Worlds after tomorrow: what we learned from our survey
Monday, May 28, 2012
Last week, many of you were kind enough to fill out a survey about the Worlds of Tomorrow event and blog series, and Kitschies events in general and a few other important topics (like, whether or not a space squid could beat up a talking tree). We really appreciate it.
The results indicated a few pretty clear trends. Here are some things we've learned...
1. Our readers want to hear more from authors. The author posts were the most popular thing about the Worlds of Tomorrow series and the least-likely to go unread (this is backed up by Google Analytics, too). Plus, every respondent said you wanted to hear more from authors on the blog (100%, seriously).
Obviously the tough part is that it means we're asking professionals to do their job for free. Similarly, we're not keen on being another stopping point on an author's big blog tour - we want thoughtful stuff that isn't part of a marketing blitz. So: it is on us to come up with good questions and make sure that the blog is a worthwhile place for authors to invest time in. No pressure there.
Some great examples of author guest posts out there: Bookworm Blues' Special Needs in Strange Worlds and pretty much any of the original non-fiction on the World SF Blog.
2. Also, more art. We really enjoyed doing the art posts and people want to see more art (81%). We're not going to start doing 'cover art reveals' or anything like that (that's not really our bag anyway), but we will try to have more posts like this one or this one, where we can dig up interesting stories and fun-facts.
Comic book sites and illustration sites do this very well already: Sarah McIntyre and Rob Davis have an anecdotes and stories about every sketch. Not just about the production process, but about what each piece is about and what it means to them.
3. Reviews of new and old books are welcome. This seems pretty obvious, but it does fly in the face of book blogging's notorious 'front-list bias'. We did get a few comments about the 'nostalgic' tone of the recent series, but we also received an comments from readers talking about how much they preferred the older titles.
For us, this comes as a bit of a relief. As we're about to start receiving submissions for The Kitschies, we're a little wary about talking too much about recent titles. We're not going to stop reviewing new books entirely (that's the perk of being individuals on a panel, after all), but it is good to know that we can step back a little.
Three very different sites with a good balance of new and old: Strange Horizons, Fantasy Faction and the AV Club. And Justin Landon's "If you liked..." series is an innovative way of provoking conversation about front- and back-list books simultaneously.
4. Event logistics are really important. Worlds of Tomorrow was organised by the Society of Authors, so we can't take credit for the event itself (shame, as people really liked it), but there was lots of good feedback for the earlier events as well, especially regarding sound and seating. Overall, everyone seems really happy with the guests and the various formats... unless they can't hear anything. Thanks to everyone that flagged this up.
The event we've been to lately that we admire most was, hands down, The Event - an apocalyptically-themed mixture of speakers, panels and entertainment (organised by @FinalBullet). We're really impressed by how it was hosted, promoted and run - not to mention the wonderfully eclectic mix of content and the entire tone of the occasion.
5. We should get out of London. This was meant positively, we hope. We'd love to do something where we can meet friends and authors who live in other cities, so we've started poking around. Nottingham and Oxford are the two front-runners right now, but it is very early days. It is probably worth noting that we're London-based enthusiasts with day jobs, so this may take a while to sort out.
If anyone knows any examples of good event spaces (pubs, bars or awesome bookshops) in those two cities, let us know.
6. And the next event topic is... No idea yet. Sorry! Everyone was actually really positive about all the topics we threw out there. The top answer was 'Epic Fantasy' with 72% of respondents, and only 'Superheroes' (26%) did so badly that we'll drop it from consideration.
Fortunately, we've got a little while to think about this (whew). The next event for The Kitschies - scheduled for early September and still sekrit - isn't actually themed: but it is especially tentacular, and that's all we're spilling about it now.
Meanwhile, there are some great events coming up with the Society of Authors, the British Library, London Calling and the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club. See you there.
Thanks for indulging us and helping us out. We're really delighted that people have enjoyed The Kitschies' events (online and in the real world). We have too.
Any other suggestions for events or site changes? Let us know in the comments.