Quick informal poll


Just curious…  Where did you first hear about my books?

I’ve asked this question on Twitter, so if you answered it there, don’t feel you have to answer again… but if you did, and want to elaborate beyond Twitter’s character limit, feel free!

I’m just trying to get a sense of what is my most effective method of reaching new readers.  You were once a new reader, so you’ve got the scoop!

I’ve set the website so that you can answer with complete anonymity.  The reply form will ask you for your name and email, but you can leave those spaces blank, and your reply will get posted regardless.

Or you can make up an entirely new name!  My website will not judge you.

Just click below, where it says “# comments” or “Leave a reply”.

79 Responses to “Quick informal poll”

  • An anonymous personage Says:

    Hey, it’s me! I’m just testing the anonymous posting feature.

    Seems to work.

    Back to you.

  • Sean Fagan Says:

    I believe via James Nicoll on usenet. That was back before The Language of Power was published, so I’m not positive.

  • Tucker McKinnon Says:

    It was through either Jo Walton’s reread post(s?) on tor.com, or Andrew Plotkin’s booklog. Most likely Jo, with a “yes i should bump this up in the queue” from Zarf.

  • Beth Says:

    I picked up the second book at random at either the library or a used book store. It was great, so I went back for the first. Years later I found you had written more. Now I have pretty editions, and I’m leaving them out for my fifteen year old.

    I don’t think this helps you from a marketing perspective, sorry. Although I know at least three other people who can say “this Beth person recommended them to me.”

  • Aster Says:

    Another “picked it up used somewhere” convert! Picked it up completely cold, iirc!

  • Anonymous Says:

    A post on Ask Metafilter asking for recommendations for sci-fi books with female main characters in non-sexist worlds (ie, not books where the main character has to prove herself capable against a society that believes her incapable because of her gender).

  • Nick Fagerlund Says:

    Must have been through Jo Walton’s tor.com post about them.

  • charles Says:

    Heard about them from Anita Sarkeesian’s website. http://www.feministfrequency.com/resources/

  • Carol Says:

    Jo Walton on tor.com

  • Ian Humphrey Says:

    I think it was on the read list at Eagles over the Kennebec ( rolanni@livejournal.com)

  • bawa Says:

    I found it via Piaw’s Blog although he didn’t like aspects of the book which in my opinion were wholly unfounded, the story somehow drew me.
    Could only find the print of the first 2 together, then found 3 & 4 second-hand after waiting some time.
    Now have all the ebooks of course, but I do like the printed editions: they are real keepers.
    Have reread them several times and each time discover things I had overlooked in earlier readings.

  • Mike Kozlowski Says:

    I bought the second one as a Del Rey Discovery book, then discovered it was a second book (and honestly didn’t care for a lot of the other books in that line I read), so let it sit on my shelf unread for many years. Then in the ’90s, everyone was raving about them on Usenet, so they went on my “to buy when reprinted” list (I had a thing about used books); so when they eventually did get reprinted in 2003(?), I picked them up and read them.

    This is probably not a replicable approach…

  • Chessa Says:

    I think (but I’m not 100% sure) that I found it by doing a search for “feminist science fiction.” It’s my favorite subgenre!

  • Kalessin Says:

    I found the first one in the library (in German translation, as I’m in Germany), they had books 1, 2 and 4, so I had to buy 3 to read it.
    I remember that the concept of someone always speaking the truth and seeking knowledge drew me in.

    Bought the english ones later, and then the ebooks. But that was when I was already reading your blog.

  • Ita Says:

    It was at least 10 years ago, but IIRC, your books were recommended by someone on RRA-L (Romance Readers Anonymous Listserv which is now defunct – there’s a yahoo group but it’s not the same). They members of RRA read don’t just read romances. I discovered Bujold and Sayers through them.

  • Nicole Says:

    As I was only four when Steerswoman first came out, I encountered your books on my mother’s bookself about ten years ago. I’m sure she found the books when they first came out and were on her local bookstore’s shelves. She’s always perusing the new releases of Sci-fi/fantasy at the bookstore, and I’m pretty sure she came across almost all her books that way.

    I purchased the more recent releases off of amazon “for her.” (I.e. so I could read them after her.) We both love your series and are waiting for the next installment!

  • Konrad Says:

    Heard about it on Usenet around the time the first omnibus came out.

  • Mary Aileen Says:

    I first heard about them via a review in Locus way-back-when. (I think it was when The Steerswoman first came out, but I wouldn’t swear to it.) It didn’t quite sound like my kind of thing at the time, so I passed it by. Fast-forward a whole bunch of years, to when I kept seeing people on Live Journal–people whose taste I trusted–jonesing for the next one. I was finally intrigued enough to pick up The Steerswoman right about the time The Language of Power came out. Now I’m one of those people jonesing for the next one.

  • mildred_of_midgard Says:

    My university bookstore (University of Arizona) had a copy of The Language of Power when I was browsing the shelves in 2005. “Language” jumped out at me because I was majoring in linguistics. The book fell open to the scene where Rowan and Willam are figuring out the patterns of the dragons’ behavior and working out a common idiom to exchange knowledge. When I realized the language of power was mathematics, I was hooked, because I was also a math major! I then proceeded to read the series in reverse order once I realized there were previous books.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Found books 1, 2, and 4 at the library. Loved them, and looked FOREVER for book 3.

  • Jason H Says:

    Friends recommended and loaned first book. Life happens and they’re no longer friends. For that you are not responsible, and we remain huge fans of you! Sometimes bad people have great taste in authors…

    My fave books tend to be word of mouth recs. and Amazon likes to rec stuff that’s usually good. Despite their bad negotiating tactics…

  • Anonymous Says:

    Jo Walton on tor.com. My wife and I *love* the books and wish you all the best in writing the next one! We’ll devour it avidly when you’re done.

  • Jenn Says:

    The library!

  • TOS Says:

    One of the blogs I subscribe to is Tor.com. Jo Walton did a post about your Steerswoman books back in 2008 and what she said intrigued me enough to check the first one out from the library. As soon as I finished it, I knew I would want to reread it so I bought that one and the sequels.

  • ProphecyWithEntrailsIsTheNewBlack Says:

    I got them from a friend who gave them the “You have to read these but not too soon before bedtime” recommendation. I didn’t follow that exactly, but was as happy about the next-day bleariness the next day as one can be :<)

  • siriosa Says:

    a spouse started coming to our brunch group, and when she found out i loved sff, she started bringing me stuff she thought i’d like every brunch. so, i guess, good old word-of-mouth. (and i’ve bought all the ebooks, and am looking forward to the rest.)

  • Tremen Says:

    Recommended by friends, though exactly when I definitely don’t recall (my memory claims 1984, but the printing date claims 1989…. so it’s almost certain my memory is at fault (again))

  • Michael Grosberg Says:

    Usenet, RASFW. I must have seen several mentions of it over the years before I finally read it. I can’t remember for sure who or what finally gave me the push to grab a copy, but it might have been James Nicoll (I value his opinions and taste).

  • Anonymous Says:


    lists heaps of good series and their authors

  • rosemary Says:


    lists heaps of good series and their authors. Go those great librarians!

  • TomS Says:

    I probably stumbled across your first book while perusing the SciFi section of a bookstore when it was initially published. I then recommended your series to family and friends. So, word of mouth is frequently the best advertising you can not-buy.

    Your article in which you talk about the surprise of finding a piece of trash on the beach, and the idea of a paradigm shift offers a really good motivator for someone who likes science to become intrigued. Is that readily discoverable, like on your website, here?

    One issue is that at first glance they look like fantasy, which steers some hard-core SF fans away. Of course, that first paradigm shift is one of the most charming things.

    Word-of-mouth networks can snowball when a well-known or “thought-leader” individual mentions your book. For example, Paul Krugman introduced me to Iain Banks, and surely boosted sales of is books.

  • Elyse Grasso Says:

    Usenet for me (haven’t looked at Usenet in several year years}

  • Anonymous Says:


    A great list of women SF and fantasy writers, since she lists a lot of authors that I like, and the the description and cover she had on the site looked interesting I read a sample of the first book on amazon (and then bought it at kobo since the price with a coupon made it worth taking a risk on). I just bought the second book and am starting on that now

  • Charlie Russel Says:

    Bookstore shelf, looked interesting, decided to give a try. The modern day equivalent of Amazon suggestions.

  • Paul A. Says:

    Word of mouth somewhere on the internet some time in the late 1990s/early 2000s. If I had to guess, I’d say it was most likely RASFW on Usenet.

  • Lindig Says:

    I ran a used bookstore (1990-2005) so I’m pretty sure someone brought the first one in when I was buying books one day. Hmmm, I said. Loved it. So now I have the first two in paperback (both used), and the next two in trade paper (bought new). And I’ll be buying new from now on. I’m thinking about buying the #1-2 trade version and then I can gift the paperbacks to some deserving soul.

  • Rehj Cantrell Says:

    I picked up The Steerswoman’s Road in the library, and I loved how sensibly the woman on the cover was dressed! That’s also how I discovered Laurie Marks.

  • Cat Dancer Says:

    Saw Outskirter’s Secret in a bookstore and the cover attracted me because it showed a female protagonist and a mix of medieval and computer elements. How intriguing! I like cover art that shows a scene from the book.

  • Merriman Hunter Says:

    Similar to Cat Dancer, except that i was working in the bookshop; a second-hand place. I needed something new and so i bumped my index finger along the spine of each book in the sci-fi section looking for women’s names (one-in-fifty, for second-hand?). I got lucky, and Outskirter’s Secret was there. A few days later i was standing in the very loud inter-carriage space of an over-crowded regional train, dark rainy night outside, asian metal playing loudly in my earphones as the perfect accompaniment to Bel & Rowan swinging swords desperately in the outskirts. One of the best, most enthralling reading moments of my life. You should def. put 春秋 in the soundtrack for that movie!

    BTW did you know that Feminist Frequency (Anita Sarkeesian) lists ‘The Steerswoman’s Road’ at the top of her list of novels in the Resources page of her site? High praise! The excellent Joan Slonczewski is there, too.

  • Brigit Says:

    I saw _The Steerswoman_ on a library shelf (in Germany) when I was looking for SF/F by female authors, long before the Internet even existed. I think it was the british edition (it had this cover: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5296499-the-steerswoman ). It was a few years later that I found out that there was a sequel, and later still before I found a bookstore that could order books from the US.
    Whew, book-buying surely has become easier since then…

  • lu Says:

    I’m another who followed Jo Walton’s Tor recommendation. Love ’em! Thanks.

  • Brigit Says:

    Forgot to mention that they are among the first titles I’ll recommend when someone asks about feminist SF/F or female authors.

  • cofax Says:

    I think it was from Coffeeandink on Livejournal who recommended them first.

  • Anonymous Says:

    One of my close friends basically introduced herself to me with, “you seem to like quality science fiction. This is The Steerswoman. Let me know when you need the sequel.”

  • Anonymous Says:

    I was doing a general Google search for strong female fantasy characters and fantasy books without rape. I ran into blog posts and forums referring to your books and decided to give them a shot. 🙂

  • Anonymous Says:

    My librarian gave the first one to me years back and told me I’d love it. She was right. I read them first from the library, then went out and bought them so I’d have ’em handy to re-read.

  • Crafty Witch Says:

    Borrowed them from housemate.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I learned about the early books from a list of feminist/female-centric science fiction, but couldn’t find them (this was ca. 2000). Then, when your third book was printed, it was highlighted in my local sff bookstore. I bought it, and then looked for (and found) a used copy of the omnibus first two volumes on the same bookstore’s used shelves so that I could begin the series at the beginning…

  • Chris Says:

    Recommended by a mate and loved them!

  • Paul M Says:

    Got The Outskirter’s Secret at Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis the week it came out. Had them watch for a used copy of The Steerswoman for me as soon as I finished, which (if I remember right from back in the day) took around 3 months to come through.