#WomenToRead and Reviews

A quickie post to draw your attention to two cool things that happened yesterday, both discovered by me during what *should* have been a fifteen-minute tea break. One was the #womentoread meme on Twitter, started by Kari Sperring in response to the Strange Horizons analysis of SF book reviews in 2012, broken down by gender of author and gender of reviewer (the not-so-surprising conclusion: more books by men were submitted; more books by men were reviewed; more reviewers were men).

The analysis is interesting but hardly surprising, certainly not to anyone who’s been paying attention to the storm of controversy surrounding the Hugo and Clarke awards shortlists and the broader and deeper issues they illuminate about the challenges facing female writers of science fiction. For those who haven’t, the headlines are: it’s felt that it is generally harder for us to find an agent and/or publisher; that our books are less likely to be stocked by bookshops; and less likely to be reviewed, either by bloggers or more mainstream critics.

(I have to pause here for a moment to shout from the rooftops that MY AGENT AND PUBLISHER ARE EXCEPTIONS! Ian Drury represents a clutch of female authors who write SF, and Jo Fletcher Books has published not one, not two, but THREE science fiction novels by women so far this year: Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds in January, Naomi Foyle’s Seoul Survivors in February, and Gemsigns by yours truly in March. Gemsigns is being carried by most bricks-and-mortar retailers – and is being added by more – and all online retailers. And I’ve been getting a steady stream of reviews, long may they continue. That doesn’t mean the problems people are talking about don’t exist, of course; just that so far I personally have nothing about which to complain.)

The #womentoread hashtag unleashed a torrent of names, in which I was flattered to find myself included several times by several contributors. For an author who has, as of today, been published for all of a month it feels like a real validation. But more importantly, there are literally dozens and dozens of authors listed there – maybe hundreds by now – writing in all genres, from all over the world. They are the writers other writers turn to for inspiration, instruction and entertainment, and they are well worth checking out.

The second cool thing was another good review of Gemsigns, by Sophie Atherton for Starburst Magazine. Thank you Starburst and Sophie – both for the review itself, and for bucking the trends described above.

I should note that, as promised a couple of weeks ago, I have reorganised the menu structure of this site in order to put up a Reviews tab. I’ll post links to every review I’m aware of there (unless they contain unflagged spoilers, which I will NOT link to, no matter how good the review might otherwise be). And I do mean every review; so far they’ve all been really positive, and of course I hope that continues to be the case, but as I said in an earlier post I expect – and respect the right of – reviewers to not all like the same thing. So as long as reviews are decently written, not spoiler-y and not abusive, I’ll include them.

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  • Stephanie Saulter

    I love stories.
    My new novel, Sacred, is all about them. Publication info will be posted as soon as I have it. In the meantime check out Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, available wherever good books are sold.

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