Over Christmas the topic of author safety came up. When one writer mentioned disturbing experiences with safety issues and personal data, several others then joined in. Some of the stories were harrowing, and while most fans are not a problem, some of the group had come close to reliving Misery in their own lives.

Asking informally among other groups after that meeting, this behaviour seemed a lot wider spread than we had known. Among one writer’s group we worked with, every member had been subjected to harassment, and more concerningly no one had said anything because they all thought they were the only one.

To find out exactly how widespread the issue is, we’re running an informal anonymous survey. If you have not experienced problems, your views are still welcome as we are trying to detect trends.

We’ve asked a few writers’ groups to get involved, and most of them have been interested in the survey and the results. While this problem has been investigated before, like the Bookseller (388 respondents) and PenAmerica (230 respondents) surveys in 2017, each of these focused on trade professionals who had experienced problems. Neither of these surveys focused on how widespread this problem is, or included indie and amateur writers.

This is anonymous, and we don’t capture identifiable data. We’re a book club, not a survey team, so we’ve probably missed several important questions, but it is a place to start investigating this.

We’re putting results up at the end of March as percentages, since we’re just after the trends. If any author’s group wants to follow up on this, it should give them a starting point for discussion.

To take the survey, please click here:

Author Safety Survey

(It does put one cookie on your machine that just says that the survey was taken and should expire when the survey closes. It does not link to results.)


The survey has been live for 24 hours at the time of writing. The number of responses exceeded expectations and certain trends are already emerging. It seems there are a sizeable proportion of authors who thought they were the only ones.

For those encountering this problem, here are two helpful links:

Society of Authors: Online Abuse Harassment and Bullying

PenAmerica: Online Harassment Field Manual

They are also available at the end of the survey.

Go to Author Safety Survey