Once Upon a Time . . . while visiting a magical land inhabited by fairytale princesses and a peppy talking mouse, an ambitious and inspired concept was hatched by authors of a relatively new romance sub-genre: Jane Austen literary fiction. The idea was fairly simple conceptually. How about creating a group blog for published authors of this new genre to share their novels, love for Austen, knowledge of Regency Era history, publishing journeys, and whatever else sounded good?
Perhaps this group blog concept was strengthened by the “where dreams come true” atmosphere of Walt Disney’s World mingling with the celebratory theme of the 2010 Romance Writers of America National Conference (see image right). I can confirm (as the one who conceived of the group blog concept) that the location was definitely influential, but the RWA Conference itself deserves a greater portion of the credit for what, obviously, became Austen Authors.
You see, the year before at the 2009 RWA Conference in Washington D.C. was when the idea had first been broached. Why did a whole year pass? Alas, we were fledglings in the publishing biz and (as amazing as this is to believe now) “blogging” of any kind was a fairly new activity. Fast forward just one year, blogs were gaining popularity, particularly those with several authors joining together to share the workload. In fact, by summer of 2010 I had been a contributing author on the Sourcebooks Publishing House supported Casablanca Romance Authors blog – which remains active to this day – for over a year. HINT: Search my name to read my first forays into blogging!
The experience gained in one year of being published authors, running personal websites, and blogging made all the difference in the world. Additionally, the Austen literary genre had grown a lot. Determined to make the dream come true, we immediately set to work! By the end of September 2010, Austen Authors, the first-ever group blog for published authors of Austen literary fiction was launched. I can’t recall the exact number of authors who were on the roster for our opening month, but it was around ten to begin, with more joining over the subsequent months of 2010 until we reached our maximum of twenty.
What I DO remember is that Regina Jeffers was the first non-Sourcebooks author to jump in with both feet, and from day-one Regina volunteered to help administrate the group’s “behind the scenes” chores. It is extremely important to me that Regina’s tireless, selfless, and faithful efforts from the earliest beginnings of this blog are emphasized. Equally as critical, to me especially but also to where we are today with the Austen Authors blog, is Regina’s unfailing, sincere friendship. I promise I won’t divert into a lengthy message on “friends” who turn out not to be friends after all, but suffice to say, I’ve sadly experienced far too many heartbreaks from those I trusted. Relevant to the history of this wonderful blog, one such heartbreak came in January 2014 when a series of events led to the closure of Austen Authors.
For close to a year, the blog did not exist other than as an archive. It was a depressing period that would have been a thousand-times worse if not for the steadfast friendship of Regina Jeffers. Finally, after months of gentle prodding, she convinced me that together we could revitalize Austen Authors with a whole new crop of incredible Austenesque authors. In point of fact, it took more than “gentle” prods! I was quite skittish, to be honest, but when a person proves their loyalty through the tough times, it is much easier to trust and take a leap of faith.
Starting fresh with a revamped look to the website, the AUSTEN AUTHORS GRAND RE-OPENING DAY was on January 24, 2015. Click the yellow balloon image to read our first post with the new and improved Austen Authors. Eighteen authors, including Regina and me, were amongst those who re-launched this fabulous blog FIVE YEARS AGO!
Final note on the “retrospective” portion of this post: The years administrating Austen Authors have exceeded my expectations and been wonderfully exciting, even with the hardships leading to the hiatus in 2014. I am proud of what has been built and sustained for ten years by a host of authors and readers into one of the longest running blogs in the world of Jane Austen websites. This is why I wanted to share the entire history (a truncated version) for those who may not be aware of the journey Austen Authors has taken. A great number of our visitors have been a part of the AuAu family since 2010 and I want to express my appreciation.
Now! On to the “anniversary” portion of this post! As far as I am concerned, Austen Authors began in earnest on January 24, 2015, largely because my partnership with Regina has been an absolute joy and immeasurably superior in every possible way to the “old” AuAu incarnation. Together we laid the foundation. Together we keep the structure intact and processes running smoothly. This is critical, but our skills would matter naught if not for ALL of the incredibly talented authors who previously and currently contribute to our blog. Furthermore, all of us blogging our hearts out on an aesthetically pleasing website would have mattered naught without a steadily increasing audience of visitors (And book readers, hopefully!) encouraging our efforts.
As a way to show just how amazing these five years have been, what better way than with some statistics? Get ready for some wild numbers!
A Round of Applause for the Austen Authors
At this time, we have 25 published novelists contributing to Austen Authors with blog posts daily, Monday through Saturday. Over the course of five years we have had a total of 41 authors participating, meaning 16 AuAus have left for various reasons. All of the posts by our former authors are intact on the blog and can be accessed via “Blog Search” at the bottom of the far right sidebar.
Gone, but not forgotten (in no particular order): Anna Elliott, Barbara Silkstone, Brenda Webb, Cecilia Gray, Elizabeth Adams, Georgina Young-Ellis, Elizabeth Ann West, Jeanna Ellsworth, Jennifer Petkus, Joana Starnes, Karen Wasylowski, Melanie Schertz, Rose Fairbanks, and Sarah Price.
I want to give a special shout out to Rebecca Jamison and Katherine Reay, our departing authors this year. Both committed before the 2015 relaunch, so are amongst the original group who got us off the ground. Bidding adieu is always painful, but the sadness when Rebecca and Katherine moved on to new endeavors was especially profound. They had become true friends and given so much to Austen Authors. We wish them well.
Below is the current roster of Austen Authors, in order of their debut blog post. We have a large number of committed “old timers”!
Sharon Lathan ~ debut blog post on 1/26/15 (88 total posts)
Alexa Adams ~ debut blog post on 1/30/15 (76 total posts)
Regina Jeffers ~ debut blog post on 2/2/15 (186 total posts)
P. O. Dixon ~ debut blog post on 2/12/15 (106 total posts)
Diana J. Oaks ~ debut blog post on 2/16/15 (68 total posts)
Leenie Brown ~ debut blog post on 9/1/15 (87 total posts)
Zoe Burton ~ debut blog post on 5/2/16 (67 total posts)
Victoria Kincaid ~ debut blog post on 6/21/16 (58 total posts)
Elaine Owen ~ debut blog post on 6/24/16 (54 total posts)
Sophie Turner ~ debut blog post on 7/8/16 (52 total posts)
Collins Hemingway ~ debut blog post on 9/8/16 (46 total posts)
Renata McMann ~ debut blog post on 9/29/16 . (38 total posts)
Gianna Thomas ~ debut blog post on 10/3/16 (50 total posts)
Jann Rowland ~ debut blog post on 10/15/16 (45 total posts)
Summer Hanford ~ debut blog post on 11/24/16 (21 total posts)
Don Jacobson ~ debut blog post on 3/18/17 (46 total posts)
Eliza Shearer ~ debut blog post on 5/12/18 (25 total posts)
Nancy Lawrence ~ debut blog post on 5/19/18 (23 total posts)
Catherine Bilson ~ debut blog post on 5/24/18 (21 total posts)
Bronwen Chisholm ~ debut blog post on 6/9/18 (23 total posts)
Paisley James ~ debut blog post on 8/4/18 (19 total posts)
C.D. Gerard ~ debut blog post on 1/26/19 (13 total posts)
Allie Cresswell ~ debut blog post on 8/24/19 (7 total posts)
Bella Breen ~ debut blog post on 1/18/20 (1 post)
Jayne Bamber ~ scheduled debut blog post on 2/8/20
Time For the Numbers!
Total Published Blog Posts = 1,723
Total Blog Post Comments = 35,220
Total All-time Blog Views = 1,042,809
Total 2019 Giveaway Prize Winners from Individual AuAu Blogs = 90
Total 2019 Quarterly Giveaway Prize Winners = 140
Total Giveaway Prizes from ALL Giveaways since 2015 = 1,096
Total New Novel Releases from Current AuAus = over 150
Austen Authors Beyond the Blog
We attempt, to the best of our ability, to extend our reach to social media platforms. Below are the four places where we can be found, each one offering unique content. Click the name or the image to connect directly. PLEASE like, join, or follow!
15 Boards with 1,935 Pins
Special thanks to Nancy Lawrence who manages the Austen Authors Twitter account.
Thanks to everyone for being a part of Austen Authors.
Whether a long-time visitor or a recent discoverer of our blog, we would have no reason to continue with this blogging adventure if not for those who love Jane Austen and the unique writings from our authors who strive, above all, to keep her world alive.
Please share your thoughts of our blog and our authors.
What can I say? We love the accolades!