Toasted Cheese Writer Survey

Absolute BlankBy Theryn Fleming (Beaver)

Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer our survey. Our goal was to get to know our readers better and we were very pleased with the number and range of responses.


How old are you?
30-49 (31)
18-29 (18)
50-69 (14)
13-17 (8)
70+ (1)

Where do you live?
North America (63)
Europe (7)
Asia (2)

Is English your first language?
Yes (68)
No (4)

It wasn’t surprising that the majority of our respondents were English-speakers from North America, but it was good to see some of our international readers represented as well. We have had submissions from most continents (not Antarctica, though that would be very cool—any research scientists at the South Pole reading this?) so we know we have a wide reach even if the majority of our readers are “local.”

It was interesting to see that all the age categories were represented. This is something we weren’t sure about but will definitely take into account when planning future articles. We should note we didn’t include the 12-and-under age category on the survey because of COPPA but we do know we have readers in that group as well (see next section).

Background Image: Farrukh/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Background Image: Farrukh/Flickr (CC-by-nc)


If you are a teacher who uses TC in your classes, what level do you teach?
College / University (2)
High School (1)
Adult Education (1)
“My teacher used it. Does that count?”

If you are a teacher, what subject(s) do you teach?
English (4)
Creative Writing (3)
Literature (1)

If you are a teacher, what section/part of TC do you use the most?
“Hard to say; pretty much the whole site.”
“Just refer students here in a general way.”

We’re not going to lie, we’d hoped more teachers would respond to the survey. From our site stats, specifically the number of incoming links from schools and teacher pages, we know that a lot of teachers use TC as a resource and refer students—including preteens who weren’t an age group we originally anticipated using the site—here, and we would love to know more about why you like TC and if there’s anything we could do that would improve the user experience for you. We’ll keep trying to connect.


Which of the following apply to you?
I have a job that’s not writing-related. (29)
I’m a student. (19)
I have a writing-related job. (15)
I’m a stay-at-home parent. (7)
I’m retired. (6)
Other answers: I am self employed. | Teacher/author/reviewer | I write | Former college professor | I write short fiction | My job is writing-intensive, but not writing-related. | Recent college grad, living with parents. | Unemployed.

How much time do you spend writing weekly?
0-10 hours. (31)
10-20 hours. (23)
Less than 40 hours but more than 20. (11)
It’s my full-time job. (5)
Other answers: More than 40 but I write a lot for work. It’s skill practice, but not quite the same as creative fiction. | Binge poetry fiction/creative non.

What genres do you write?
General Fiction (literary, mainstream, etc.) (56)
Supernatural Fiction (scifi, fantasy, horror, etc.) (36)
Flash (31)
Poetry (29)
Creative Nonfiction (20)
Other Nonfiction (essays, articles, etc.) (17)
Mystery (16)
Fan Fiction (9)
Other answers: Historical fiction | Romantic Comedy | Speculative / Borderline | small one or two line pieces to go with a photo series. | Anything TC contests require.

We see that TC has a broad audience, that no single category dominates. We have those who write on their own time to those who write for a living, those who write a little to those who write a lot, and all genres well-represented. On the one hand, that’s really cool; on the other, that doesn’t really help us to narrow down what type of content to focus on! We suppose it’s a sign we should continue what we’re doing, but perhaps add some more niche articles that would appeal to different groups.


Do you write with the intent of publishing your work?
Sometimes (43)
Always (26)
Never (3)

Have you submitted for publication?
Yes, in the last month. (20)
Yes, but not recently. (19)
Yes, in the last year. (15)
No, not yet (but I plan to). (13)
No, I write for myself only. (3)
No, I prefer to self-publish. (2)

How many times do you edit a piece before submitting?
More than 3 but less than 10. (37)
2-3 times. (24)
10+ times. (9)
Once. (2)

Have you had work published?
Yes, a few times. (29)
Not yet. (27)
Yes, many times. (9)
I have self-published. (4)
Other answers: First one in November | Once, but not paid | Poetry Anthologies | I submitted my work to a TC contest. Does that count?

What do you do with your rejection letters?
Keep / save / file / archive them. (29)

“…for motivation to try harder”

“…for reference”

“…to learn from them”

“…as motivation to continue trying”

“…to review them occasionally”

“…in hopes of laughing at them someday!”

“I make notes on things to change, then put them somewhere I cannot find them.”

Throw them away / delete them / ignore them / nothing. (20)

“I make note of reflections in a log, then delete/toss them.”

I have not received any yet. (14)

Depends on contents. (5)

“I collate both good and bad criticisms if written down. If it’s an automatic rejection, I simply delete it from my inbox.”

“I ignore them unless the editor offers constructive comments.”

“It would depend on the contents: save-trash”

“I’ve been ridiculously lucky and haven’t gotten any yet. When I do, I’ll keep them in a file to refer to a) when I’m looking for ways to improve my writing and b) to remind myself that I’m actively trying, putting stuff out there.”

“Read and recycle unless they are particularly encouraging. Then I save them.”

Use as motivation. (4)

“Turn them into motivational posters.”

“Post them on my board next to the positives.”

“Frame them. If I get a personal note.”

“When I receive one, I’ll be happy to frame it.”


We’re thrilled to see how many of our readers are submitting their work and having success at publishing, but don’t worry, we’ll never forget those of you who are just starting out. It also warms our cold editor hearts to see the number of times most of you revise your work before submitting.

It looks like rejection letters could be the subject of its own article—kudos to those of you who find creative ways to turn rejection into motivation. Group hug!


Do you have an email address just for writing-related business?
No, I use my primary email. (51)
Yes. (19)
Other answers: I use my University email. | No.

We’re disappointed no one admitted to using someone else’s email and/or an email with a random name on it, because this happens on a regular basis and we’re so curious as to why! Get your own email people who do this. Everyone else, carry on.

Do you have an online portfolio or writing-related website?
No. (35)
Yes, I have a writing-focused blog. (21)
Yes, I promote my work via social media. (18)
Yes, I have my own website. (13)
Other answers: I also referred people to my publisher to read blurbs on my books | Online writing websites | Kind of. I write on it, about books. | Under construction.

This question had a definite divide. We found it somewhat surprising that nearly half our respondents had no online space for their writing at all, while the other half in most cases had more than one space to share their writing. This could potentially be the subject of a future article.

How do you research markets?
(for submissions) I do my own research by reading a variety of publications. (47)
I use a website (like (25)
I use a resource book (like Writer’s Market). (21)
(for queries) I do my own research by visiting agent and publisher websites. (20)
I’ll worry about that later. “First I must learn to write!” (10)
Word of mouth (5)

“ask friends and colleagues”

“I know several authors and editors well enough to ask them for advice.”

“people’s bios”

“Talk to readers about what they are reading, what they like and don’t like etc.”


If you use a book or website to research markets, which one?
Writer’s Market (19)
Duotrope (7)
Poets and Writers (3) (3)
Poet’s Market (2) (2)
Other books/sites: Novel and Short Story’s Writer’s Market,, The Submission Grinder,, Mslexia,, The Writer magazine,, Writer’s Chronicle, Writer’s Digest, Ralan, Dark Markets,

Google / the internet generally (7)

“I just surf the net for contemporary poets and check out where they’ve already published.”

“I mostly use writer blogs and websites”

Many / Various (6)

“Multiple genre-related sites”

“Depends on the piece”

“Not a specific one…”

None / “What is a market?” (18)

There were so many different responses to these questions. We liked the word-of-mouth responses—we neglected to include that in our options, and obviously connections are an important resource. As well, some of the market resources you use were new to us. We had a couple respondents ask “what is a market?” so it looks likely that markets/market resources will be the subject of a future article.

Props to those of you who are taking the time to focus on developing your writing craft before worrying about submitting.That phase of the writing life is too often undervalued.


Do you participate in writing challenges?
No, challenges aren’t for me. (32)
Yes, NaNoWriMo. (18)
Yes, other writing challenges. (22)

If you answered “other writing challenges” in the question above, which one(s)?
TC contests / Mini-Nano (7)
Other contests/competitions (not specified) (8)
Other: Liberty Hall, On the Premises, StoryADay, WriteChain Challenge, monthly poetry challenges available on Facebook, mostly blogging challenges, school writing challenge, weekly prompt challenges, writers group.

Other responses:

“goals I set for myself”

“I don’t do challenges other than ones I set for myself”

“I don’t understand the question. writing is a challenge.”

“I have done NaNo and some other challenges, which is how I learned they aren’t for me.”

We weren’t surprised to see a divide on the responses to these questions. About half the respondents aren’t interested in writing challenges, while others had many/varied responses. This mirrors the divide we’ve always observed between contest entries and regular submissions, i.e. there is next to no overlap between these two groups of writers. We think it would be fascinating to interview writers on both sides and dig deeper into the differences.


What types of writing articles do you like to read?
Elements of fiction (character, plot, setting, etc.) (53)
Inspiration / Creativity (50)
Business of writing (submitting, querying, etc.) (41)
Author interviews (41)
Anything really / Everything (2)
Other answers: Articles about writer’s spaces and time management. | book reviews | grammar/weak words/transition words and phrases | how to make 3D characters | I don’t.

Apparently you like a bit of everything (except for the person who doesn’t like reading articles about writing at all, lol). Which we guess tells us to continue what we’re doing. And for the person who mentioned book reviews, that article is coming very soon!

Any comments or questions?

How does your payment system work regarding the authors’ work you accept for publication? Is there revenue sharing? Is your magazine distributed in the form of hard copy, digital, or through online publication? —um.

I love the monthly writing prompts and playing with the contest themes. Also, I enjoy messing around in the forums when I have the time and inclination even though I have yet to coax myself into posting something myself. All-in-all, I love your site!! —thank you!

I rarely do surveys, but this was fun! Served to also make me think about where I am writing-wise and what I’m looking for out of writing resources and support materials. Many thanks! —thank you!

I really really appreciate your Twitter presence. Your writing prompts are pretty sweet! —thank you!

I’m at a point where I’m focusing on learning what I think are intermediate skills: how do I approach revising large works (novella, novel), what are the steps to querying agents, when do I get an editor involved, what is the editorial relationship like, and how can I maximize my learning throughout this process? Things like that. I like TC’s writing prompts and fiction contests, and find these useful for practicing the craft. —thank you, and thanks for the suggestions!

Love your site —thank you!

More power to Toasted Cheese this 2015! 🙂 —thank you!

No questions. I just love your site. You guys do great work, and you do it consistently. —thank you!

No success locating an agent. —so… an article on finding an agent perhaps?

Spork. —scuppernong.

This is an unusual quiz, don’t forget about the new authors. —ok!

What the heck is a market? Also, when will you be revealing the DoW 2014 winners? —article on markets, gotcha. Dead of Winter winners are announced January 31; this is in the contest guidelines, ffr.

Thanks again for participating and be sure to check out the A Pen In Each Hand exercise.

Writer Survey

Hey writers! We’re trying to get know our audience—i.e. you—a bit better, so we can make Toasted Cheese even better for you. To that end, we’ve made a little survey and we hope you’ll help us out by taking a few minutes to answer the questions. Thanks so much! Happy Holidays!