How We Can make Online Learning, Marketing, and Publishing Work For Us.

Available for 99p on Amazon.co.uk, it aims to “take a hard look at the traditional publishing world’s bias against women writers”, and help readers “have more influence over the publication and promotion of their work”.

This, she explains, can be achieved if they learn how to "use the online world to complete, publish and promote books.

 “Online teaching and training can be tailored to suit the needs of women writers; online marketing techniques naturally lend themselves to developing specialist communities of women writers; and a variety of new publishing options provide alternatives to traditional publishing.”

If you would like to find out more details on the next scheduled #women_writers talk on Twitter, which is due to kick off at 5pm on 24 August, visit Laurie Garrison’s feed now. 

Related

Opener_rt.jpg

How to write a short story: our essential guide to getting published

iStock_45453806_LARGE.jpg

Bite-size novels that were made for your commute

iStock_74226529_MEDIUM.jpg

The best Gallic literature for your reading group

podcast.jpg

The top 10 inspirational quotes from literature read by celebrities

iStock_94919831_LARGE.jpg

Blag the classics: the best modern makeovers of literary staples

winnie-the-pooh.jpg

Winnie the Pooh is Britain's favourite children's book character

rexfeatures_5689844fi.jpg

Kirsten Dunst to direct film adaptation of The Bell Jar

staircase 2.jpg

One book lover has turned her staircase into an homage to literature

cynthia nixon emily dickinson quiet passion film trailer.jpg

A Quiet Passion: Cynthia Nixon embodies Emily Dickinson in new biopic

More

“Why I opted out of reconstruction after my double mastectomy”

Breast cancer survivor Jeanne Paul says many don’t understand her choice

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

Carpool Karaoke gets a Game of Thrones makeover

The Starks are in town

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

How the solar eclipse could completely transform your life

An astrologer tells us how to tap into the ‘magical powers’ of tonight’s eclipse

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

Lidl is selling £3.33 bottles of prosecco – but there’s a catch

Bring on the bubbles

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Singer stops concert to expertly shame man for sexual assault

“It is not your f**king body and you do not f**king grab at someone!”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Aug 2017

Why that Game of Thrones infertility storyline is so very important

This article contains spoilers, obviously

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

“I’m child-free, not childless – why the difference matters”

One writer on how our language shames women who choose not to procreate

21 Aug 2017

High school boys support female students against sexist dress code

And this is how it’s done

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Why people are posting cat photos in response to the Barcelona attacks

There’s a reason behind the influx of felines online

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017