Continuing the Story…

Cover design is important. Although we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, the truth is, we do. Just last night, a friend sent me a link to a collection of hilariously bad book covers (my favourite is probably Kim. Or Little Women. It’s hard to decide…)

I’ve already done a series on book cover designs here on the blog – but that message – and the fact that I have a new book coming out on August 30, 2021 – prompted me to continue the story with an update on the importance of cover design.

Continue reading “Continuing the Story…”

Author Q&A with Ally Aldridge

Like many not-so-young adults, I enjoy reading the occasional ‘Young Adult’ (YA) novel. Culture Trip‘s Parish Turner describes the category as one which not only reflects the world around us, but which offers a sense of hopeful escapism – something many of us crave this year!

Despite its reputation as a ‘less serious’ category of fiction, YA frequently deals with difficult issues, ranging from general coming-of-age stories, to social problem novels. And it is precisely because YA often blends relatable settings with engaging fantasy that it is so powerful. Meeting so many of its readers at a critical juncture in their lives, YA has the potential to introduce young people to formative ideas about identity, self-value, relationships, and justice, or to reinforce old stereotypes about feminine beauty and meekness, and masculine wealth and power being the only important values.

That’s why I was fascinated to speak to YA author Ally Aldridge. It’s not every day we get to speak directly to an author and find out what went on behind the book! But today, I’m thrilled to be part of the book tour for Ally’s brand-new Ocean Heart. I hope you’ll enjoy this deep-dive as much as I did!

Continue reading “Author Q&A with Ally Aldridge”

Pen Names & Anonymous Authors

The #challengeaccepted hashtag got me thinking about the power – and danger – of anonymity, and the prevalence of pen names. The idea, Belinda Jepsen at Mamamia reports, is for women “to upload a grey-scale selfie in an apparent show of solidarity”.

The challenge originated with Turkish women drawing attention to domestic violence and femicide. The black and white photographs, far from a mere aesthetic choice, are designed to mimic the sort that appear in reports about murdered women.

Yet, while the idea might be for ordinary and especially marginalised women to have their faces seen and their voices heard, the most successful (if we’re judging the accumulation of ‘likes’ as success) are those glamorous, often sexualised selfies posted by celebrities with vapid Hollywood sentiments.

Continue reading “Pen Names & Anonymous Authors”

Wired Birds

One of the joys connected to reading and writing is reading books about the craft of writing.

Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird in many ways represent two opposite ends of the spectrum of writing guides.

I first came across these two books in two very different ways. And it is perhaps fair to say that the ways in which I encountered them shaped my experiences reading them.

Continue reading “Wired Birds”

In Defence of Novels in Englishes

If you primarily read novels written in English, have you ever wondered how writers decide which English to use? What do I mean ‘which’ English? And what’s with the weird spelling of ‘defense’ in the heading?

All of us grow up speaking not just a mother tongue (or possibly several!) but a variety of that language. In my case, I grew up speaking English, started learning Japanese as a child, and then tried my hand at French in later life before dabbling with some other languages – living and dead.

The variety of English I grew up speaking is Australian English – and more specifically, South Australian English. In this post, I want to share with you why I decided to write my debut novel in Australian English – and what that actually means.

Continue reading “In Defence of Novels in Englishes”

On Book Bigotry – Part 3


Location, location, location. It’s that old real estate saying. And, in our globalised economy – and particularly, in our globalised digital economy – we could be forgiven for thinking it shouldn’t matter where an author or reader is located.

But it does.

In this final post on #bookbigotry, we’ll look at how location affects writers in terms of their language choices, and how it affects readers in terms of what books they have access to. Then, we’ll examine how all three factors explored in this series – format, platform, and location – affect the way books are understood and appreciated.

Continue reading “On Book Bigotry – Part 3”

On Book Bigotry – Part 2


In my previous post, I set out three subtle forms of ‘book bigotry’ I have observed in publishing, whereby reviewers, readers, and even writers judge a book by some aspect of its publication, rather than on the basis of its written content. That post explored the first of these kinds of prejudice, based on a book’s format (e.g. physical vs. ebook). In this post, we turn to examine prejudice based on platform, and in the next, we will look at location-based biases.

Continue reading “On Book Bigotry – Part 2”

On Book Bigotry – Part 1


I first came across the concept of #bookbigotry in the writings of author and publishing guru Carolyn Howard-Johnson. She describes how people sometimes make snap judgements about a book on the basis that it is independently published – without reading the book’s description, or the author’s bio, or even looking at the cover.

Indie authors can encounter book bigotry early on in the publishing process, as soon as they start shopping their novels around for reviews. Many reviewers explicitly state that they will not consider independently published works.

Given the vast number of requests they are inundated with, it’s understandable reviewers want to narrow down the herd. A ‘no indies’ requirement appears to be a simple and effective hurdle for reviewers to put in place in order to stem the flow of requests. A way of using traditional publishers as gatekeepers.

But of course, not all traditionally published books are high quality and well-produced, and not all independently published books are error-riddled dross. I’ve written before about how traditional publishers are no longer the gatekeepers they once (supposedly) were.

Continue reading “On Book Bigotry – Part 1”

Bloggers and book hauls: 12 case studies

Things have been a little quiet on the blog, while I’m working on a new series focusing on #bookbigotry. But in the middle of preparing those posts, I got a little bit sidetracked – looking into the phenomenon of book hauls.

Kelly’s post on Stacked Books close to a decade ago seems to have been one of the first to draw attention to ‘book haul’ videos wherein some bloggers brag about the sheer volume of books they’ve picked up at conferences.

Now, I can hardly blame anyone for being excited about getting books! I love collecting books as much as the next person. But what appears to upset many in the industry – authors, publishers and publicists, not to mention other reviewers and librarians who ultimately miss out when all the copies are scooped up by a select few – is that some people are apparently walking away with great swags of books without any interest in evaluating or promoting the books received – and maybe not even reading them.

Now, as I’ll detail in an upcoming post, I do not believe anyone should feel obligated to review a book, full stop. Even if they have promised to do so. Some books simply aren’t a good fit for some people, and that’s okay.

But all this got me thinking – how many books is too many? To accept for review, or to take from a conference, I mean. (I’m certainly not proposing a limit on the number of books in your own personal collection!) And, have things changed in recent years? So, I put on my researcher’s cap, and did some digging.

Continue reading “Bloggers and book hauls: 12 case studies”