In 2013 Australian women writers received a large increase in online reviews. The number of reviews entered in the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge increased by nearly twenty percent compared to 2012.

In its second year the Challenge demonstrates that the groundswell of enthusiasm for books written by Australian women is increasing. This is a trend that traditional literary publications need to adjust to. Readers expect to see as many reviews of books by women as they do of men. All genders are equally capable of quality writing. All genders write about a wide variety of interesting topics.

In 2013 over 1,800 reviews were written about books written by Australian women writers. Nearly forty percent of the books reviewed were published in 2013. The most popular books were:

Title Author Publisher No. Reviews
1 Burial Rites Hannah Kent Picador 21
2 Fractured Dawn Barker Hachette 14
3 Dark Horse Honey Brown Penguin 12
4 The Railwayman’s Wife Ashley Hay Allen & Unwin 11
4 The Girl in the Hard Hat Loretta Hill Random House 11
5 Web of Deceit Katherine Howell Pan Macmillan 10
5 The Wild Girl Kate Forsyth Random House 10
5 The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Pan Macmillan 10
5 Half Moon Bay Helene Young Penguin 10

Most reviewed books for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge in 2013.

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Over seven hundred authors had their work reviewed by Challenge participants.

Yes, there are over seven hundred Australian women authors. The number would be even greater as we recognise that despite the volume of books that were reviewed, there were still some authors who published in 2013 but missed out on reviews in the Challenge.

The most popular authors were:

Author Name No. Reviews
1 KENT, Hannah 21
Most Popular Authors, Australian Women Writers’ Challenge, 2013.
2 JOHNS, Rachael 18
3 HILL, Loretta 17
3 BROWN, Honey 17
4 OVERINGTON, Caroline 16
5 HOWELL, Katherine 15

A feature of the Challenge is the fact that anyone can participate. There are no educational or work experience requirements. Reviewers don’t have to live in Australia. No-one ‘vets’ the reviews before they are linked. This may be a reviewer’s first experience of writing for the public.

The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge is a grass-roots positive action by people from all walks of life. The one thing in common is all reviewers believe that the books they read which are written by Australian women are worthy of a review. The time and effort the reviewers put into writing the reviews is an unspoken comment on their views about the writing of women authors.

Over two hundred reviewers wrote at least one review for the Challenge in 2013. Some of the Challenge reviewers were prolific:

Reviewer No. Reviews
1 Brenda 121
Top 10 Challenge Reviewers 2013
2 Bree 110
3 Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out 100
4 Lauren @ The Australian Bookshelf 72
5 Tsana 42
6 Sally From Oz 40
7 writereaderly 37
8 Shannon (Giraffe Days) 34
8 Jess @ The Never Ending Bookshelf 34
8 Mel @ Adventures of a Subversive Reader 34
8 Helen 34

There is still considerable work to be done to change the attitudes of major, traditional book reviewing publications. Both the international and Australian statistics for 2012 still showed too many of these publications prioritise reviewing the writing of men over the writing of women.

Our statistics reveal that only seventeen men wrote a review for the Challenge in 2013. Women’s writing is for everyone just as men’s writing is for everyone. The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge is keen for more men to participate.

Renewed impetus for the campaign to change attitudes has emerged from the United Kingdom since the New Year. Writer and illustrator, Joanna Walsh, has started a Twitter hashtag, #readwomen2014. It has quickly become a vibrant conversation with many people committing to reading more books written by women. American literary magazine, The Critical Flame, has committed to a whole year of reviewing the work of women writers and writers of colour.

The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge is part of the growing world-wide movement to raise awareness of excellent writing by women. It helps readers to challenge the subconscious stereotypes that govern our choice of books to read. We are excited to be entering our third year and hope that we can help you do something about this issue.

Participation in the Challenge is better than whingeing. It is better than waiting for old, traditional publications to move into the twenty-first century. The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge gives everyone the opportunity to take positive action to change our world.

Commit yourself. Sign up today and write your first review!

At a Glance: The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge in 2013 2013 2012
Number of Reviews 1822 1526
Books Reviewed 1079 876
Authors Reviewed 763 596

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