I recently conducted a survey of certain of my Writing Academy students - via mail. You know, using real post, with stamps!
I did this to find out specifically what OFFLINE writers feel about writing - to see whether their worldview was different from the thoughts and feelings of ONLINE writers.
I think you'll be surprised, shocked even, by the results.
(Big mega shock: 73% of OFFLINE WRITERS don't use the Internet at all!)
Right. The first thing you have to remember about surveys is that the data may not be a totally accurate reflection of reality.
Most surveys are, in fact, just a reflection of the kind of people that fill out surveys!
For instance, this survey was sent out to thousands of writers, of whom only 10% responded.
Therefore the views of this other 90% might be completely different from the hundreds that took the time to mail me their answers.
Having said all that as a qualifier, here's what I discovered.
Only 14% of people who considered themselves writers had ever got paid for what they'd done.
7% considered themselves a professional.
Just 6% said it was their goal to write for a living.
A whopping 51% considered themselves to be enthusiastic amateurs - the rest wrote only occasionally.
61% said their main interest was in fiction, 33% nonfiction and 10% picked out poetry as their main focus, with smaller percentages spread over a wide range of areas.
A fact that shocked me was the genre most respondents were interested in was Children's and YA fiction - at 21%.
Romance came in second - 16% with Mystery and Suspense third - at 14%.
Only 4% said they were interested in writing Thrillers.
Smaller percentages were recorded over a wide range of genres - everything from Horror to SF to Fantasy to Biographies.
It surprised me that only 7% were interested in writing anything they considered 'literary'!
44% had never taken a writing course before taking one of mine.
Only 6% were involved in a writer's group and only 6% had ever used the Internet to find writing help.
What I found particularly interesting is that almost to a man, all of the professional writers had paid for writing services in the past, from Net courses to correspondence, to MS assessment or even mentoring.
This confirms my experience, though - the writers most likely to succeed are those that actively seek out - and pay for - resources designed to help them.
Also fascinating was that 51% said they wanted 'advanced writing tips' while only 26% wanted help with the basics.
Curiously, it was mostly the 'enthusiastic amateurs' who wanted 'advanced tips' whilst the professionals still wanted help on the basics!
Bearing in mind that most of these respondents had never used the Internet, it was interesting how much respondents were willing to pay for writing courses.
35% said they would pay up to $500 for a good course, 33% up to $200, and 17% up to $100.
17% said they'd be willing to spend over $500!
A mere 1% said they thought writing courses should be free.
Finally, 46% of writers said they wrote purely for pleasure.
42% said their main goal was publication and, also interestingly, 13% said they were writing for posterity.
Well, I hope you've found these results as fascinating as I did - it certainly provides real insight into how offline writers - as a community separate from online authors - see themselves.
Till next time,