Helen Scheuerer, founding editor of Writer’s Edit speaks to us about their latest anthology, Kindling II, and how women are rocking their writerly space.
Kindling Volume II is the latest project by Writer’s Edit, can you describe what it involves?
Sure can! Kindling Volume II is an inspiring collection of short stories, poetry, essays and writing advice by writers from all around Australia and the world.
As with any print anthology, the process behind the Kindling books involves reading lots of submissions, shortlisting, editing and proofreading. We’re lucky enough that for both years, we’ve had a team of dedicated and talented editors who help guide our writers through the process.
When can we get our hands on it?
Kindling Volume II is due to launch on the 18th of November, and will be available from our website, Amazon and hopefully a few special bookstores in Sydney.
What have been the biggest challenges in putting together your anthologies, Kindling and Kindling Volume II?
I think most editors and publishers will say the same thing here: deadlines. Inevitably, challenges arise throughout the production process, which mean either compromising on something or pushing the deadline back. We pushed our deadline back twice this year in order to ensure we had the best possible book at the end.
Another challenge we face is budget. Because we’re a new small press, we currently rely on donations from other organisations and generous individuals to fund our printing and distributing. This can be quite difficult given that we’re in competition with a lot of well-known publishers for this kind of support, now that so many grants have been cut.
Studies have found that women are less likely pitch stories to publication, less likely to submit their writing for top awards and additionally are still less prolifically published authors. As a female member of the industry, do you regularly notice this gender bias?
As a writer, a reader and a publisher, I definitely notice the gender bias in the industry. And the thing is, there are so many different aspects to it, it can actually be really difficult to get your head around. As you said, there’s the studies that have shown women are published less and are winning less awards, but there’s also the notion of pigeon-holing women authors as ‘women’s fiction writers’ if they choose to cover ‘domestic themes’, whereas men who write about the same themes are deemed ‘literary writers’.
The best example of this I’ve got is Jonathan Safran and Jeffrey Eugenides, who are hailed literary geniuses while their female counter parts like Meg Wolitzer and Emma Donoghue are categorized as ‘women’s writers’.
This is certainly something I’ve been wary of as a female author myself, and as a publisher. The recent conversations on gender bias in publishing in the media haven’t only covered these aspects of the topic, but also the fact that books with male protagonists sell more, women who submit under a male pseudonym are better received… And despite the fact that the publishing industry is very much a female dominated niche, how many women are the CEOs?
The sad thing is, I could talk about this issue for hours—there’s that much to discuss.
How has Writer’s Edit helped to combat this gender bias in the publishing industry?
I’m really proud to say that the majority of our Kindling editorial team are women, four out of five in fact. In Kindling Volume II over 80% of our authors are women, plus all members of our online editorial team are women as well.
Although we’re not exclusively about women writers, we provide a publishing platform and an online community that really support them. As most of us are women writers ourselves, we know how daunting the industry can seem and how challenging it can feel putting yourself out there.
We’ve also really keen on discussing these issues. Currently, we’ve got one of our lovely writers interviewing Aviva Tuffield and Donna Ward about their experiences with gender bias, so we can’t wait to get that out in front of our readers to really get the discussion going.
Lastly, what are you particularly thankful for in your job, as a writer and editor?
I’m probably raving about this all the time, but the people I’ve met through Writer’s Edit in particular are amazing. We’ve got an incredibly supportive community who celebrate wins and mourn rejections with you as though they’re their own.
I’m also really thankful for the fact that I learn something new every day. Whether it’s about what works in my own writing, what to look out for on social media or how to best manage the team, not a day goes by that I don’t learn, and that’s a pretty incredible thing.
Helen Scheuerer is a creative writer/novelist from Sydney, and the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit. She has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong and a Masters in Publishing from The University of Sydney. With work published in the UK as well as Australia, Helen also freelances for a number of websites while she works on her own fiction and manages Writer’s Edit. She chronicles her writing process and current work over at HelenScheuerer.com