Women Fail to Seduce Male Readers

New research published by the Orange Prize for Fiction reveals that women still have to work twice as hard as men to get their books read by the opposite sex.

Additionally men will often pass over books written by men if the choice of cover design or title indicates that it is a ‘female read’ regardless of subject matter.

The research [in which twenty books were shown to 200 respondents – male and female] was commissioned to address the following questions:

How important is the gender of the author in our choice of books?

To what extent are particular authors’ books perceived as being written mainly for women, for men or for both and on what basis is this judgement made?

Do books written by women have to ‘work harder’ to sell to men than vice-versa?

Respondents — who were chosen to be a nationally representative selection of adults who read literary fiction — were shown front and back covers of 20 titles and asked to categorise them as intended to be read i) mainly by men ii) mainly by women iii) by both about equally. In addition, focus groups were used for qualitative research…

2005 Prize – Speeches

Kate Mosse “My name is Kate Mosse and I’m one of the Founders and the Honorary Director of the Orange Prize for Fiction. And it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you all to the 10th Orange Prize for Fiction.

That is the cue for a big cheer please!

Many of you will have been at these parties for the past 10 years. And, really, many of us, who are involved with the prize are still pinching ourselves and saying we can’t believe it. We did 10 years and we’re still going strong.

You’ll have noticed that there have been lots of pieces in the paper recently looking back over the past 10 years. And one of the questions that I’ve been asked quite a lot is ‘how did it get done? How did it become so successful?’ The truth is, although I’m the person who stands here, year after year, welcoming you to the party and introducing the chair of judges, and setting everything going for the evening, it is an enormous group effort. There are many people who’ve made the Orange Prize for Fiction what it is: I am just one person among a large, large group. And I’m normally terrible, as you know, for going through long long lists of people like a school register, thanking everybody and because we are short of time this evening, I can’t do that.

But I do want to just mention the various people who’ve played a role in the Prize over the past few years. The founding Women’s Committee, obviously, who had the idea in the first place. I was just the one pushed into the room to do the chat, but there were many people involved in that and they have been, if you like, the conscience of the …

Resources for writers

The Orange Award for New Writers will be awarded for the first time in 2005 to coincide with the Orange Prize for Fiction’s 10th birthday celebrations. The winner will receive £10,000 to help her pursue her work with greater freedom.

Winner announced (7 June 2005)

Shortlist announced (25 April 2005)

The judges will be looking for emerging talent and the evidence of future potential and seeking to identify writers of excellence, originality and accessibility.

All first works of fiction – including novels, short story collections and novellas – written by women of any age or nationality and published in book form in the UK between 1st April 2004 and 31st March 2005 will be eligible. Novels can be entered for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Orange Award for New Writers in any given year.

The Orange Award for New Writers 2005 shortlist will be announced on Monday April 25th and the prize will be awarded at the 10th Orange Prize for Fiction Award ceremony on Tuesday June 7th.

The Orange Award for New Writers is supported by Arts Council England.

The judges for 2005 are novelist Kamila Shamsie (chair) – who was one of the 21 writers featured in the Orange Futures promotion, editor and publisher Margaret Busby and writer and journalist Alex Clark.…

Shortlisted Author Interview – Meg Rosoff

What sparked How I Live Now?

It felt to me as if thousands of loose elements floating in space suddenly converged into a book: the horrible premature death of my youngest sister from cancer, a desperate desire to get out of advertising, a need to impress my new agent, the early rumblings of the Iraq war … for a start.

When did you first realise you wanted to write fiction?

Very early. I began writing stories when I was about seven (mainly about horses), but lost my nerve later on. It took 38 years for me to start writing fiction again. As Shakespeare says, ‘the readiness is all.’

And what did you do before you started writing?

I began my career in academic publishing in New York City, worked at Time Inc, and the New York Times, moved to PR and then advertising, had a stint as deputy press secretary for the NY Democrats in 1988, wrote movie titles and poster copy for Tristar films – and those are just the jobs I remember. I saw in my daughter’s Guinness Book of World Records that the record number of jobs held by a single person was 68; I think I must come very close.

I worked in advertising for 15 years, and was fired repeatedly for insubordination and general lack of commitment, but in retrospect I have to admit I learned an immense amount about writing from the experience.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing the ever-problematic second novel (about a boy obsessed with fate), and am just starting a third, based on the story of Bellerophon and Pegasus.

Please could you tell us about what’s on your bookshelf? The old stuff, the unread stuff, the favourite books, the passing enthusiasm …

The ones I’d rescue in a …

Shortlisted Author Interview Nell Freudenberger

What sparked Lucky Girls?

After I graduated from college, I got a job teaching English in Bangkok. From there I went to India for the first time, and fell in love a bit. I went back to Delhi the following summer and lived in a strange apartment on Pandara Road, with a particularly memorable landlady.

Once I was home in New York again, I found myself missing that time in Delhi in particular. I was working in an office, and in the mornings before work I started writing the first story in this book, “Lucky Girls.” I had always thought that I couldn’t write a story set in India – maybe I thought an American couldn’t write about India.

Once I started, of course, I realized that I wasn’t writing about India, but about being an American; for whatever reason, it wasn’t until I went to Asia that I began to think about what that meant.

When did you first realise you wanted to write fiction?

I wrote stories and poems and things in high school. I was always a very enthusiastic reader of fiction, but until I got to college I insisted that I wanted to be a doctor. My father is a writer, and when I was a child, he often seemed to be drinking coffee or volunteering for chores around the house – anything but sitting in his office. It didn’t look like any fun to me.

And what did you do before you started writing?

My first job was cocktail waitressing at an Irish bar/Caribbean restaurant in Boston. I taught English in Bangkok and then in New Delhi, and worked for two years as an editorial assistant at the New Yorker magazine.

What are you working on now?

A novel that takes place in Los Angeles, …

What sparked 26a?

It was sparked by the death of someone close to me. I had a weirdly comic and mystifying experience of grief and bereavement that had a lot to do with being a twin.

The idea of being cut in half but also doubled by the experience stayed with me for a long time before I began writing the book, which eventually became a novel, essentially, about the relationship between twins.

Other themes in the book, such as marriage and dual heritage, and the contrasts of comedy and tragedy, realism and the supernatural, became metaphors for twinness, for ‘two-ness’.

When did you first realise you wanted to write fiction?

I used to read a lot when I was a teenager and I was enthralled by this power some books had of enveloping you in another world, peculiar, vivid, complex worlds where anything was possible. I started off by writing poetry, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties, working as a journalist and feeling somewhat restricted writing articles, that I began to want to create such worlds myself.

The way I read was changing. More than simply enjoying being seduced, I began to think about how and why I was being seduced. The more aware and discerning I became as a reader, the stronger became the desire to write. Good fiction, good writing, makes me want to write, and vice versa.

And what did you do before you started writing?

I went into journalism not long after graduating from a media studies degree. I was a dancer for a while, but then decided that if it was a toss between dancing and writing, writing was the thing. I worked full-time on a woman’s magazine then went freelance and began writing fiction alongside journalism.

What are you working on now?

Another …