Ken Schneyer conducted an online survey of writers’ and non-writers’ reading habits to test Stephen King’s hypothesis that too often the audience for short fiction “happens to consist of other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines (and The New Yorker, of course, the holy grail of the young fiction writer) not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there.”
Ken found that writers and non-writers read novels at roughly the same frequency, but writers tended to read short fiction more often than non-writers.
But what’s really interesting is the difference among writers: while 56 percent of short-story writers reported reading short fiction daily to a few times a week, only 10 percent of novellists did so — to quote Ken, “novel writers read short fiction even less frequently than nonwriters do.”
Maybe King is right, and short story publications are largely supported by people trying to publish in them — or maybe, as Ada Hoffmann argued in Ken’s comments, the people who choose to write short stories do so simply because they love reading them.
Previously: Science Fiction Magazines and Aspiring Writers.