Smut writer - and marketing researcher - Amelia Bryant has a bitch about the closure of the Erotica Reader Survey and the lack of community spirit from fellow authors. You've been warned: this post bites!
After what seems an eternity being open, I’ve finally closed the Erotica Reader Survey. I’ve got mixed feelings about this.
Firstly, I’m extremely grateful for the time spent and opinions offered by respondents. You’ve given me some numbers to play with. Thank you – you know who you are. Thank you also to the respondents who did their level best to get fellow smut readers participating. Your efforts are appreciated for sure.
That said, I’m saddened by the lack of enthusiasm shared by the general erotica writing fraternity. This includes smut book forum admins shunting the thread to some obscure part of their empire, as if they didn’t actually want to be involved in it. It also includes smut authors themselves. So much for community spirit.
Now to anyone jumping at the wrong conclusion that Yours Truly is being a spoilt little so-and-so, STOP.
As I’ve near-constantly maintained in forum postings, Twitter, blog posts regarding the Survey, and (if memory serves me correct) the intro and outro survey text, the main findings would be published. That’s right: a professionally designed marketing research survey created, programmed, and analysed for the world (or at least the smut writing / reading community) to see.
Just out of interest, do you know the price tag that would come with that if commissioning this work to an agency or consultant? Well over £5k. So to any detractors out there thinking of taking a pot-shot, forget it.
You’d think that forum matriarchs would have figured it out that there was an intrinsic benefit in promoting the survey. The results would offer a multitude of discussion threads and interaction among members. What’s not to like about that?
Similarly, erotica authors should have realised that by helping promote survey participation, they would have also reaped the benefits of someone – me - doing the hard work and furnishing juicy data and insight for them to capitalise on. It truly was potentially win-win for everyone in a number of ways.
But it wasn’t to be.
The survey was never going to be ‘representative’. Afterall, nobody really knows the market size for smut stories, and secondly, convenience sampling was used. That said, it was hoped that the survey would generate several hundred responses (one thousand or more would have been wonderful) so that whilst not necessarily indicative of the smut reading universe, the number of responses would at least offer good insight on a sizable bunch of smut readers in its own right. That seems to have flown over the heads of authors and forum Mother Hens alike. Dumb Clucks indeed.
Given that erotica authors face many challenges I’d have thought that something which could have helped us all, would have been enthusiastically supported. But there again, if we can’t even help each other, what hope do we have as a community trying to forward the sector and profession? The words ‘piss up’ and ‘brewery’ spring to mind.
It was also costing me money to keep the survey in its full entirety open, to the tune of £25 per month. Since launching it in early 2013 you can do the arithmetic and work out how much that tots up to. Have there been sufficient response numbers to justify this expense? Definitely not.
So what now?
Well, I’ve always promised there’d be findings generated and disseminated. The respondents deserve that at the very least, even if the numbers aren’t great. So look out for some graphs, charts, and words of wisdom in the coming weeks.
The authors can perhaps take a look at the data and ruefully consider whether what they see could have been even more beneficial with more responses. Hindsight’s a bitch, isn’t it? You had your chances over the last 18 or so months.
Once again, thanks to the respondents and to the small number of authors (you know who you are – big kiss to you all) who got involved in it.