What More Male Characters Means For Literature And What We Can Do About It

Recently a study conducted using AI technology uncovered a statistic that male identifying characters are four times more prevalent in fiction than female ones.

By searching for pronoun usage among a sample of 3000 books from across a range of genres, the study was able to identify a significant gender bias in favour of male characters.

The study couldn’t identify non-binary characters, but it did throw up some interesting insight into the language used around male or female identifying characters. Female characters were commonly described using terms such as ‘weak’, ‘amiable’, ‘pretty’ and even ‘stupid’. Male characters, were more commonly associated with terms such as ‘leadership’, ‘power’, ‘strength’ and ‘politics’.

While this might not be exact, and definitely requires further exploration, it’s certainly an interesting jumping-off point. It also shows what many women knew and have been saying all along- we need to make more of an effort to focus on improving diversity in literature.

As mentioned, this study isn’t exact, but it does go to show that there remains a lot of work to be done to make sure that more women and minority groups are represented, and represented properly, in literature.

One factor I think has a significant impact on the types of characters created in fiction is the types of authors writing it. Currently, while women and members of the LGBTQIA+, disabled and BAME communities are represented, usually this is a tactic to make publishers appear more diverse, and they aren’t often given the support and publicity they deserve. It’s why many of the longest standing writers, particularly in the crime fiction market, are straight white guys.

While there is slowly becoming more diversity, there are still limitations. It is true straight men are writing a lot of fiction, but the larger issue is that they’re also more likely to be the ones behind the scenes at publishing houses and book publicity agencies.

Luckily, diversity is slowly getting there, and we’re starting to see more books featuring a diverse range of characters from a broader selection of writers. Even as few as 10 years ago you wouldn’t have seen so many books featuring homosexual or non-white characters, particularly in the kid’s section.

Nowadays there is more diversity, but still not enough, particularly when it comes to actual authors. Representation matters, and it’s definitely great that we’re seeing more differently abled and diverse characters in books, but if they’re written predominantly by straight white men then they’re not going to resonate with the communities they’re supposed to represent.

Don’t get me wrong; plenty of straight white men make bloody good authors, but they’re taking opportunities from others in marginalised communities who have had to work twice as hard for half the success. So, we need more diverse writers and more people in the wider literary community to support diverse writers. We need publishing houses with more women and people from diverse backgrounds, so we can find the gems from these often overlooked communities and set them centre stage where they belong.

In the future, I think that publishers need to make more of an effort to support minority writers and give them the platform they deserve, and not just because they’re part of a different community. We need to normalise seeing pictures of a wide range of authors that don’t come in a specific section for LGBTQIA+ or BAME writers, but are just listed because their writing is awesome. We also need to make sure that more studies like this are done, so that we can continue to see what’s going on and how we can make a difference going forward.

Happy 6th Birthday To The Dorset Book Detective!

It’s crazy to think that it’s been 6 years since I launched the Dorset Book Detective! It’s been a mad few years, but I’m really proud of how far this blog has come.

I’ve been slowing up on posting lately because I’ve bought my own home and been going through a lot, but I’m going to keep on posting at least once a month, if not 2 or 3 times, for the foreseeable future.

So thanks ever so much to everyone who’s stayed with my blog and continues to read my ramblings. Also, a huge thank you to all the authors and book publishers who’ve helped me to find new books to review!

Here’s to many more years of great reads and fun suggestions! Thanks again for all the support!

Books I’m Excited For In 2022

Happy New Year Dorset Book Detective Readers! Hopefully things will get better this year, and we’ll all survive and thrive.

For me and my blog, it’s that time of year again! A New Year means exciting new book releases for us bookworms to drool over and get pumped for.

This year there are so many awesome new releases coming that I’m sure everyone, no matter what your tastes are, will find plenty to keep you entertained.

So, without further ado, here are some of the books I’m most looking forward to reading later in the year.

Good Rich People

This exciting new release from Eliza Jane Brazier looks like an exhilarating combination of crime fiction and social commentary. It tells the story of an unusual wealth couple who rent out the downstairs part of their luxury home to so-called ‘self-made’ success stories. Then the pair work with their wits to torment and torture their lodgers to get back at them for being interlopers into the world of wealth and privilege that they believe is rightfully theres. However, when a destitute young woman tricks her way into their home, the couple have to engage in an extraordinary game of cat and mouse that could have devastating consequences. This looks like a great read and I love a good book that questions social class and involves crime, so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

The Thursday Murder Club 3

While we don’t have many details about the new addition of Richard Osman’s addictive series, but we do know that it’s due to be released later next year, probably around the early Autumn. Following on from the success of The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, I’m looking forward to seeing what else is coming for the intrepid group of elderly sleuths who gather together to uncover the truth behind crimes in and around their luxury retirement community. Osman has gone from a popular quiz show host to a respected author, and his work stands alone away from the rest of is success. If you love Golden Age crime fiction, then this cosy series could be the perfect choice for you. If you haven’t already checked it out, then you’ve still got plenty of time before the third novel is released!

The Marlow Murder Club 2

Remarkably similar to Osman’s series, The Marlow Murder Club was created by Robert Thorogood, the writer behind the longstanding TV show Death In Paradise. The first book was a hit, so it’s no surprise that a second is due to be released later in 2022. Again, as the next book in this captivating series is set for later in the year, we don’t have much information about it right now, but if it’s anything like the first novel then it’ll be a kooky classic crime caper that’s not too violent and perfect for fans of cosy crime stories. Set in modern society, using a small village as its base and featuring a cast of older women, including a vicar’s wife, a dog walker and an elderly crossword setter as the sleuths, the first book had all the makings of the start of a great series, and I expect big things from this second instalment.

The Christie Affair

As a huge Agatha Christie fan who also loves historical mystery novels and weird conspiracy theories, I am extremely excited for Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair. Due to be published later this month, it tells the tale of Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 and presents her first husband’s ambitious mistress as somehow linked to still unsolved mystery. I love books that offer unique perspective on an often covered event, so I’m intrigued to see what theories de Gramont presents and how her new novel will give readers the chance to immerse themselves in the world of 1920s luxury and decadence. I’m confident that we’ll get a novel that’s both unique and comforting, which will be the perfect option for Christie fans and crime fiction lovers in general.

Run, Rose, Run

Something you might not know about me is that as well as loving crime fiction and thrillers, I’m also a huge Western and Country Music lover. That’s why I’m looking forward to the first crime fiction novel from Country legend Dolly Parton. In partnership with mystery writing aficionado James Patterson, she’s created a book about a young singer who’s on the run from a murky past. Now in Nashville, she’s singing about how she’s turned her life around and making a name for herself in the music business. But the past never stays buried for long, leaving her to confront her past and protect her future as a music star. I love Dolly Parton, and I think that her influence could help to make Patterson’s story less formulaic. Whatever happens, I’ll defiantly be checking out Dolly’s debut crime fiction novel! There’s also an album of original songs produced to go with the novel, making this the perfect choice for any Country lover and crime fiction fan.

Chronicles Of A Cairo Bookseller

It’s not crime fiction, but I think Nadia Wassef’s autobiographical tale of opening a bookshop in Cairo, a city with no other independent shops selling books, seems like an intriguing and important read. The book is funny and insightful, offering readers the chance to peer into the unique world of Egypt’s capital city and the perils and passions that collide in Wassef’s bookshop. The book features a unique cast of characters who are stranger than fiction, and showcase the beauty of bookstores and why independent shops like Diwan are so important and need to be protected at all costs. Wassef writes a funny and insightful book that I think will make a great read, and allow you to check out some non-fiction and learn new things.

Over the coming months there will doubtless be many more books announced, which means there’ll be even more incredible new books for us to check out. Happy reading and I hope the New Year is prosperous for all of my lovely followers!

The Dorset Book Detective’s 2021 Christmas Gift Guide

A bit later than usual, here’s this year’s guide on what to buy the book lover in your life this festive season!

Given that the virus that shall not be named is still running rampant and, for many of us, particularly those of us in the UK, our leaders aren’t doing very much about it, Christmas will probably be a very strange affair this year.

One of the challenges the virus has caused is getting gifts for people that require little to no contact and reduce their chances of spreading the virus.

That’s why this year I’ve put together a list of some cool, book-themed Christmas presents that involve limited contact or can be sent directly to your loved ones.

I’ve also tried to find creative ideas, so you can choose something that’s a little bit different and will bring a smile to someone’s face. Goodness knows we need something to smile about right now.

A Book Subscription Box

Subscription boxes might make you think of beauty products and foreign candies, but there’s now a subscription box for almost everything. You can even get cleaning products in subscription boxes now! That’s not much fun though, so consider getting a book subscription box instead. You can get ones that send you specific types of books, or ones that give you fiction by specific writers, such as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. That’s a great way to learn new things and read books by a wider variety of authors. Treat someone you love to a book subscription box this Christmas and you’ll give them a gift that keeps on giving and can be sent directly to their home.

Kindle Unlimited

If someone you know and love owns a Kindle, then you could think about paying for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. It’s a Kindle subscription that gives them unlimited access to all the eBooks available for eReaders, as well as podcasts, audiobooks and exclusive content that’s only available to subscribers. The subscription can be set-up and then they can use it on any Kindle or a smart device that uses the Kindle app. So, they can take an entire library with them everywhere they go. Make sure that the person you’re buying for likes reading digital books- for paper book lovers, this isn’t a great choice. Thankfully, there are plenty other options out there.

Candles That Smell Like Books

Candles are a great gift for anyone that likes making their home look, feel and smell cosy and comfortable. For the bookworm in your life, a candle that smells like books is the ideal choice. You can buy them online from a whole host of retailers, including online marketplaces like Etsy, so you can find a cute handmade option. They might not smell exactly like books, but many of them have a fresh, woody scent that evokes the memory of shopping in bookstores and unwrapping newly purchased books. Consider getting them a candle that smells like books in a glass jar, as these are often safer than

A Beautiful Book Journal

Recording your reading habits has become a popular hobby for many of us over recent years. While there are loads of apps out there to do it for you, but it can be fun to use a physical tool. If you’re looking for something a bit different, then you could consider a journal or wall hanging that actually offers suggestions for books to read in the future. However, if you want a classic gift, then you can find a stunning book journal. There are leather-bound options, ones with pretty patterns on them and more, so you can find one to suit the style of every book lover you know. Book journals are a stunning way to keep a record of every book they read, and by buying them a pretty one you can encourage them to make the most of it and feel proud to have it on their bookshelf.

A Hand Drawn Tattoo Design Based On A Beloved Book Series

If you know and love a bookworm who’s also passionate about body modification, then a drawing that can be used as the basis for a tattoo design, based on design from a book or fantasy series they love could be a perfect gift. It’s a personalised option that’s unique and from the heart. It’s also a great way to have some fun and unleash your creativity. Look at books in the series, and see if you can incorporate key motifs from the cover designs into your design. Your book loving friend or family member can then decide if they want to permanently ink your design on their skin, or simply frame it and display it in their home.

I’ll be taking a brief break over Christmas to relax and recuperate from the festive rush, but the Dorset Book Detective will be back and thriving in 2022. So have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’m excited to share more updates in 2022 and hopefully things will get better next year.

Why I Love Listening To Audiobooks While I Work

During the pandemic, many of us who used to work in offices were forced to work from home, which bought many challenges and changes.

One of the main changes that has occurred has been our ability to listen to our own music or podcasts while we work. It’s actually one of the few benefits of working from home. While I definitely feel isolated and find it hard to find a good work/ life balance, I do like the fact that I can listen to what I like.

After all, when you’re in an office, you have to listen to something that everyone likes, which means that many of us often end up with the radio or a playlist of generic pop music. No one wants to say anything or put their headphones in, and given the focus on collaborative work and the need to answer the phone, that’s often impossible.

At home, if you get to work alone then you can listen to your own sounds. Even if you share a workspace with a housemate or partner, then you can at least wear headphones. Or you could just turn the sound down- I live in a shared house and literally no one complains about the sound of my audiobooks coming out of the tiny speakers on my phone.

While I don’t think for a second that listening to audiobooks is the same as reading a physical novel, it is a useful way to enjoy literature while I’m doing other tasks. I’d also recommend checking out podcasts themed around literature, like Potterless, a brilliant show about an adult man who’s never read the Harry Potter book series. While I still don’t support J.K Rowling and her blatant transphobia, I do love listening to the hilarious ramblings of an American who’s experiencing the books for the first time.

There are also storytelling podcasts such as This American Life, which combines journalism with storytelling to provide a unique take on current events and real life in America. It’s another great way to learn more about the world and see it from a new perspective.

I used to think listening to audiobooks and other audio shows would be distracting, especially in my job as a writer. I always used to believe that, eventually, I’d start typing the words I was hearing. However, I’ve learned since I started listening to audiobooks online at work, that they actually help me to concentrate and manage my workload. Often, I bribe myself by telling myself I need to get something finished before the end of the next chapter or I’ll switch the story off! It’s a useful technique, particularly if you happen to have the mind of a hyperactive toddler.

All this doesn’t mean I no longer read books. I always thought it would, but, in fact, I’ve found that audiobooks and physical books help me to separate my work life from my home one. During work, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, which I find more soothing than music. After work, while I’m out and about or just before bed, I read my physical novels.

As I say, audiobooks and literary-themed podcasts are soothing to me while I’m working, but only certain ones. I think a John Grisham or an Andy McNab audiobook might be a bit too intense for a working day, whereas an Agatha Christie or a Ngaio Marsh story is relaxing. It sometimes helps if I’ve already read the book and know the plot, particularly if I’m having a busy or stressful day, or I’m feeling particularly anxious.

In all, while I still love reading physical books, I’m enjoying listening to stories and podcasts and I think others might too. It probably sounds really obvious, and not worthy of a blog post, but I think it’s relevant, particularly for anyone who’s still working from home and feeling isolated. I know from experiencing working with my team that many remote workers are struggling right now, and even with connected technology, it’s easy to feel alone. That’s especially true if you live alone or the people you live with are out of the house all day. With audiobooks and podcasts, you can hear a person’s voice and become immersed in a story while keeping busy at the same time.

Could Rise In Sale Of Advanced Reading Copies Change The Literature Market?

When I recently saw reports that advanced copies of books by famed writers, including Sally Rooney, have been selling online for high prices before the novel is release.

Advanced copies are what bloggers and book reviewers like me receive so that we can write reviews that come out before or at the same time as a book is released.

When you receive an advance copy, you’ll usually see a notice on the outside, and often on the inside too, which states that the advanced copy is not for sale and only for reviewing purposes. However, many disreputable bloggers are now selling their advanced copies for big bucks and publishers are pretty powerless to stop them.

In the past, it’s been overlooked if advanced copies get given to charity shops long after the book is released. That’s because it’s hard to police and, frankly, it isn’t making reviewers any profits. It’s simply a way for book reviewers to declutter their lives long after the review is published. However, actually making money from advanced copies has always been a no-no, and frankly, I’d not heard of many cases of it happening in the past.

Now, it’s clear that the issue is getting worse. Bloggers are profiting from advanced copies and giving decent, genuine book reviewers a bad name. With the rise of online blogging and social media influencers, even more book publishers and promoters are facing problems as they are having to give out more advanced copies to entice reviewers. As more advanced copies, either electronic or physical, are offered to bloggers, there becomes a great risk that some of them will be distributed for profit prior to the release of the novel.

Frankly, I think it’s utterly disgusting that some book bloggers are trying to profit from advanced copies of books, to the detriment of authors. Writers were already hard hit, both by the COVID-19 pandemic and other industry changes. They need the support of book bloggers and reviewers, rather than the theft of their intellectual property for profit.

As a book reviewer myself, I work hard to provide constructive reviews for the benefit of authors, as well as my readers. So, I think it’s dreadful to use advanced copies for anything other than to read and review. While it does make me happy to get a copy of books, particularly ones I’m excited for, ahead of time, I think it’s definitely a privilege that needs to be respected. Bloggers who sell advanced copies are giving the industry a bad name and are, for the most part, in the minority.

Looking to the future, I think that this mass selling of advanced copies of books by influential writers will lead to publishers changing the way they distribute books to bloggers. I think that it’ll become more common for advanced copies to be sent electronically, which is already the case, but more convenience than for tracking purposes.

Moving forward, I think that book publishers and promoters will start tracking advance copies and where they end up. I also believe that they will start to be more discerning about who they give advanced copies to. That might mean a change for online bloggers, who might have to prove their metal before they receive advanced copies. All these developments will take time, but they could make the book reviewing and promoting markets better in the long run.

So, at the end of the day, I think that this development in the literary market could help to make the book reviewing space better going forward. It’s a real shame that some greedy individuals are trying to profit from advanced copies, but in the future, hopefully, it’ll be easier for genuine book reviewers to get hold of them and support authors and their readers.

Back To Bookstores: How To Browse Without Being A Bellend

The world is slowly reopening after COVID-19, which means, among many other fun things, that we can all finally return to our favourite stores.

Many people love browsing through clothing stores or looking at shoes, while I, and many others, love browsing through book stores.

Book stores are great to visit, but I’ve noticed, as I return to them, that some people don’t have any manners or, apparently, social skills.

Things have been open for a while here in the UK, but I know that every country is different. What isn’t different, is that you need to be looking out for others while you’re shopping for books.

Buying books in a store is a valuable way to help local businesses in your community that have struggled since the pandemic began. It’s also a fun and soothing activity that is great for book lovers, but you have to do it right without behaving like an absolute arse.

So, what I’m trying to say is, whether you love second-hand bookshops like me, or you’re a fan of big chains and buying new books, don’t be a douche. If you need to know how, here are some tips.

Wear A Mask If You Can

The mask laws might have been rescinded in many countries, but where possible you should keep wearing one in crowded places. It’ll mean that if you do have anything, then you’ll reduce the chance of it spreading to others who share your space. It’ll also mean that you’ll reduce the number of pathogens that you could potentially transfer to surfaces that you breathe on. Many people might think that wearing a mask now is pointless, but it’s a kind thing to do. Also, during the time when masks were a legal requirement, you probably bought some reusable ones. You can’t use them for anything else, so you might as well wear them!

Sanitise Your Hands Before You Start Touching Stuff

Most shops have sanitiser at the entryway, so you can easily clean your hands before you start browsing. If you’re visiting a small bookshop that doesn’t have sanitiser for customers, then you should use your own sanitiser before you start touching books. Hand sanitisers aren’t an alternative to washing your hands, particularly after you’ve eaten, touched animals or used the bathroom. However, in between visiting different shops and touching surfaces like door handles, it can be a useful way to make sure that your hands are clean and reduce your chances of transferring bacteria from different areas.

Give Staff And Other Shoppers Some Space

Like the mask laws, social distancing rules have also been relaxed in many areas. Still, it’s kind to give other people their space. Some people might not be feeling very safe right now, and others might still be adjusting to being in close contact with others after the pandemic. So, don’t go getting up in strangers’ grills. If the bookshop that you’re visiting is small, then you might have to wait to get to a bookshelf or to move around the store. Be patient and remember that everyone is struggling right now, so your kindness could make a massive difference to someone. If you need to ask the staff for help, then be polite and respectful (as you should always be). Don’t crowd them and if the staff member asks you to wait behind a screen or stand back, just do it.

Only Pick Up Books You’re Genuinely Interested In Or Considering Buying

In bookshops, it’s fun to pick up books and read the blurb. However, if you’re not interested in buying it or learning more about it, then you shouldn’t pick it up. If you can read the blurb on the back without lifting the book, for example if it’s placed backwards on the shelf, then you should try to read the back without touching it. If you decide that you’d like to purchase the book, then you can pick up one copy to take to the counter. If the store has one of those mobile zapper things to scan the barcode with, then hold the book out for the cashier to scan, so they don’t have to touch it. If the bookseller has to type in a code, then try reading it out for them, again, so they don’t have to touch the book. It’s a simple kindness but it could go a long way. If the person serving you is willing to touch the book, then fair play to them, but remember that everyone is different and try to help where you’re able to do so.

Buy A Gift Voucher If You Don’t Want A Book

Book sales have risen during the pandemic, but many bookstores, particularly small independent ones, have still found the pandemic tough. So, it’s more important now than ever before that you support these stores if you want them to stay open so you can keep visiting them. If you don’t want to by a book during your visit, then you could consider buying a gift card to support the store. You could give the gift card as a present for someone you love, or you could just keep them for yourself to use at a later date. Buying a gift card means that the store has some extra money now, at a time when things are precarious.

Be Nice

It sounds super obvious, but just try your best to be kind as much as you can. If you think someone else is being overly cautious, or doing something that you don’t agree with, just leave it and don’t force your opinion on others. Everyone has their own way of coping with this crisis, so as long as it’s not harming you, try to accept others as much as possible. The main message of this blog post is that everyone has a different way of coping with the pandemic, and you should do your best to be mindful of that. If you do, then the chances are that more people will also be respectful of your own boundaries and you’ll find book shopping more enjoyable.

Most Men Don’t Read Books By Women: No Shit Sherlock

Author MA Sieghart recently made the point that disturbingly few men read books written by women.

She even made a point of using the byline ‘MA’, rather than her first name, Mary Ann, because she wants men to read the piece.

For men, I’m sure that this is a shocking truth, but for any woman it should come as no surprise that men don’t read books written by women.

Despite the fact that, supposedly, our right to vote and have our own bank accounts means, for many men at least, that we don’t need feminism anymore, it’s still true that every woman you know has experienced sexism and harassment, and that we’ve been told at least once that our opinions aren’t worth a damn because we’re women.

That’s why I try not to use my real name on the blog too much- I know that many men (and some other women) feel intimidated by women with opinions.

It’s a scary fact, but as MA Sieghart highlights, the lack of female authors in most modern men’s reading lists is the reason why many men still treat women like trash. They still honk at us, demand that we stop feeling whatever we’re feeling to smile for them, sexually harass us and generally treat us as lesser than mediocre men.

As the author of this fascinating opinion piece highlights, the data shows that while women are willing to read books written by men, the same cannot be said for the reserve.

That means that many men don’t hear stories of what it’s like to be a woman written by women. Diversity is key for any well-rounded personal education and self-improvement,

It also means that men are more likely to perpetrate violence against women if they don’t view us as intelligent, thinking individuals worthy of their time and empathy. You might recently have seen the ‘If England gets beaten, then so does she’ campaign from charities discussing the potential rise in violence against women if England’s team didn’t win in the recent European Cup prior to our loss.

After that, there were many instances of threats and online hate towards both women and ethnic minorities.

Seems scary, but women face a lot of violence and injustice at the hand of men, even to this very day, and one way to reduce this is to encourage men to read more books by female authors.

For that matter, men also need to read books by authors from a wide range of backgrounds. Whether it’s individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community, differently abled individuals or writers from different races and countries, those who aren’t white, able bodied heterosexual men often struggle to get their stories heard.

Boosting diversity starts at the beginning, which is why we need to improve diversity in school reading lists. We need more books in schools by a wide range of different writers.

It also means teaching kids, particularly boys, that reading the stories and ideas of those who are different to them, particularly women and members of the BAME community, is vital. It’s also fun and can broaden your horizons. Make kids read a variety of books; don’t just give them books that feature the odd black or female character, but are written by white men, like Of Mice And Men, To Kill A Mocking Bird or Disgrace.

Instead, I think that more kids should be reading books by strong women with important stories to tell, like Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay, Margret Atwood, Alice Walker and others. Reading these important stories will help kids to see a diverse range of people actually write about themselves, rather than having to read their stories second hand from the pens of white, male authors.

Improving diversity in reading means that we also have to work hard to improve diversity in writing. I’ve already lamented on the lack of female writers in many genres, including spy fiction, which desperately needs more women writers. Some of the deplorable depictions I’ve seen of female characters in some spy books and thrillers written by men is enough to make you cringe. I’ve seen women president characters that only do as they’re told by men through to women who open their blouses to flirt. Anyone who’s ever even spent time with women should realise that these scenarios are utterly ridiculous, but somehow grown male writers don’t, and these books actually manage to make it past editors, proofreaders and major international publishers and make it into print.

That’s why publishers and the literary community as a whole needs to make a greater push towards even more diversity. We need writers from different backgrounds to be able to publish their stories and make their voices heard. If more women and members of marginalised communities can get their work published, then they’ll be able to slowly help push aside the myriad of male stories trying, and failing, to portray the struggles that women and those from other communities face.

Also, the simple fact is that people can’t read more fiction written by women if it isn’t published and made widely available. As someone who does lots of interviews with writers, one thing I’ve learned is that many women struggle to get their work published. While men do too, women writers, particularly talented ones writing about feminism and the struggles they face in their everyday lives, are often the worst hit. That needs to change if we want to make meaningful strides towards more diversity in the reading lists of everyone, but particularly those who need it the most; those with the privilege. As a white woman and member of the LGBTQIA+ community I’m constantly aware of the deficiencies in my reading, and work to read as widely as possible, but if men aren’t doing the same then nothing’s going to change. I’m not saying I’m perfect, far from it, but I always try my best to improve and broaden my mind.

At the end of the day, I think that the lack of diversity in men’s reading habits seriously limits our society, and is central to the issues that women and members of the LGBTQIA+ and BAME communities face. Men who want to be our allies can do so by reading books by those from marginalised communities. By buying and reading these books you’ll improve your own perception of the world, broaden your horizons and also help to fund unique writers. You’ll be voting with your money and showing publishers that these authors deserve more publicity and support. This blog is a place for a diverse range of writers, so if you have any suggestions, or are a BAME, female or LGBTQIA+ writer yourself and want some promotion and support, then I’m here for you.

Why Authors Should Get Royalties On Second-Hand Copies

When buying books, it’s easy to think that you’re supporting your favourite author, but that’s not always the case. When you buy books second hand, you’re only helping the seller, even if it is your local independent second-hand bookstore or a charity shop.

Authors don’t currently receive a share in the money made from second hand copies of their work, which means that the only way to truly help the writers you love is buy their books brand new. Even then, it’s not that simple- the books sold in supermarkets and in discount stores, although new, are cheap for a reason: writers don’t make as much on them.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy your books second hand, it just means that the system needs to change. Buying books second-hand is a great way to save the environment, as new books won’t be made and then languish on people’s bookshelves, unread and uncared about. 

Thankfully, things are slowly starting to change. To help struggling authors who work hard on their art, a collective of booksellers have set up a royalty scheme to compensate authors whenever their books are purchased through their sites.

The scheme is in its early stages, with a yearly maximum amount of royalties set and a limited number of retailers currently signed up to the project. However, it’s still a step in the right direction.

Acting as a fund, the scheme will pay authors from the kitty. It’s already being touted as a game changer by many organisations in the bookselling and writing community.

It would be great to see, in the future, booksellers making an effort to provide a section of the profits to authors, particularly those who are independent writers or who have fewer alternative sources of revenue, such as TV or film right options. It might be that they could do it for writers whose works are popular on the site- so instead of paying per book, these second hand booksellers, be they shops or websites, simply pay an annual fee to popular writers for the right to stock used copies of their back catalogue.

I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out- it’s safe to say that I have nothing in my life all worked out, least of all this! However, I think that the industry needs to make sweeping changes to account for the ever-increasing trade in used copies of printed books. Some sellers even make a lot of money out of particularly difficult to find titles, but not a penny of that currently goes to the book’s writers or their estates.

A change in the system needs to be made, and while this new fund is a great start, more is required. I’m neither a bookseller nor an author- although one day I will finish my novel! I’m simply a book lover and voracious reader who thinks that, in order to get new writers to focus on their writing and have the time to dedicate to creating amazing new works of fiction, we need to pay them properly. It’s the same as in every industry; we’re seeing it currently in hospitality, where an industry that previously undervalued and mistreated its workers is having to raise wages and think long and hard about how it treats them in order to survive. The same will eventually happen in literature, as good authors stop writing full-time because they simply can’t pay their bills. When this happens, the industry will be forced to change, so it’s better that it evolves now before the change becomes inevitable.

By supporting writers and giving them some of the royalties on their books, particularly valuable first editions or uncommon books that are out of print but still sought-after by readers, booksellers could help keep the writing industry thriving and improve diversity.

After all, there’s constantly a push for greater diversity in the writing world. But, when push comes to shove, the biggest barrier is always going to be a lack of funding. Many individuals simply don’t have the time to dedicate to unpaid work that doesn’t give them any security. Others don’t have the option to choose expensive self-publishing methods or pricey book publicity agents to arrange blog tours and book signings on their behalf.

With greater earning potential comes a greater chance that a more diverse range of voices will be heard in the writing community, particularly in the fiction market. I’ve already mentioned the need to increase diversity in school reading lists, but this simply isn’t possible or sustainable if every talented novelist isn’t able to get their voices heard. That means that we need to make fiction writing a viable career, and for many, that’s simply not the case right now.

At the same time, we also need to acknowledge that second hand books are an important part of the literary market. Not every book buyer can afford to pay the initial release price for a book. Also, they might enjoy the process of browsing for used books, which have character. I personally love my copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which I bought at a charity shop and contains some amazing annotations from its previous owner.

Second hand books are also better for the environment, as they mean that books that were previously sat on shelves, unused, can go to a new home. Buying used books reduces the amount of waste in the publishing industry. New books are great, but they take a lot of energy and raw materials to produce, which means that buying used copies saves resources.

Therefore, the publishing industry needs to embrace new ways to benefit both the second hand book market and authors. This new scheme is an exciting step in the right direction, but more needs to be done in the future.

Overall, I think that this scheme is an amazing idea that, if developed properly, has the potential to become a game changer for the writing industry. Hopefully it will be picked up by more book retailers over the coming months and will evolve into a practice that remains in place throughout the coming years and changes the bookselling market for the better.