The Priorities of Steampunk

I know, an arrogant title, but I recently splashed out on a SurveyMonkey subscription which means I have access to all sorts of survey loveliness. And I have used it.

My purpose had to do with the promotion of steampunk books (mine in particular). I did one general survey to “people who read”, not specifically Steampunk but I did distribute that survey mostly in the direction of “those who like steampunk”.

That first survey told me many interesting things, and confirmed what we all know instinctively: People want engaging stories containing characters with whom they can identify. As one respondent said “A good story is a good story.”

The trick for authors, of course, is how to create a story with those elements. But this article is not about that.

General things

I will not hide the fact that my main thrust was to determine how important steampunk books are to those who engage with steampunk. Because I write steampunk books.

Now you might get to the end of this article and feel these results do not fit you personally. Well, of course not. You’re an individual with your own opinions and preferences. Every person who answered the survey also had their own views, this is a combination of all the answers. It’s not one individual. It’s not you but it is the combined view of “people who like steampunk”.

I did not want to become judgemental (something I excel at) so I crafted the questions to be as balanced as I could. Not that I didn’t make mistakes but thankfully nothing too awful.

It’s easy to play with stats so I kept it as simple as possible.


There were a total of 75 respondents, not everyone answered every question but that’s normal.

I started with basic demographic information (as you do), gender identity (43% male, 52% female) and age (a bell curve with 68% in the 35–55 range). Entirely expected.

On being steampunk

So the first question was to establish just how steampunk each respondent is.

You can’t see the questions clearly but they are:

I live steampunk all the time
I am socially steampunk
I do the steampunk thing on special occasions
I’m steampunk-curious
I think dressing up is silly.

Just 1 person in that last category, but it proves we’re inclusive.

We can safely say that 65% of respondents are your actual “get into costume” steampunks. So that’s good for my overall survey.

The next question was about attendance at steampunk events and is self-explanatory. The one you can’t read in full is “I have but don’t plan to go to any more”. This was an important question because I based a lot of my later graphs on it.

57% of respondents are in the “go to events category”

Quite what’s going on with the three people who apparently didn’t like the steampunk event experience I don’t really know.

But perhaps that’s because I’ve been dressing up in public for the last 35 years at least. So it’s not something I worry about.

The Meat

Completely arbitrarily I choose various aspects of Steampunk, and asked the respondents to rate them in terms of importance to Steampunk as a whole.

I almost feel bad about this. I mean steampunk music is not a “genre” of music, it’s more of an attitude, and choice of lyrics.

From the chap-hop of “Prof Elemental” to the punk of “The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing” and everything in between, I love the eclectic mix. But it got the lowest score.

I was surprised that the Art and Imagery came out on top but naturally I was rather pleased that Books came in second.

I’m not going to bore you with lots of variations and filters here but, unsurprisingly, if we only look at those people who go to 1, 2 or 3 events per year Imagery stays in first place but Books drops to fourth place just behind Costumes and Making. And if you add in the people who go to more than three events then Events becomes very important. As I said, unsurprising.

For the next question, though, I decided to force people to make an absolute decision as to the importance of these subjects. As someone pointed out I had only five choices (most to least important) for six items. I could claim it was deliberate. Anyway it meant the respondents had to leave one out, which effectively makes it their least important item. So that works. (Phew.)

After the results of the previous question it would be easy to assume you know what the split is going to be, but I think you might be surprised:

Okay. This first graph is from every respondent.

For Books the percentages started at the highest of all for “Most important” and then dropped off.

For all the others their percentages followed a more bell-like curve going up to the middle ranges and dropping off. Except, sadly, Music which curved in almost direct opposition. (I’m still sad about that.)

But what happens if we select the people who go to 1, 2 or 3 events per year?

Unsurprisingly Events and making Stuff have received a boost (even though 25% still think Events are the least important, unfortunately that’s nothing to Music’s 73%).

Although the sample is now smaller (obviously) the percentages for Books follow the same pattern as before and that’s why it remains numero uno, and with exactly the same score.

I didn’t expect that.

And finally let’s add that final category of people who go to lots of events every year. There are 20 of them so it should make a big difference.

Okay, along with the surprise I was also a bit smug.

Once again Books follows the same pattern in the percentages, of being the most important for most people, dropping off steadily.

Interestingly Events has a fairly even percentage. Music got a last minute boost with more people thinking it was the most important item (yay). It was Imagery that lost out here.


Well I’m not going to interpret the results. The survey answered the question I asked. And I have presented those results.

It’s possible to spend hours playing with filters (what did those who identify as female like in comparison to those who identify as male?) but in the end it doesn’t really matter.

I got what I wanted in more ways than one.

“Be splendid to one another.”