The chief cook and bottle washer at A Writer of History, also known as M.K. (Mary) Tod, has conducted international surveys examining reading habits, preferences, and interest in historical fiction on four separate occasions. How did this come about?
While writing Lies Told in Silence, I asked, “why do people read historical fiction?” and when I went looking, found almost nothing. That serendipitous question lead to the first historical fiction reader survey in 2012 and then to surveys two (2013), three (2015), and four (2018). Following each survey came interviews with authors, from famous to debut, with bloggers, and with readers. The resulting data and insights offer answers to this initial question and many others.
In addition, each year participants provided their favourite historical fiction authors and in 2015 readers also proposed favourite historical novels. Collectively more than 5,000 people responded from all corners of the world.
While the original intent was to inform my writing and blogging, over time the intent became to illuminate the genre for all stakeholders—readers, writers, bloggers, agents, editors, and others who constitute the reading ecosystem. Almost 100 posts on A Writer of History contain information and analysis based on the data.
Highlights from each year as well as the survey reports can be found below.
In March 2012, the first comprehensive survey of historical fiction reached more than 800 participants. The resulting survey data offered interesting perspectives on favourite authors, time periods and story types, the reading habits of men and women, and the growing influence of social media on reading.
Some 2012 survey highlights:
- From the World of Historical Fiction – Readers Share Their Perspectives offers a pdf summary of results
- Historical Fiction Would Be Better If … considers aspects that distract from readers’ enjoyment of historical fiction
- Historical Fiction Survey – where readers find recommendations includes a breakdown of preferred sources by category
- Connecting Readers and Writers further analyzes sources of recommendations
- Top Historical Fiction Authors – 2012 Survey Results lists 40 favourite authors
- Historical Fiction Survey – She Says, He Says highlights differences between female and male readers
More information about the survey can be found by searching categories such as Historical Fiction Survey, Connecting Readers & Writers, Top Historical Fiction Authors and Top Historical Fiction Sites.
If you wish to browse further, use the search function to explore topics such as ‘historical fiction survey’, ‘favourite authors’ and ‘gender differences’. And if you have questions, get in touch here.
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