From Helen: Usually, the Mid-Month Extra is posted on the 15th of each month, but as I am away at a conference this weekend I thought I would post it a day early as it is a very interesting article.
The Mid-Month Extra with Richard Tearle
On the 1st January, 2017, Helen (Hollick) launched this site, Discovering Diamonds. The aim was to present reviews of books of historical fiction by, primarily, new and largely independent authors. It was very much a case of a step in the dark, a leap of faith and holding your nose whilst jumping off the top diving board. In at the deep end definitely, for to engage upon such a journey, one must have the backing and interest of authors. Not to mention a pile of books, fresh and eager to be opened, read and appraised.
These months on and there can be little doubt that this venture has proved a resounding success with readers and authors alike. So: here are a few interesting little facts.
Statistic no 1: As of the 30th April 2018, 228 different authors have been featured.
Keep in mind a couple of things here: reviews aren't published at weekends, there have been variations on mid-week 'extras' (articles on some aspect of writing), tributes to renowned authors (including Helen herself, but she'll 'edit' this bit, I'm sure! [Helen: tempted to delete, but I’ll leave it in!] ), Book and Covers of the Month awards, the fact that she took a well deserved holiday during August, and no reviews were published during December, making way for the wonderful and exclusive short story feature Diamond Tales. Yet even that can be tempered with the fact that some authors have had more than one book reviewed, that projected reviews take us well into June and that there are still books awaiting allocation to reviewers. Not to mention that, inevitably, some books submitted have not satisfied the necessarily minimum standards to receive a review. Excluded has been the 1066 Turned Upside Down anthology (because Helen is one of the authors) , but included has been a book co-written by a husband and wife team.
That's pretty impressive.
Statistic No 2: of those 228 authors, 168 are women (73.6 %) and 60 are men (26.3%).
Once again, this doesn't take into account the actual number of books, but just a quick glance at the 'Books by Author' section would show that the statistics would favour the ladies even more.
Statistic No 3: 1400s. 10 books – 8 by women, 2 by men.(80%/20% - even I can work that one out without a calculator).
Statistic No 4: 1500s: 16 books, 12 by women, 4 by men (75%/25%)
Statistic No 5: 1600s: 23 books, 18 by women, 5 by men (78.2%/21 .7%)
Statistic No 6: 1700s (including regency): 26 books, 21 by women, 5 by men (80.7%/19.2%)
Statistic no 7:1800s (including American Civil War):51books, 42 by women, 9 by men (82.3%/17.7%)
Statistic No 8:1900s (excluding WWI & WWII): 28 books, 20 by women, 8 by men (71.4%/28.5%)
Statistic No 9: World War I: 13 books, 8 by women, 5 by men (61.5%/38.4%)
Statistic No 10: World War II: 29 books, 21 by women, 8 by men (72.4%/27.5%)
And finally, to hammer home the point:
Statistic No 11: 1300s: 7 books, 7 by women, 0 by men (100%/0%)
There are a few other periods and the outcome would, by glancing at them only, be very similar to the overall picture. And if I have miscounted somewhere (and that is sure to have happened), then one or two errors either way will not have any significant impact on the findings. Clearly, then, Historical Fiction is most definitely a woman's domain. You, authors yourselves, may have opinions on why this should be – and we would love to hear them; I will make no comment here other than to stress that Historical Fiction is only one genre (and a blanket one at that) and wonder whether men 'dominate' in other genres – horror, crime, fantasy etc – as much as women do here.
What drew you to write Historical Novels as opposed to some other genre? Are you surprised by the findings? Do you think a sample of just under 300 books is sufficient enough to justify the claims? Oh, I know many of you have written books that can be also be classified in other categories, or embrace more than one (Timeslip, for example), but they must have contained a high degree of the past to have been reviewed here.
© Richard Tearle