Who Are You?
I had to attend the UCF Book Festival yesterday, even though all I really wanted to do was work on City of Light. But I had a good time, and we had a lot of fun at the fantasy panel, so I don't regret it.
However, one of the most common questions I got was about the gender of my reader-base. People kept asking me who read my books, or telling me which gender should like my books.
As I dodged those questions like it was gym class, I started to realize: I don't even know.
One of my personal philosophies is that you need to aim at a specific target audience when you're writing, so I know exactly the sort of person I was aiming to hit when I wrote the Traveler's Gate Trilogy. But who actually read and liked the books?
So I started thinking. How do I talk to people who read and liked the books?
And here you are. So, if you would, could you tell me who you are? This is solely for the purpose of allowing me to answer this question, and will not affect my future writing (in case that worried you, for some reason). Also, I think it's an interesting question to know.
All that said, the poll:
4/6/2014 03:24:37 am
You sir, are heartless. It would be fascinating to study your circulatory system. I have been refreshing your blog page multiple times a day, hoping for the news that you have uploaded COL, or at least provided cover art, but instead you seek to reduce me statistic.
4/6/2014 03:30:40 am
Not you, April. You alone remain above this cold, calculating poll system.
4/6/2014 12:29:48 pm
Hey, I wanna be above this pole too!
4/6/2014 04:52:04 am
To quote Dan Wells (the handsome Wells brother) "Make the art that you want to make, but make it good enough that other people want to read it."
4/6/2014 05:29:34 am
To paraphrase Leslie Nielsen: "You want to get noticed? Get so good they can't ignore you."
4/6/2014 12:41:43 pm
But if you wanted it to be a western no one should be able to stop you haha. Gunsword?
4/9/2014 12:22:30 am
You should be called Will notWight because either a rather ravenous piece of furniture has made you into a man sizes snack or you enjoy watching your loyal subjects suffer in bookless despair. Seriously I check amazon and your blog three times a day just waiting for City Of Light to come out. I'm desperate man!
4/9/2014 03:13:40 am
I have no idea what you're talking about, Cody, but there's one thing I can answer: City of Light is coming very soon! I'm trying to upload it tonight, so it should be available tomorrow.
4/6/2014 05:33:57 am
If you write for yourself you're really doing the same thing, by the way. It's just that the reader you're aiming for looks exactly like you.
4/7/2014 11:28:41 am
I've had no training in writing, but when I do write... I always hablo espanol.
4/6/2014 05:54:52 am
William "The Dominator" Wight, how dare you question the authenticity of your readers based on their gender! For shame you insolent fool!
4/6/2014 05:59:00 am
Authenticity? If you read the book(s), then you're an 'authentic' reader. I don't care if you're a twelve-gendered octopus from another dimension.
4/6/2014 06:06:53 am
When you go to PAX, promise me you will find Jerma. Just find him, take a picture, get an autograph, something. Look him up on youtube, watch his shenanigans.
4/6/2014 06:13:33 am
How do you know Ralph? He, she, she, she, he, he, she, he, she, he, he, she usually does not reveal him/herself to mortals...
4/6/2014 03:20:36 pm
Out of curiosity, how would one mark oneself as a twelve-gendered octopus from another dimension? Because I really would prefer to answer.
4/6/2014 06:13:01 am
From what I have seen in all of the books I've read authors seem to write more along the lines of what they like to read themselves. Men seem to gravitate more towards action oriented sci fi and fantasy. Women on the other hand seem to favor romance.
4/6/2014 09:02:30 pm
That is the current perception of male authors and female authors, Bryce. In recent years, a lot of people have begun questioning that division, and I want to make sure that I don't create an atmosphere suggesting that women 'can't' or 'shouldn't' be reading my books. Not even implicitly.
4/7/2014 07:44:28 am
Just for the record (and this is coming from a girl AND a licensed psychologist who just so happens to love your books)...I don't think you've created that kind of atmosphere at all. I think your books are very accessible to all readers, regardless of gender, and that there's something to love in the story even if you're not the world's biggest action fan. :)
4/7/2014 09:20:19 am
Thanks, Madam Slip. I also didn't think that I'd created any sort of gendered atmosphere, beyond whatever automatically happens when I'm a guy writing primarily from a guy's point-of-view, but I'd like to be sensitive to these sorts of things. I certainly don't want to shut the door in the faces of any women who might want to read the books.
4/7/2014 01:26:03 pm
FreudianSlip: I am so excited to read your comments. I feel the same way and it is really nice to see evidence of more women like me. Love the Sci Fi/fantasy and also a gamer. Here's to awesome somewhat strange examples of the female species!!! :)
4/6/2014 06:13:58 am
4/6/2014 09:02:56 pm
I GET IT
4/6/2014 06:47:26 am
So leaving aside all the other stuff, is the deadline of April 10 for COL still relevant? I only ask because I just finished Lightning Wastes and the teaser story with Simon and Leah really made me impatient to read the third installment.
4/6/2014 10:20:54 am
Seriously I'm scared that it won't come out before the 10th :O! And I totally agree with star on the simon Leah teaser, makes for an impatient reader.
4/6/2014 09:04:20 pm
I'm in the same boat, you two. I want this book to be released just as bad as you do.
4/6/2014 11:09:18 am
I will definitely be refreshing the blog to see what all the results are! I would have assumed that the majority of your readers, Mr. Wight, are masculine, due to the action/sci-fi content of your books. That being said, as on of your female enthusiasts, I have to say that I am more interested in the story line, regardless of the genre. I like good stories, whether it is romance, sci-fi, mystery, etc. I think I may have mentioned it a few (hundred) times, but I am hardly able to wait for CoL! I am only able to console myself with the very feeble hope that my pain will soon be at an end! Bring on CoL! f
4/6/2014 09:05:45 pm
That's how I feel too, Shiloh. If it's a really good story, I don't care who the author or main character are.
4/6/2014 11:36:21 am
I must say that I love your books!! I am a woman but I dont think that attributes to wether one would like your books or not. I was intrigued from the moment I read the synopsis and I will be forever hooked. I am pretty sure it didn't mention romance or a sexy guy either( yeah Bryce that was for you) :) I love the storyline, which is a must have. I do enjoy a little romance, but i also love the action. You write in a great way that makes the fighting scenes easy to track and picture even with so many characters. Keep up the good work!!
4/6/2014 11:51:32 am
Oh and side note, love your sense of humor. Between Simon's snarky sarcasm, Kai, and the dolls, I have to say it is one of the few series that keeps me on the edge and makes me laugh out loud. Great stuff!!
4/6/2014 08:35:31 pm
That's the funny thing: I pick books the same way. If the concept sounds interesting, I'll give it a shot. The gender of the author and/or main character plays absolutely no role in whether I'll pick up a book or not, and I was somewhat curious about whether that was true for others.
4/7/2014 02:54:04 am
Kindred spirit :) I am glad the beta readers said that. Now I am even more excited for CoL!! ..... Now stop procrastinating!! :)
4/6/2014 12:34:00 pm
I am a man. I have the parts in my wife's handbag to prove it. I like action oriented anime, I adore narrative driven table-top RP's - reading your books was like coming home for me. As natural a fit as women's skin on Buffalo Bill. Now. . .It releases the book before the tenth or else it gets the hose again.
4/6/2014 09:06:13 pm
Lower me a phone or the dog gets it!
4/6/2014 01:52:29 pm
I am a woman. I read much too fast for my own good (WoR in 11 hours! Yay!) which means that while I prefer long fantasy books, I tend to end up reading anything I can get my hands on out of boredom in between fantasy book releases.
4/6/2014 08:37:53 pm
Yeah, out of curiosity, I tried to see what the poll was like on my phone. It was not convenient.
4/7/2014 03:53:51 am
The majority of them are horrible, written by people who think an inability to spell and an inability to write a believable character are acceptable flaws, as long as their characters have shiny wings. And unfortunately, there are many people who actually think those books are good. I recently gave a book on Amazon the lowest rating possible and a scathing review. Other comments included "great!" and it was absolutely not a great book. It had numerous typos and plot flaws, and characters with no redeeming qualities who were treated like glorious, women-worship-them-for-no-reason men. Which made no sense.
4/7/2014 04:24:49 am
You know, a lot of people would say that the Traveler's Gate Trilogy belongs in that exact category that you just described.
4/7/2014 04:55:43 am
Will, I don't know how to break this to you.....a lot of people are idiots
4/7/2014 09:21:17 am
Jason, I wish this was Facebook, so that I could like your comment.
4/6/2014 03:02:22 pm
While I understand the need to do final edits and the like on the book, I am getting to the point where I would wrestle Benson for the book.
4/6/2014 09:06:38 pm
Man, Sean, you SHOULD wrestle Benson for it. You might get super-strength out of the deal.
4/6/2014 07:14:10 pm
What if I haven't progressed far enough into embryological development to begin secreting anti-mullerian hormone?
4/6/2014 08:55:55 pm
I get that question often, fetus, and if that's the case you should send me an email. You'll be exempted from this poll, and then I can have City of Light dissolved into a solution that will be injected into the womb so that you can enjoy it before your photoreceptors are fully developed.
4/6/2014 08:27:55 pm
I find it interesting that you posted this because in reading your past blogs I've noticed the commenters are usually male. To add to your research I'm 33, have a 14 year old daughter and I live in Nome, Alaska. I also play LoL, much to the chagrin of my daughter. She's good enough to be on a sponsored team but finds my attempts to be rather eye roll worthy.
4/6/2014 08:53:48 pm
I have it on good authority that I'm so bad at LoL I should be banned from the game, and then have Riot employees personally show up at my house and kick me until I swear never to play again.
4/6/2014 11:37:30 pm
I'm a woman. TBH I usually prefer male mains because author's tend to make female ones have fall down hysterics/weakness moments (that ruin their image) males just don't have to deal with. So if targeting female readers means female mains... I don't believe it. Also I can't believe the poll ratio!
4/7/2014 06:36:33 am
One thing to consider though, is that you might get quite an uneven sampling of your readers through a poll on your website.
4/8/2014 03:50:43 am
They give me no information about who's buying my books at all. I get a crude notion of what country they're in when they buy the books, because I know whether they bought them on Amazon.com vs. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.co.jp, etc. That's it, though.
4/8/2014 03:14:20 pm
Oh trust me, I don't feel neglected! Personally, I downloaded your book simply because the title sounded kick-ass. I was looking for something new to read after finishing Hough Howey's "Sand" books and for some reason "House of Blades" just did it for me. But, I grew up in rural Alaska with 3 brothers and a house full of guns, knives, and hunting talk so I tend to gravitate to anything that might fit that bill while also meeting my craving for sci-fi/fantasy. While the title is accurate to the book, it is not necessarily one that is going to draw in the female reader.
4/6/2014 08:54:21 pm
Man, that was a long response. Sorry for the wall-o-text. Can you tell I'm procrastinating?
4/8/2014 03:17:16 pm
That's ok; though I think I deserve some sort of reward for receiving the longest reply ever.
4/9/2014 03:23:52 am
All that is perfectly reasonable, and you certainly have to work with what you have.
I wanted to give this some thought overnight before I answered. I agree with what some have writen that you should write what you love. It's kind of like feeling the love through a chefs food, you either can or you can't. I feel the fact that you enjoy writing these books through the story. In saying that, if I was in your position, I don't know that I would want to know my reading base. If I were to know that a very large portion was male 18-30 I might start trying to gravitate towards more stories that would keep the readers in that group happy. In doing so you might lose the feel of your books thus losing the women or the older males. I have followed authors that seem to do this, or at least don't love writing anymore and just do it to pay the bills which isn't a bad thing. As I have writen before, you are easily one of my top 3 favorite authors, and don't want to see happen to your writing what I have seen other authors do, going through the motions and all that. That being said I am a male 34 with a plethora of kids, the majority being little girls that love to dress up their barbies, like glitter, and try to put make-up on me as often as possible (they have resorted to guerrilla tactics to catch me off guard and have gotten me multiple times when I lose myself in your books too deeply...I blame you).
4/7/2014 02:50:00 am
I totally agree with Chris! People read the books because they like them the way they are. If you focus too much on trying to please everyone you might lose more than gain. I do appreciate the thought of not wanting to leave female readers out, but I never felt like you were.
4/7/2014 03:09:00 am
Zelda: I never felt like I was either...but, you know, it's always good to check.
4/7/2014 02:40:36 am
Maybe you only get these results on this poll because us men are just more impatient for the new book and look at the blog more often.
4/7/2014 07:03:40 am
As a woman, I was a bit disappointed to see that more women aren't reading your books (or at least your blog). I've been into sci-fi since middle school, and I especially enjoy books that explore different worlds (alternate history, different planets, dystopian societies) and books with complex systems of science/magic (huge Brandon Sanderson fan). So your books are right in my sweet spot! I also got my SO into them, including all the short story collections :-)
4/7/2014 09:17:46 am
I was both disappointed and surprised by the results, Sarah. Seriously, going by the blog comments and fanmail I get, I was expecting 60/40 in favor of guys. Which would be, you know, pretty reasonable for a series written by a guy with a male main character. I wasn't expecting 90/10.
4/7/2014 09:46:28 am
The results really shocked me. I figured there would be more men than women reading your books (which is why i did get scared you'd change your writing based on the results) but I had no idea they would out numbered us like that. I tend to like books with unique concepts. Like how in your book it was about the other guy. I fell in love with it after Simon got the Nye essence. The slow motion scenes are the best, it's so cool seeing what's going on in his frame of reference than just reading about how swiftly he moved about.
4/8/2014 03:56:08 am
I knew people would worry (that I might write differently based on the results), but I'm not even sure what application these results would have to my writing style. All this tells me is who's enjoying my books NOW, not what aspects of my work they like or how I should change to reach a different audience.
4/7/2014 11:38:18 am
Hey Billy Blanco!
4/8/2014 03:56:42 am
Billy Blanco, that's...that is a new one on me, I have to admit.
4/7/2014 12:18:36 pm
Hmmm... Well, looking at this from a different perspective it would seem to me that due to the genre of the story, the majority of your reading audience is male. However, when you look at comments to the blogs and the emails you mentioned you have received, it seems like it is a much closer split between males and females.
4/8/2014 04:01:17 am
I'm thinking along the same lines you are, Aaron.
4/7/2014 06:40:05 pm
Oh, and by the way...PRETTY PLEASE with sugar on top...can we have CoL out by Friday...? I'll sacrifice a goat if that's what it takes. I've got a 16-hour flight to India coming up Friday morning, which would be a total breeze if I could dive into CoL along the way. By all means, the book will be finished when it is finished, but I'm allowed to hope, aren't I?
4/8/2014 01:27:02 am
As a matter of fact, I myself have a trip on Thursday, so I'm TRYING to start the upload process tomorrow night.
4/8/2014 05:32:11 am
Oh man...! That's AWESOME news! Seriously, that just made my day. You, sir, can add 1x Amulet of Awesome +2 to your inventory, alongside a Haste Scroll and a Potion of Speed just in case that upload decides to be a real troll.
4/8/2014 09:29:14 am
Perfect! I needed an Amulet of Awesome to complete my build.
4/7/2014 11:31:39 pm
I hate you so much you evil master mind. I have been reduced to reading HoB and CV 3 times just to take the edge off. I need CoL. PLEASE! !!
4/8/2014 03:57:22 am
Goooood, goooooood! Your hatred feeds me, and I grow stronger with every re-read!
4/8/2014 04:27:33 am
I read that in the emperors voice.
4/8/2014 04:33:24 am
I feast upon your lost sleep! Embrace the Dark Side, and you will never sleep again!
4/8/2014 08:09:58 am
So . . . is CoL out yet?
4/8/2014 08:43:13 am
Short answer: No
4/8/2014 09:27:28 am
Thank you, Pat.
4/8/2014 08:13:01 am
You know what? I'm worried about CoL. I dont think its ready yet, you should E-mail me what you have so far and let me double check it. :D
4/8/2014 09:27:52 am
You're a cunning guy, Josh, but unfortunately I have all the help I need.
4/8/2014 09:58:16 am
Well damn... Can't blame me for trying. on a completly unrelated notI think it would be really cool to have a map of... I want to say Damasca but I don't think that's right. But that doesn't make my point any less valid. a map of the world, and all of the...I want to say plains...but that's not right either. Man I think I need to re-read the books
4/8/2014 09:10:36 am
hey are you against fan art because i have an idea about some stories that i would like to work on but i hate the idea of you thinking i am stealing your ideas. just to be blunt i have no plans on selling or really letting others see any thing since i have terrible spelling.
4/8/2014 09:26:27 am
I have nothing at all against fan art or fanfiction. In fact, I'd encourage them both...as long as you're not making money from something I created.
4/8/2014 09:26:56 am
dang i messed up on my email i can see all the money i spend on college is doing so much for me. somedays stupid is a natural state of being that even coffee or duck tape cant fix
4/8/2014 03:18:17 pm
i want to expand on an a traveler of tartarus i want him to be more of a scholar than a warrior. but his curiosity is his biggest quality and problem that slings him into danger.
4/8/2014 10:46:20 pm
Hopefully he tapes up a lot of ducks.
4/8/2014 11:12:23 am
I really, really, really, really, really, really hope that in CoL you remembered to add in that scene where Simon and Alin are fighting and all of a sudden ACDC burst out from Naraka herself and starts shredding and playing a ballad for battle.
4/8/2014 02:24:12 pm
hahahahaha That's awesome Hayden! Gotta love it!
4/8/2014 10:47:13 pm
As part of my deal with Facebook, all of my fight scenes are now accompanied by a wicked ACDC soundtrack.
4/8/2014 04:08:22 pm
Holy hell. I have been checking back here every day (even though I'm subscribed your updates) hoping for SOMETHING and now I'm zinging because 10th? So tomorrow? Yes? Good.
4/8/2014 04:08:56 pm
P.s. Also super scared for your trilogy to end, I really love the world you've created. What are your future plans?
4/8/2014 10:51:14 pm
I like a good romantic sub-plot as much as anyone, but I'm not confident in my ability to do it right. And I know that I, personally, would rather have no romance than crappy romance.
4/8/2014 09:52:21 pm
I'm a 24 year old guy. Your books were recommended to me by my 26 year old sister and I'm glad she did.
4/8/2014 10:51:57 pm
See, and I feel guilty because I never learned a programming language. So we both have things to feel guilty about.
4/9/2014 02:29:42 am
It's not whether you're aiming to engender your book or not (which has already been addressed ad nauseum), but what no one seemed to mention is the place that you're trying to sell it. Amazon directs readers as much as possible for the best profit and tries to engender your book for you(unless you put your category as epic fantasy yourself). The only way I even found your book in the first place was by delving as far down the specificity of genres list as possible. It takes a hard core fantasy enthusiast to dredge your tome from the depths of the thousands of titles readily available for the masses. As though it were a diamond in the rough among hundreds of sparkling pebbles. Please take that into account.
4/9/2014 03:12:45 am
That's...certainly true, Sean, and I actually had a conversation about that recently. "You have to sift through a pile of fantasy novels to get to me," I'm pretty sure is how I put it. "I'm comfortable in that pile. I like the pile."
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