for writers and readers….

Are woman writers less competitive than men…?

mateshiphomeThis is not a rant against men but there does seem to be a lot of women writers out there who – for want of a better word – are just plain nice.
For these women writing is a business and it is a competitive business and yet they behave as though it isn’t. For example, they pass on useful market information to other writers working in the same niche (I’ve featured two such writers in my Safari Friday spot: Sally Quiller and Kath McGurl).

These thoughts have been sparked by the news last month that  Carrie Tiffany – the first winner of the new Australian literary prize for women writers, is going to share part of her $50,000 prize money with the other shortlisted writers.

Tiffany has won The Stella (named after the author of My Brilliant Career author Stella Miles Franklin) for Mateship With Birds, set in rural Victoria in the 1950s. Tiffany said of her decision to redistribute some of the prize money among the shortlisted authors,

 “I’ve experienced tremendous generosity and support from women in Australian publishing and literature; it’s a way of honouring the many rather than the few.’

To put her thoughts into action, she shared $10,000 of her prize money with Courtney Collins (The Burial), Michelle de Kretser (Questions of Travel), Lisa Jacobson (The Sunlit Zone), Cate Kennedy (Like a House on Fire) and Margo Lanagan (Sea Hearts).

I am not sure it’s a question of being non competitive so much as the idea that good writing isn’t a commodity.

In pure economic terms the opportunities to get published  and therefore paid may be small and getting smaller, but a fellow writer’s success cannot diminish others. Instead it’s cause for celebration if for no other reason than it means another good story to read…and that thought makes me reflect on the supportive group of women writers I have known who have offered support and encouragement (and introductions) over the years. And how much I have to thank them for now and in the past.

So, is this a woman thing? No. A resounding no, but maybe it is more usual for women. And maybe men are tougher, cooler and more competitive with other men.

Congratulations to Tiffany for winning twice, once as a writer and once when she showed how to win with grace and generosity….

By the way Kath McGurl is looking after this blog on Thursday. Pop by to read about her guide to writing stories

4 comments on “Are woman writers less competitive than men…?

  1. The Story Reading Ape
    May 14, 2013

    Women authors do tend to be nice, but they can still be just as aggressive as men when promoting their work in my experience 🙂

  2. bridget whelan
    May 14, 2013

    Sure, we can’t dump a lot of characteristics on half the human race…and I suppose when it comes to getting your book out there’s no getting away from the fact that a bit of up front self promotion is required. I stand back and learn from the ones who do it well. A writer friend who is the best networker I have ever seen in action, who is a walking PR industry as soon as she goes into a room, doesn’t elbow others out of the way. And she will put in a good word for other writers when ever she gets the chance. Her methods are full on and aggressive but she keeps her friends and makes new ones. (Sigh) If she could bottle that up, I’d buy it…

  3. Rhoda Baxter
    May 17, 2013

    Marketing a book is tough, but the buyer isn’t facing an either/or type decision. They can (and often will) buy both books, if they think they’ll enjoy them both. So we’re not competing with each other in the traditional sense. I think there’s some gain in being competitive, but there’s more to be gained by being collaborative and helping each other. Besides, it’s more fun.

    I do think that men are more likely to have the confidence to say “my book is great”, whilst woman would offer a more subdued “if you liked X, you might like my book” (even if the book really IS great). Maybe it’s because we still think that ‘nobody likes a show off, dear’.

  4. simonedavy
    May 20, 2013

    I think many women take criticism better too. The pay off being we are always going to improve!

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