5 things I realised about the New Zealand Writing Scene
I am a very small fish when it comes to writing. I'm self published and I have two series, so though I'm not at the bottom I'm not even close to the biggest names we have in New Zealand. So my observations of the New Zealand writing scene is myopic. But what I have seen is that we might be snobs. When I get stuck in writing I like to browse the internet and I stumbled on to the New Zealand book council. I will admit I know very little about them. I've heard of them and I know some authors who deal with them regularly but not me. Not my scene and not just because I am a baby author. When I tried to look up some kiwi authors on their so called comprehensive list I was stunned to see that despite having over 700 authors they really shouldn't be calling themselves comprehensive. So I called them snobs and started up my own list of kiwi authors and what I found made me realise a few things.
1. The first thing I noticed was that kiwi authors need to get a bit more technology savvy. There are some big name authors that have books out of print and they haven't tried publishing them themselves. And there are way too many authors without their own websites. Especially the big names. They have a page on their publishers page and that is it.
2. Wikipedia is flawed. I don't know if it is because the people writing for Wikipedia are snobs or like me they just didn't know but there are a lot of famous New Zealand authors who aren't on the list of kiwi authors. Yeah there are your well known ones like Katherine Mansfield but there are so many that aren't. Like Tracey Alvarez, a USA Today best seller and she isn't on the list or I might say on the NZ book council either. I picked Tracey because her books are literally called New Zealand romance books and she proudly states she is a kiwi.
3. Romance is massive. I wanted to start my list with authors who are publishing so I started scouring Amazon for names that I knew. Like the ones in my own writers associations. Then I just let Amazon show me who they thought were kiwis. Almost all of those were romance writers. Already the romance writers I've found have between the five or six of them that I have added so far to my list have written more books than every other name I've added. I might have to have a page just for the romance writers.
4. We are either elitist snobs or we are isolationists. The main reason I'm not in more writers' associations and more involved in the writing scene here in New Zealand is because I'm an introvert and frankly I don't want to. So that is probably the main reason for the gaps I noticed in the book council and other groups for not having a more comprehensive list. It is that or they are snobs. There is no grey area I'm afraid. But both are completely plausible.
5. A lot of our big names aren't actually big names anymore. I teach English so we have Maurice Gee and Fleur Beale as our go to for novels for the kids. I know the other names as well and I thought I'd see what they were still writing. Sadly some of our biggest names have passed on and the ones still alive haven't written much in the last ten years. I used Amazon for my searching and books by our biggest names aren't there or only a fraction of what they have written. They are mostly out of print or if they are in print you can only get it as a physical book, nothing digital. Try finding a Half men of O and you'll see what I mean.
Over all I'm not sure if the New Zealand writing scene is snobby or if we are just all introverts and don't wave a flag announcing to the world that we are kiwi and proud. Or if there are gate keepers who decide who will have the title of kiwi author and are quite puffed up about this duty. Who knows what the reality is. I'm sure it is probably a mixture of all of these.