Sarah’s review

Welcome to the first instalment of Word of Mouth TV’s industry news series, in which we summarise bookish news for the past fortnight, and flag upcoming events.

If any of our subscribers hear anything on the grapevine, we’d love to hear from you. Just email us at, or contact us on our twitter feed @wordofmouth_T_V .

Miles Franklin shortlist

Top billing this week goes to the Miles Franklin shortlist. Founded in honour of Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, the Miles Franklin Literary Award is Australia’s most prestigious literary prize.

The nominations are:

No More Boats (Felicity Castagna, Giramondo)
The Life to Come (Michelle de Kretser, Allen & Unwin)
The Last Garden (Eva Hornung, Text)
Storyland (Catherine McKinnon, Fourth Estate)
Border Districts (Gerald Murnane, Giramondo
Taboo (Kim Scott)

Interestingly, the line-up is majority female, quite timely given the next article on the Stella Count. Go girls! And you too Gerald and Kim!

Sixth annual Stella Count

Decades of systematic exlusion of women from Australia’s literary prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, spawned Australia’s Stella Count, which tallies the amount of review coverage granted female authors compared with male authors; and, of course, the The Stella Prize.

Two weeks ago, the Stella unveiled its 2017 annual count. The study shows that the bias in reviews towards women persists with publications reviewing fewer women’s books in 2017 than in 2016. Women gained 40% of reviews, compared with men at 60%.

The 2017 study shows that women are a long way from achieving parity with men in terms of not only the number and percentage of books reviewed but the amount of space dedicated to female reviewers. The count tallied 400 large reviews for men and 226 large reviews for women, leading to the conclusion that men receive nearly double the amount of review space. Given that men already receive 60% of reviews, at double the size, the figures are telling.

The Stella Count suggests this was because the majority of editors of literary journals were men, and that men prefer to read books written by men. Why the majority of editors were men, it didn’t venture to guess.

For more information, go straight to the horse’s mouth:

Movement at the station

It has been a big news fortnight for women. Louise Sherwin-Stark has been appointed chief executive officer for Hachette Australia and New Zealand. Stark was previously the joint managing director of Australia and New Zealand, having stepped into the role after the death of Matt Richell in 2014. Justin Ratcliff will continue as managing director. Louise is recognised as the mastermind of the Australian Book Industry Awards.

Literary Speed Dating

The Australian Society of Authors has announced the publishers who will be attending its Literary Speed Dating event in Sydney, Friday, July 13, 2018., 2.30pm to 4pm.

They include: Hachette Australia, Harlequin Australia, Pantera Press, Penguin Random House Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia and The Nash Agency.

New member service for Australian Society of Authors

The ASA has launched “New to View” a bulletin that is emailed monthly to ASA members and subscribers listing members new publications.


Supanova rolled in Down-Under and while TV and movie stars usually take top billing, this year they also had one big author drawcard: Raymond E. Feist. Raymond has millions of fans worldwide and the book-signing queues magically grew bigger and longer. He was flanked by authors Kate Forsyth, Alan Baxter, Lynette Noni, Maria Lewis, Marc Lindsay and James Lindsay.

We were fortunate enough to be granted a quick interview with Raymond E Feist, and will be airing it early July.

Coming up

If the last fortnight was a bit of a fem-fest, the next fortnight may shape up as a kiddy carnival.

Headlining the events list is the Kids and YA Festival at the NSW Writers’s Centre in Rozelle. The keynote speaker will be Deborah Abela, supported by Garth Nix, Jacqueline Harvey, Alice-Miranda and Word of Mouth TV’s own Kate Forsyth. Belinda Murrell is the festival director. We hope to see you there.

Also coming up Rare Book Week in Melbourne, and the Outback Writers Festival.

S.L. Mills is author of GOM’s Gold and a director of The Australian Society of Authors.