Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why do you read true-crime books?

Who reads true crime books?

That's a pretty important question to true-crime authors (and their editors), who should know their audiences intimately. But what do we really know about the typical true-crime reader?

Well, the one of most startling facts to me is that the typical true-crime reader is a woman. What, you thought bloody crime stories were only male territory? I did ... until I wrote one. In fact, the number of female true-crime readers is said to exceed the 60% of general female readership of all books (although probably somewhat less than the 99% female readership of romances.)

The numbers hold true in reader responses about my true crime/memoir FALL. Easily 2 of every 3 letter-writers and readers at a signing or other book events are women. True, it's a story about a crime against two young women, randomly chosen and brutally terrorized by a couple of male thugs ... talk about most women's worst nightmare. But I never saw it as a "women's book." Why are women drawn in greater numbers to such stories?

"I know I am in the right career when I hear from women who feel their lives have been saved by something they read in one of my books," true-crime queen Ann Rule says.

Somebody has probably studied this phenomenon, but I'd prefer to hear from real readers -- especially women -- why they are drawn to true-crime stories.

So ... why do you read true-crime? What fascinates you about the genre?