This post will provide an update on the literary fiction survey and the question & answer series I launched earlier this year. I received a surge of interest over the late spring and summer, but the final interview in the queue, with M Pepper Langlinais, is scheduled to publish later this month. She will be the 17th author to participate.
My original intent for the survey was to get the participation of 75 authors. However, I’m beginning to see value from taking this ongoing survey and interview series in a different direction. Before I tell participants about that (and solicit your feedback), I have a favor to ask.
Since we’re closing in on 17 respondents in the interview series, it would be great to get to 25 authors, which will make a cool one-third of 75.
To do that, I need eight more authors to participate. Here’s the assistance I am asking:
If you don’t mind, please reach out to your author community to let them know about and encourage them to participate in the literary fiction survey and interview series.
Literary Fiction Survey Results and Next Steps
In keeping myself busy scheduling the interviews, I have, as a result, neglected the results from the actual literary fiction survey. So it’s time to share. Within the next week, I will publish the results on my blog for the authors who participated. I’m not going to wait and see if we can get to 25 interviews. You’ve given your time to contribute to the survey so you deserve to see the results.
The results will be published anonymously. That is, I’ll list responses to the questions, but I won’t attribute individual responses to the people who gave them. I don’t know if anyone cares one way or the other, but I wish to be a respectful steward of the information you shared.
So what happens after the survey results are published?
A while back, I distributed an email asking what you all thought about the idea of putting together a kind of guide or e-book or SOMETHING to explore how independent writers could more effectively sell their works of literary fiction. It was a market research project, you might say.
One of the most interesting replies I received was from Linda Gillard (here’s her interview) who suggested getting reader input.
And why not? Getting away (momentarily) from the topic of literary fiction and into the purely commercial reality of marketing and sales, no matter what genre one writes in, how in the world will we sell our books if we don’t know what people find attractive to read?
So I don’t want to give up the idea of 75 survey respondents yet. But what I propose as the following step is that the next 25 respondents shouldn’t be from authors of literary fiction. They should come from readers explaining why they choose to read what they do, and whether calling a novel a work of “literary fiction” matters or doesn’t matter when they are making their choices of reading material.
Finding such readers will be my next project. If you have any thoughts or feedback on it, I hope you will share it by responding to this email or leaving a message in the comment box in the right column of this page.
So please–and do this only if you feel comfortable doing so–encourage your author friends to participate in the survey and let them know I’ll be approaching them about doing an interview. Here’s a link to the survey again.
I’ll get the survey results up on the blog within the next few days. And then we’ll see where things go with this reader research project.
Does this sound like a promising direction? Would authors of literary fiction like to hear from its readers to determine how they make their reading decisions?
(In the meantime, in case you missed it, two pieces about literary fiction have recently appeared in ALLi’s Self-Publishing Advice Center worth checking out: Dan Holloway’s “Where is the Great Indie Literary Fiction?” and Ann Richardson’s “What is Literary Fiction Anyway“.)
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Linda Gillard says
I have 1600+ followers on my FB page, many of whom would, I’m sure, be happy to give their views on literary (and “literary”) fiction, so I can ask for volunteers.
I think this is an exciting but logical development, Jay. I’ve never understood why traditional publishers didn’t carry out more reader research. As far as I know, the only traditional publisher who has carried out market research is Harlequin Mills & Boon.
Jay Lemming says
Thanks, Linda. Literary fiction seems like such a blanket phrase, though a very well known one, and one with which we are all comfortable. Presumably readers would be more easily drawn to books that pinpoint topics such as those that you and other authors identified in the survey. Once the questions are developed for review (and feel free to suggest any), I will be in touch about volunteers. I would very much welcome any interest on the part of your readers to participate.
Rohan Quine says
Thanks Jay, have spread the word at https://www.facebook.com/RohanQuineTheImaginationThief/posts/669484029896546 — 25 should be within grasp…
Jay Lemming says
Thank you, Rohan. I will develop some questions and solicit feedback in short order. I appreciate your assistance in helping to get out the word. Jay