Posts Tagged Jane Austen

International Women’s Day 2016

Last week I took part in an event for International Women’s Day organised by Birmingham Adult Education Service . Sally Jenkins Author StandI was asked to speak about something to do with women and writing. Women are flourishing in the field of self-publishing so that’s the area I chose to focus on.

An early female ‘self-publisher’ was Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility was only taken by the London publisher Thomas Egerton on the condition that the Austen family made good any losses suffered by the book if it didn’t sell. In my mind that equates to self-publishing because the author was taking all the financial risk. This story removes much of the stigma attached to self-publishing – showing that even classic writers have done it.

Jump forward 200 years and books by indie women authors are outselling those by men. An article in the Guardian stated that in early 2015 67% of the top-ranking self-published books were by women, compare that to the Telegraph’s ‘Best Books of 2014’ list – 70% of those were by men.
This article in the Daily Mail showcases three women who’ve sold thousands of their books on Kindle. We all know that they are the exception but they provide inspiration to the rest of us and show that it is possible, with hard work and an understanding of the marketplace, to make it big.

Having (hopefully) enthused my audience with these facts, I went on to give them a whistle stop guide to self-publishing on Kindle, based on Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Afterwards a couple of ladies came and told me that they’d been inspired which was very gratifying.

Just in case I’ve inspired you too, my non-fiction e-books on writing are both only 99p/99c (UK & US only) until Sunday 20th March 2016. And men are allowed to make use of them too!

A Writer On Writing

Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

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Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been reading Pride and Prejudice in preparation for entering the Writers’ News subscribers only January 2013 competition – the brief is ‘a story based on any of the characters or events in that famous novel – but set firmly in the 21st century’.

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1...

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the first time I’ve read the book and it’s taken me some time to get into it. I suppose it’s the old-fashioned language and often long paragraphs used to get a point across. But now that I know the characters I’m quite engrossed – although I’ve no idea how I’m going to capture its essence in just 1,700 words of a contemporary story.

In Jane Austen’s world people seem to marry barely knowing each other, with background and financial position counting far more than the compatibility of the couple. They get little time alone together and the height of a woman’s ambitions (and those of her parents) is to make a good marriage. Equally, the less well-off males are looking for a bride of independent means to make up for their own financial shortcomings.

Of course, today relationships are conducted quite differently so I think I’ve got quite a brainstorming session to think up a modern-day equivalent story! There is a wealth of Pride and Prejudice fan fiction on the web such as here – so I’m going to have a trawl through and see how it’s done.

In case you’d missed it, 2013 is the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice – Austen held her first printed copy of the book on 29 January 1813.  Today Pride and Prejudice is The British Library’s ‘most adopted’ title, in a fund-raising campaign where supporters are encouraged to sponsor a book of their choice.

I wonder which of today’s books will still be popular in 2213? Any suggestions?

By the way if you know any young writers (or are one yourself), there are details of a Jane Austen writing competition here, open to school years 7 to 11.

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