Over half (52%) of UK adults believe they have a book in them, reveals new research1 from Type & Tell. The study found one in eight Brits has already written or is currently writing a book (13 per cent), while 39 per cent of people are planning to write one.
The UK is shaping up for a ‘summer of stories’ as more than one in ten (11 per cent) of those intending to write a book says they are planning to start it in the coming months. People have been inspired by authors who started with self-published works, such as Rachel Abbott, whose first three novels sold over a million copies.
The findings reveal science fiction is one of the most popular genres of fiction for budding authors. Fifteen per cent of all those who intend to write a book would like to write a science fiction novel, the same percentage opting for drama and children’s stories.
Mystery (13 per cent); short stories (13 per cent) and crime novels (12 per cent) are the next most popular genres of fiction for would-be authors, followed by fantasy and romance (both 11 per cent).
The research shows that people are still in love with the feel of flicking through the pages of a physical book. Eight in ten (82 per cent) budding authors want to see their words printed on paper, while just over half (58 per cent) would be happy to be published in e-book format.
London is by far the most popular setting specified by writers who know where their fictional work will be set, with particular popularity amongst those writing in the genres of crime, drama and romance. While Devon and Cornwall were regularly named by romance and mystery writers, budding science fiction authors opted for a dystopian Earth more than any other setting.
Ex-colleagues, partners and spouses should beware the wrath of their one-time workmates and other halves. The study suggests that 13 per cent of would-be authors would include a character based on an ex-partner or spouse, 22 per cent would include one based on a current or former colleague, and 20 per cent would base a character on someone they don’t like.
While the most popular choices to base a character on include themselves (36 per cent); friends (36 per cent); family members (30 per cent); and current partners (16 per cent); fledgling novelists also plan to create characters inspired by historical figures (19 per cent); celebrities (9 per cent); and even politicians (10 per cent).
“Storytelling has been central to cultures across the globe through human history,” commented Jon Watt from Type & Tell. “We’ve always told stories and this research illustrates that, despite social media providing platforms for us to express ourselves instantly, the book continues to be the format through which most of us would like to tell our stories. The challenge for most of us is finding the time to do it, having the self-belief to write and getting expert advice to help us on our way. The good news for aspiring authors is that the publishing industry has been democratised in recent years. Anyone who wants to write a book now has a huge opportunity with easy access to platforms that not only help people create their book, but also to publish, print and sell it.”
The findings reveal most people want to write a book simply because they enjoy writing (43 per cent), or they believe they have a good story to tell (41 per cent). One in four (24 per cent) want to leave something for their family to remember them by, while 19 per cent want to share their knowledge on a particular subject.
For those who haven’t previously tried to write and publish a book, a lack of time is cited as the primary reason (54 per cent), followed by a lack of confidence in their ability (39 per cent), not knowing how to go about it (32 per cent) and the need for some expert guidance on writing and editing (23 per cent). Thirteen per cent suggest that it is too difficult to get a publisher to take their book on, while others fear the publisher would take away all control of their story (4 per cent) or take all the profits (2 per cent).
“Many of those who would love to write a book see obstacles in their way, such as a lack of industry know-how or doubts about their ability to secure a publisher,” continued Jon Watt. “Our study found that over half of adults aren’t even aware that self-publishing platforms exist that allow people to create, publish, print and sell books themselves. Many of today’s best-selling authors self-publish and find that it gives them a level of freedom and control over their work, prices and royalties that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
The self-publishing industry has been growing rapidly with sales of self-published e-books accounting for 22 per cent of the digital book market in the UK in 2015, according to Nielsen Book UK, up from 16 per cent in 20142. A 2016 US study suggests there almost four times as many self-published authors who debuted in the past five years now earning over $100,000 a year from their Amazon sales than authors first published with ‘Big Five’ traditional publishers in the same period3.
Many well-known books that were initially self-published have also been turned into Hollywood hits, including EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey; Still Alice, Lisa Genova’s debut novel which was turned into an Oscar-winning movie; Andy Weir’s The Martian, another critically-acclaimed box office success. Indeed, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was originally self-published by Beatrix Potter in 1901 – and now over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold each year.
Notes to Editors:
- Research conducted online by Opinium Research among a sample of 2,004 UK adults between 30th June and 4th July 2017. Sample has been weighted to reflect a nationally representative audience.
- Nielsen Book UK, 2016