2015 Reader Survey Results

2015 What countryThe 2015 reader survey ran from April 23 to May 19 and reached 2033 participants from different parts of the world.

2015 Historical Fiction Reader Survey report summarizes results shedding light on preferences and habits of readers, particularly in the realm of historical fiction. The report includes unique questions for authors, bloggers and publishing industry professionals as well as a series of questions regarding social reading. Click here to access the full 24-page report.

Stay tuned for further insights regarding favourite authors — more than 3600 entries to collate — and favourite historical fiction — more than 4000 entries to collate — as well as deeper analysis from cross-tabulation of results.

Best way to ‘stay tuned’ is to follow A Writer of History (see the FOLLOW button on the left hand margin).

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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31 Responses

  1. This is great! Really interesting results. May I add that this is also of interest to people such as me who are researching historical fiction and its interest among readers and writers :). Thank you so much for this.

      1. I am often lost in medieval England, and my biographical fiction featuring Elizabeth of York will be released this summer. I also have written a Titanic middle grade novel. Thanks for your time and effort in managing this survey!

  2. I was pleased to see the 13th century featured as favored time-period and disappointed how little are women interested to read books that feature a strong male character (since that period abounds with them, how can one prefer 13th – 16th centuries and not care about the men of this period?) It’s like favoring prehistoric matriarchal societies but not wanting to read about the women.

    1. I agree Adriana. I personally love this era regardless of the gender of the main character. Do you think it is a preference for historical romance? I prefer battle scenes to bedroom scenes myself.

      1. I enjoy both, the mixture of romance or better put: relationship between a man and a woman, battles but also politics and spirituality. I don’t count romance books as historical fiction, they don’t strive to be historically accurate. To my dismay I have read reviews where a reader would confess how much she learnt about that time (high middle ages) from a romance book. It’s sad. Being interested in “strong female character” is very trendy today. And often it goes too far – creating unrealistic portrayals of women, or trying to make them militant like men which ultimately undermines the whole effort of celebrating a woman for what she is and not for some confused girl wishes her to be. I think it was Morgan Freeman who once said that he does not celebrate African-American history month or something like that and he asked, the white person who interviewed him “Do you celebrate white history month?” A woman receives equal treatment when she is not given EXTRA attention. That’s just how I feel. Thank you for the great survey and for the conversation.

  3. Many thanks for sharing this. I read a similar survey last year and I found it valuable for marketing my novel. As a writer of Dark Ages historical fiction (early 5th Century) I have to attract a smaller demographic. On the plus side I have a strong female lead so hope that helps me!

  4. Reblogged this on Eclectic pleasures and commented:
    Mary Tod’s 2015 survey on what makes a good book, in the eyes of readers – mainly of historical fiction. Essential reading – and thanks for all the work you put into it, Mary!

  5. Great job, Ms. Tod! I applaud you for organizing and presenting this new survey.

    A couple of questions/suggestions/thoughts (and, yes, I took the survey):

    1. The number of survey respondents skews very heavily to women (84% vs. 16%). Why do you think that is, and how reflective are those percentages of the general HF reading audience? (I ask as an author)

    2. For next time, how about adding something about “type of author” from a publishing-platform POV? Like this:
    * As an author, are you: (pick one)
    — Indie self-published
    — traditionally published
    — hybrid of the two

    3. I notice that, other than time period, there are no other HF sub-genre questions (or did I miss them?). How about adding more about that next time? e.g., Biographical, Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, regional, etc. Just a thought.

    Again, good job!

    1. Many thanks for your questions, Harald, and for taking the survey. I’ve seen other surveys reporting women as higher volume readers than men, particularly of fiction. From the 2012 survey it seems that men skew more to non-fiction, which might mean that they didn’t bother to take the survey. In addition, women are heavier users of social media which is how the survey spread – so more women would have seen publicity about the survey. Why do women read more fiction than men – good question. I can only speculate. Do you have any theories?

      As for the author questions – I was kicking myself after creating the questions that I hadn’t asked some version of your question 2, as that would have been useful for analysis purposes. Your other question would also be interesting – perhaps I will concentrate on authors the next time I do a survey.

      Many thanks for your interest and encouragement.
      All best

      1. Hi Mary. You asked: “… Why do women read more fiction than men … I can only speculate. Do you have any theories?”

        Well, I went to the Source (Google 🙂 and searched for this phrase: “why do women read more fiction than men?” All kinds of interesting results, most supporting the premise that women do, in fact, read more fiction than men. Various studies show that. As to why, hmmmm, not many can explain that. One I found (dealing with cognitive psychology and brain research) is this one from 2007:
        … and another from Princeton that seems to support the idea of gender role stereotyping and childhood socializtion is here:

        So what does this mean for a male author who’s moving from nonfiction to Historical Fiction? Now THAT’s the question. 🙂

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