Sometimes in life, you come across certain people and businesses doing wonderful work to change society and you think to yourself, ‘how have I only just come across these people?’. Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I came across Women’s Writes, an online feminist book club established to promote women writers.
Although Women’s Writes is so much more than just a book club. It is a community and you only have to follow them on social media to feel like you’re already part of something powerful. With live author events, book discussions, and a new subscription membership service, Women’s Writes is dedicated to celebrating the work of female authors.
I had the privilege of talking to the founder and dedicated activist, Sophie McDermott, all about how Women’s Writes can empower women through literature:
What inspired you to start Women’s Writes?
I did a History and Politics degree, and I was shocked at how throughout history, and now, women’s voices are being minimised, ignored and even erased. We were barely taught about women (something which we can also see in the school curriculum) and I was appalled.
When I went to work after graduating, I tried to use what I had learnt to support women in the companies I worked for and on the projects that I was involved in. However, I still found it hard to educate people, and I couldn’t figure out how to make feminism accessible to everyone.
I was actually on a coding course, and began playing around with ideas to build a website (which then became the first Women’s Writes website…it was awful!). I came up with the idea of an online book club with a feminist angle. I’m a member of a few book clubs and I love them all (and will still be part of them!) but they either weren’t explicitly feminist, or they were at inconvenient times or locations. So I thought a digital solution would help solve these issues.
I began describing the project to people and they would instantly become more interested in the concept of Women’s Writes than in my coding! So I did a bit more research and realised this could definitely be something that people wanted.
Then, COVID-19 happened, and I realised that this was going to be a really, really hard time for a lot of people. I decided to launch straight away and move quickly, because I knew this could be a place for connection, joy and new friendships, as well as a bit of relief from the scary and difficult environments.
Where are your author events held and why do you think it’s important to hold discussions with authors?
All our author events are held virtually on Zoom, and Instagram Live. We also have written interviews which you can find on our blog. I think it is really important to speak to authors so we can learn more about the books from their perspective. Many of our books speak about feminist issues and we place a lot of emphasis on educating our members.
I think that it’s not just the book itself we need to understand, but the experience and perspective of the person who wrote it; to understand more about the intentional message of the book. Whatever you take away from a book is amazing and author interviews help to aid that learning process.
The second reason we hold author events is that we think it’s really important to increase exposure of authors and books in order to help promote them. If we have a platform, we need to use it to help elevate the voices of these women!
You have recently introduced a new subscription service, how does this work and what does it offer?
I’m really excited about our brand new subscription service. There are several levels to the membership which are as follows:
The top-level is two books and online membership. This means every month you will receive two books, both contemporary new releases (one of which is our book of the month) and access to our exclusive member events and groups.
The next level is one book and online membership. With this level, we will send you our book of the month and you will be given access to all our member events.
The final level is the online membership only. This will give you access to all our member events.
To explain a little bit further, we keep our book club meetings and author events almost always completely free. Our member events are slightly different, in that we invite professionals, from whatever topic we are discussing, to speak.
So for example, our June book is Real Life Money: An Honest Guide by author Clare Seal. So the author event with Clare is open to everyone (via Instagram Live), but our exclusive member events include a session with a qualified Money Coach, a presentation from an Investment Manager and a presentation on pensions from Scottish Widows.
In addition, we have a Facebook group for members to connect and share books they’re reading, social media links, topics of interest and also a chance to vote for our chosen charity of the month.
Why is it necessary that you provide a platform for supporting female authors?
I found out recently that over the last 20 years, just six women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature and the same is true of the Pulitzer Prize. The Booker Prize has been won by 31 men but only 16 women since it was established in 1969.
When I found this information, I was truly shocked. In the 19th and 20th century, it was not uncommon for women to present their work under the pretence of being male in order to be taken seriously.
Women, non-binary and trans persons have been shown to be overlooked again and again in the literary world, and it’s even worse if you are a woman of colour.
It is the responsibility of those who can, to act and do.
You have a lot of things coming up for the future, what can members look forward to by being part of this amazing book club?
Yes, I am honestly so excited about the future of Women’s Writes! We are working on lots of events, exclusive bookish and non-bookish discounts and partnerships with the brands we love, as well as working on a podcast!
I’m really excited and if you aren’t able to join just yet, please do sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date on all our latest news!
To find out more about what this wonderful book club community can offer, I highly recommend that you follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on their website! As Sophie describes, it is vital that platforms like Women’s Writes exist and we can do our bit by showing our support and getting involved!
You can sign up to their brand new subscription service via this link, and I’m excited to offer you an exclusive 10% discount off any purchase by using the code INTHEBOOK10