I recently closed voting on my most recent website poll which asked the question: What do you like to know about your favourite authors?
You can read the results below or “hear” them at:
Two of the possible responses were from opposite ends of the spectrum: “I want to know nothing” and “I want to know everything!”
One received almost no votes, the other quite a few. Which do think…hope?…goes with which?
Only 2% of voters really didn’t seem to care to know much of anything about authors, even the ones they enjoyed.
After I wiped away the tears and regrouped I realized this wasn’t really all that horrible. Because I am guilty of it too. Many times I will read a book and aside from whatever I can glean from the back cover bio that is about the extent of how much I get to know the author.
So how many people want to know everything about an author they like?
A hefty 16% of the voters! They want to know where you live with who do you have kids dogs cats what do you feed them are you a cook what do you make for supper what time do you eat where do you go on holiday for how long do you like the sun so you like cold how often do you get your hair cut…
I think social media is made for this 16%. Curiosity and fascination is something I totally get. Part of human nature.
Less than 5% of the poll respondents said they want to know where (geographically) an author lives.
This was unexpectedly low.
Where an author lives is something I do tend to look for in an author’s bio.
A few years ago I sat on a panel that investigated this exact topic: Does where a writer live influence the writing? I was the Canadian representative and joined by Deborah Terrell Atkinson (Hawaii), Baron Birtcher (Hawaii & Oregon), Helene Tursten (Sweden), Christopher Moore (Thailand), Sheila Simonson (Pacific Northwest). After a lot of fascinating discussion, the conclusion was that yes, we are influenced by where we live. Political, economic, societal factors, even weather and landscape can flavour the tone of our words.
Also at less than 5% – this one made more sense to me – were the people who wanted to hear an author’s rants and raves and innermost feelings about this, that and the other thing.
I wonder if this is a reflection of a current thought out there that the reign of the BLOG is coming to an end. Or, if not an end, at least a period of less importance. Blogging was one of the first kings of social media communications. The rise of the popularity of blogging and bloggers themselves was meteoric. Today everyone and their pet hamster has a blog. Is there just too much blathering going on? Do we simply not have time to listen to it all? Are we too busy with our own rants and raves to consider someone elses?
Next on the list – Percentage of voters wanting to know about an author’s accomplishments – awards, community involvement, education, commendations – 7%.
9% of respondents want to know about an author’s homelife. Where do you live? With whom? Are your walls colourful or painted white? Do you like art? Do you have pets? How do you spend your days? Where do you spend your time? Do you go for walks? Do you watch a lot of TV? Do you nap in the afternoon? Do you entertain? Are you a hermit?
This next one took me by surprise. Only 14% of voters said they want to know what an author looks like.
I had to think about this one for a while. As I mulled it over I wondered if maybe this % is a bit skewed or perhaps a sign of the changing times.
Take this woman for instance:
In her day, Agatha Christie was not posting selfies on Instagram every few hours. Unless you had an opportunity to meet her in person – an impossibility for many of her fans – the only way a reader knew what Agatha Christie looked like was by the author photograph on her book cover. Today if a reader picks up a book and there is no picture of the author – or they’re reading an eBook – all they have to do is go to Google Images or Facebook or MySpace or YouTube or…..you get the picture.
So I would posit that its not that readers don’t care what authors look like, they just know that if they do they can find a pic in about a million different ways.
This also means there’s no hiding behind a cleverly shot gauzed-over or decades-old head shot anymore.
The response that received the most number of votes at 23% – so almost a quarter of the respondents – was a good one. The winning-est response was that readers want to know about an author’s writing life.
Certainly whenever I meet readers at book signings or conventions, this is a common question. People want to know about the process, our inspirations, our challenges. I like this. It really demonstrates a kind of communion between readers and writers and how we’re both intrigued by and interested in how ideas, thoughts, knowledge, observations end up on the page.
There were also some interesting comments left by visitors to the poll. One said that when they read an author’s work, only if they feel a connection will they then research the individual further. Another favourite said: “sometimes imagination is better than reality“. Ha! What do you suppose they meant by that????
So there you are, a run down of what we want to know about our favourite authors.
The new poll asks the question:
When looking for a new author, how do you find one?
Cast your votes at:
Until next time!