Curation & Community: Inside the Online Literary Magazine Women Writers, Women’s Books

The owner and managing editor of the online literary magazine Women Writers, Women’s Books, Barbara Bos discusses growing the community—and how to submit.
Publish date:

The owner and managing editor of the online literary magazine Women Writers, Women’s Books, Barbara Bos lives with her family in a small village in Spain, where she is at work on her first novel.

Image placeholder title

You've curated this space for women in the writing community for some time. What inspired the site?

Poet and writer Anora McGaha founded Women Writers, Women’s Books in 2011 with the idea of providing an online platform for women writers, by women writers. I became involved in 2013 and ended up taking over the site shortly afterward.

I always believed [in] and adhered to its initial motto, focusing on support more than anything, and grew it into what it is today. Although perhaps “grew,” in this instance, isn’t the right description; it’s been more like nurturing, giving women writers of all walks of life a voice. Providing inspiration and support for others. Not a day goes by when I’m not awe-inspired by stories and articles arriving in my inbox. It’s like watching magic.

Today your site isn't only a content hub, but an active community with a dedicated Facebook group of more than 14,000 members. Was that part of your original concept, or did it happen organically?

Yes, the actual community aspect was very much part of the original concept. It felt like it was something that was lacking at the time and Facebook seemed the best way to go. Some people advised me against the idea, that it wouldn't work, or would open itself up to abuse. That was my initial worry too; the internet can be a wonderful place, but online forums can be vicious.

However, the Facebook group developed into a place I hoped it could be, not defined by self-published, traditionally published, or genre [designations], but rather a place where women writers learn from each other and offer mutual support. A place where women writers feel they can ask questions without fear of being labeled or trolled. And also, a place not defined by being invite-only. I didn't want anyone to feel left out.

The group is monitored, but again, it doesn't need more than occasional steering. Simply pointing out that it's actually OK to just be nice seems to be enough; agree to disagree [is OK]. And the mutual support which flows from that is overwhelming and wonderful to see.

 Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published

Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published

You boast some impressive stats in your quantity and quality of contributors. What about Women Writers, Women’s Books are you proudest of?

MM Finck, who oversees our interview section, has interviewed some amazing authors for the site: Emily Giffin, Caroline Leavitt, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Jardine Libaire and Laura Dave, to name a few. And I shouldn't forget Isabel Allende. She was one of the first big names we featured in the beginning.

There is so much talent out there, and we have the privilege to share such inspiring and diverse pieces! Authors like Amy Impellizzeri, Kerry Lonsdale, Joanne Harris, Elizabeth Buchan, Hazel Gaynor, Liz Fenwick and Martha Conway have written several times for us. I love working with them. They're hugely supportive of other women writers.

What makes me incredibly proud is the fact that we have collaborated and continue to collaborate with other women writers’ organizations and initiatives. We played a tiny role in the #readwomen2014 hashtag, for instance, which became nothing less than a movement.

Beyond following your submission guidelines, what can you tell writers interested in contributing about the sorts of pitches you’re actively looking for?

We feature a wide range of writing-related articles, and the most important thing we look for in those is authenticity. That sounds like a cliché, but in the end of the day, all subjects have already been covered on the internet. There are countless articles about writing inspiration and writing tips, but it's authenticity that gives the piece its flavor. It's all about perspectives. Whether recently published, established author, or someone who's just started blogging, we all have a different writing voice, and someone else can learn from it. We also welcome pieces about lesser-known authors (such as Judith Kinghorn’s “Neglected Lady Novelists and Me”) and the rediscovery of women writers throughout history.

Image placeholder title

ROAR: Writer's Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled "ROAR," which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer's Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

Check out these upcoming online courses:

Advanced Novel Writingwith Terri Valentine
Pitch An Article: Write for Today's Marketplace with Estelle Erasmus
Short Story Fundamentalswith John DeChancie
Writing the Thriller Novelwith William Bernhardt
Freelance Writingwith Kelly Boyer Sagert
Write Great Dialoguewith Gloria Kempton
Writing the Picture Bookwith Holly Alder

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.

Poetic Forms

Crown of Sonnets: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the crown of sonnets, a form that brings together seven sonnets in a special way.

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (and as a Person)

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (And as a Person)

Reflective writing—or journaling—is a helpful practice in helping understand ourselves, and by extensions, the stories we intend to write. Author Jeanne Baker Guy offers 25 ways reflective writing can help you grow as a writer (and as a person).

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your character know they're being followed.

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.