When you talk, we listen: member survey

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Many thanks to everyone who completed our annual member surveys earlier this year.

We use the surveys to support and improve the work that we do, develop new project ideas, and make sure our program is responding to the needs of our members and writing community.

Who are our members?

This year, we heard back from 121 members, 55 non-members, 36 former members and 52 students of tertiary writing and editing courses.

Approximately 75% of our members live in Melbourne (with the remaining 25% mostly based in regional Victoria, with a few interstate or overseas). Our largest regional communities can be found in Geelong, Mornington Peninsula, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Mount Alexander.

Approximately 14% of members identify as writers with disability and between 3-7% write in a language other than English, including Italian, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Dutch, German and Scots.

Around 40% of responding members considered themselves ‘early career’ writers, 50% are ‘emerging’ writers, and 8% are ‘established’. The remaining members come from a wide range of literary sector pursuits (mostly editors).

What members value

The surveys highlighted what’s important to our members.

81% of members said that information about writing and publishing they find on our website, enews and in The Victorian Writer magazine continues to be the most important benefit of Writers Victoria membership.

More people are changing their subscription to The Victorian Writer from print to PDF, though it will continue to be produced in both versions. (Feel free to email Francis or Emma if you’d like to update your preferences).

The opportunity for members' creative work to be published in The Victorian Writer magazine (a new initiative in 2014) was also considered valuable. Discounts to WV courses and events are important to 68% of members, as are member events (such as The Salon and our series of industry talks).

What members want

For members, the topic or content of courses is the most important factor when deciding whether to book a workshop.

Most respondents were interested in weekend and weeknight courses. You’d like to learn more about fiction, novels and short stories. Editing is also important, as is publishing, pitching and freelancing, and how to make a living from writing.

The most popular genre was literary fiction, followed by Young Adult, Fictional Memoir, Speculative Fiction, Historical, Science Fiction, Auto/Biography, Crime and Fantasy.

Also of interest to our members is finding out about writing groups, blogging, and literary magazines. Some members are keen to brush up on techniques such as point of view, dialogue, structure and plot (so keep an eye out for our Novel in a Year series starting again next year). Nonfiction, research and memoir also received multiple votes.

Once again, there were many requests for workshops to be held outside of the CBD, throughout greater Melbourne and regional Victoria.

In 2014, we’ve worked hard to extend our work outside the Melbourne CBD and into regional areas. In collaboration with local groups, we have programmed workshops in Clunes, Ballarat, Geelong and Castlemaine.

We hosted our first ever Regional Salon and program launch in collaboration with the National Non-Fiction Festival in Geelong. We have run seminars, chaired panels and hosted info stalls in Airey’s Inlet, Daylesford, Bayside, Bendigo and Bacchus March. Through our small grants program, we have supported activities in Inverloch, Port Fairy, Belgrave, Clunes, Ararat, Geelong, Ballarat and Shepparton. We’ve started selling The Victorian Writer magazine in bookshops across the state (and started publishing more work by regional members within it, through our Regional Members' Writing Comp). And we’ve helped spread the word about many regional literary festivals and events.

We are very keen to continue work in collaboration with outer metropolitan and regional groups to support your activities, be guided about what else would be useful in your areas, and help bring literary events to those communities that may not already have them. So if you have any suggestions for ways we could work together, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We also floated some new project and workshop ideas with you. Of these, finding new ways to connect with other writers seemed to be the most interesting new idea. Members were also interested in a possible anthology of WV member’s writing, online courses where you learn at your own pace, and online workshops with a tutor.

Watch this space

We’ll be using the information provided in these surveys to help shape our services and better meet the demands of writers around Victoria.

Our first 2015 program will be launched at the start of December. Keep an eye on the website for more information coming soon.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to complete the surveys. Our winners will be receiving their prizes soon!