A writer says she was "dumped on from a great height" by the literary establishment, after penning a report on why people are not reading New Zealand fiction.

Catherine Robertson had hoped a Book Council report on reader attitudes that she co-authored with writer Paula Morris would get people thinking about why they weren't reading Kiwi fiction.

"We were excited to see what kind of response it would get," Robertson said.

What happened instead, in her own words, was a "s**t storm."

Media "latched on" to the doom and gloom angle of 75 per cent of survey participants finding New Zealand fiction "dark", "grim", "depressing", "gloomy", "overrated" and "boring", but struggling to say why, Robertson said.

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Critics of the report took to the internet, calling the work a "big pile of anecdotes" and saying the council was failing at its role of promoting New Zealand literature.

Others took to social media; after several tweets critiquing the report, Victoria University press publisher Fergus Barrowman told the Herald on Sunday he thought the survey didn't have anything new or useful to say.

Romance writer Brynn Kelly tweeted she thought the problem was that "mainstream and genre writers are largely ignored by media, festivals, etc. [and] readers aren't aware of diversity."

New York Times bestselling author, New Zealander Nalini Singh, writer of wildly popular paranormal romance series agreed, saying she thought New Zealand fiction was narrowly defined.

Robertson said the overall reaction left her feeling depressed and beleaguered.

Writer Catherine Robertson
Writer Catherine Robertson

"We wanted to shed a little light on the barriers that might prevent readers enjoying terrific New Zealand books, of all genres.

"We wanted to get people thinking about the opportunities for raising awareness and creating more enthusiastic advocates for our work."

She said many of the people who criticised the report had not actually read it.

The Book Council's chief executive, Catriona Ferguson said she was happy that the report hit a chord.

"We're delighted that it's got the discussion out there.

"There is so much talent that gets overlooked for some reason," Ferguson said.

Ferguson said to combat the problem, the council was looking at advertising and marketing campaigns. Advocates also needed to be used to push Kiwi fiction, she said.

But not all Kiwi fiction misses the mark.

Eleanor Catton's Man Booker prize winning The Luminaries is on Neilsen Bookscan's list of the top 10 most sold books in the country since 2009 - coming in at sixth place.

Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries sold well in New Zealand.
Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries sold well in New Zealand.

The list is topped by Fifty Shades of Grey, followed by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo .

Ferguson said the overseas acknowledgement and prestige of the Booker Prize undoubtedly helped The Luminiaries.