Yes, I know some of you will think I’m crazy!
However, the topic of reading is always on my mind and this time, with advice from historical fiction editor and blogger Jenny Quinlan and New York Time best-selling author Beatriz Williams, fellow panel members at the upcoming Historical Novel Society’s Denver conference, I’m releasing a 3rd reader survey.
- preferences regarding famous or fictional characters
- what makes characters come alive
- favourite historical novels (yes, this will be complicated)
- favourite historical fiction authors (let’s see how the rankings change this year)
- effects of social media on the reading experience
Please take the survey and share the link with friends, family, and on as many social media venues as you can – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GXRD9B7. The survey will be open until May 14. Many thanks for your help.
A few highlights from prior surveys:
- HISTORICAL FICTION IS MAINSTREAM: Less than 2% of participants said they rarely or never read historical fiction.
- GENDER MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Women and men differ significantly in their reading habits and preferences and their views of historical fiction.
- AGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period
and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.
- SOCIAL MEDIA IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON READING: Social media and online sites play an increasingly significant role for those choosing, purchasing, and talking about fiction.
- BOOK BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR: 1,473 participants listed one, two or three favourite blogs.
- GEOGRAPHY: Responses to questions such as the use of online tools for recommendations and purchasing and preferred setting for historical fiction varied by geography.
- PRICING: Sadly, readers are pushing for low prices. For example, 60% want e-books at $5.99 or less and 66% want paperbacks at $10.99 or less.
- ONLINE BOOK CLUBS ARE GAINING POPULARITY: 21% belong to online clubs while 15% belong to clubs meeting in a physical location
- VOLUME OF BOOKS READ MAKES A DIFFERENCE: for example, high volume readers have different expectations for book reviews, a higher interest in tracking their books, and higher usage of online tools and social media to augment their reading experience.
A Writer of History has many posts on survey results and insights and you can find summary reports and other popular articles here.
FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)
M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.
Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
The 2013 historical fiction survey ran from October 16 to November 11 and reached 2440 participants from different parts of the world.
From the World of Historical Fiction is the initial summary of survey results. The data sheds light on preferences and habits of readers and offers interesting insights to writers and others in the publishing world. Click here to access the full 23-page report.
Stay tuned for further insights as I assemble responses regarding favourite authors – more than 5000 entries to collate – and favourite blogs/online sites as well as the deeper analysis that comes from cross-tabulation of results. Best way to ‘stay tuned’ is to follow A Writer of History (see the left side column for the place to provide your email).
I am very grateful for the support of Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, and to a number of bloggers, authors and others in the reading community who contributed ideas and publicity for this year’s survey.
I look forward to your feedback.
I’m tired of crunching numbers so I decided to take a peek at the write-in comments from the survey. I designed this year’s survey to minimize the amount of work I had to do tabulating responses — believe me, wading through hundreds of responses to an open question takes a lot of time — nonetheless there were a few places for participants to share their thoughts.
Here are some write-in comments related to factors that determine favourite historical fiction:
I appreciate reading full-bodied stories by wordsmiths who engage me into the story full throttle.
If a character has faults this makes him more human. If he fails to gain favour or position, again a believable human trait. It is how the author deals with some of the lesser characters necessary to the plot that puts realism into the retelling of a historical event or time-line.
I like an author to stick to the known facts, and elaborate to make the story readable, but not make up very much. And to tell me which parts are made up.
Characters and setting/times must ring true, avoid cliches. Characters must think and act appropriate to their times, not like modern people.
If the story moves me that is what is really the most important. I have to be drawn in, to be swept back in time and into this world created by the author. I do strongly prefer that the historical elements be researched and as authentic as possible without detracting from the story (it is fiction after all).
I love to be swept up in a good story. A historical setting just makes it even more of an escape.
romance, yes…sex, no
If I feel like a book is trying to comment on “marginalized” groups at the expense of historically dominant types, I deliberately won’t read it.
The lives of ordinary people who find themselves at the heart of extraordinary, historic events.