Is it harder to get published if you're a woman writing adventure sports books?
- Thursday 11 November 2021
Photo by John Walsh
I won’t say who it was and I won’t tell you the country, but it won’t make pretty reading I’m afraid.
‘Jon, you always tell me about the books that sell well. Tell me about the books that don’t sell well.’
‘Oh, we’ve got lots of those. In the last year To Live by Elisabeth Revol, one of the most riveting reads we have ever published, just hasn’t sold that well.’
‘Yes, I can see that. For us, we cannot sell books written by women. People here in XXX won't buy adventure books written by women. There is no interest.’
And we all know about women’s sport coverage on the BBC. You’d think women didn’t play cricket, football, rugby etc. until recently; it’s almost impossible for a woman to win sports personality of the year, and as for the prize money …
Is it harder to get published if you are a woman writing adventure sports books in the UK than a man? I don’t actually know. I like to think we take books on merit and not gender, and that old excuse about only publishing what is presented to us is wearing a bit thin now. One of our founding principles was never to produce a guidebook without a picture of a woman in it. Guides are meant to inspire and indeed represent who uses them, so that is what we illustrate.
You’ll also appreciate we publish plenty of women, increasingly more so. But still, there is that unspeakable truth about publishing. Men will read books by men, and women will read books by men and women. I hope we have chosen to ignore that, and we just publish what we are asked to publish. Also, we hope that men and women will buy that book as a book and not be prejudiced by the gender of the author.
Which brings me to cycling. The men’s Paris-Roubaix winner takes home a prize purse of €30,000 – not bad for a bike ride. While the women’s winner gets €1,535. Really! It was great to see the bike brand Trek go ahead and make up the difference for this race, but there are plenty of other races where the disparity is at least as shocking.
And so, I get to my point. We love cycling, we love the rewards pedalling your bike can bring – economically, environmentally, emotionally. We also recognise that, until recently, women were massively underrepresented and clearly still underpaid to ride their bikes, so any new publication needed to engage with this. So, we made a conscious decision to publish a book that represents every sort of rider and has something for every sort of rider –from pre-school to pro; and yes, it just so happens to be written by a woman.
It’s not a statement – I’m way under qualified to do that – it’s just a book to inspire male and female cyclists that can be read by male and female cyclists, kids and grandparents, and the rest of us struggling in between. It has been written by the very best person we could find to write it. The UK I know will embrace it, and my friends at the other overseas publishing houses will hopefully get there eventually and watch their country enlighten itself. So there you go, that’s why we have published 1001 Cycling Tips by Hannah Reynolds … or H Reynolds if you prefer.
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Here's what our Commissioning Editor, Kirsty, said about why she picked Hannah to write 1001 Cycling Tips:
'I approached Hannah because I really liked her writing and she had a great mix of book and magazine experience. She’s also vastly knowledgeable about cycling and having guided hundreds of people on long-distance cycling trips she knows all the questions people ask, or are afraid to ask! The 1001 Tips books need authors who are authoritative but are able to get the information across in an accessible and fun way and I knew that Hannah was the best person to do this, and she did an absolutely fantastic job of it!'
1001 Cycling Tips by Hannah Reynolds is available to order now with 20% off and free UK postage