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Reader Survey – Part 1

A couple of months ago I asked several authors what questions they have for readers.  I then hit the streets, or well, Facebook, and asked several reader friends from Facebook groups I am apart of to help answer these questions. A great big thank you to Lori, Nicole, Ki, Sherri, Renee, Julie, Brooke, Delene, Linda, Christina and Becky for helping me out on this. Many of these ladies are bloggers and avid readers. Let’s hear what they had to say!

Reader Survey Part 1

How do you learn about new authors?

There was a wide range of answers such as Facebook, Twitter, Reviewers/Bloggers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, publishing houses, word of mouth on social media (especially authors recommending other authors), and NetGalley. The majority of responses were via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Do you interact with authors via email or on social media, or are you content just reading their books? If you do interact, which platforms do you use/prefer? 

Almost all of the readers said they interact with authors and most of those are through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Email, or via blog posts.

What do you want from authors when you interact with them?

Readers stated that they overall they just want general conversation with the authors’ about their books and a chance to get to know the author a little. They want to be able to pass on their compliments about a book or to ask questions about it. Readers understand that authors are busy so they don’t always expect prompt responses and any response from an author brightens a reader’s day.

What are your thoughts on all these Facebook parties?

I received mixed responses on this – some like them some hate them. The best Facebook parties appear to be the ones where there is a lot of interaction either from the author, or when they have a line up of authors hosting for an hour. The parties that offer a lot of giveaways and then allow you to enter said giveaways until the end of the day are most popular.

Some of the readers surveyed don’t participate in Facebook parties due to the amount of time it takes or timing of the party. The parties that the readers prefer to pass on are the ones with flash giveaways because not everyone can get to Facebook party at a certain time. The readers surveyed do not like it when the Facebook party asks readers to go like another page and come back and report in. Some have also experienced parties where favoritism is shown by the author’s “friends” and feel the same people win prizes because they know each other or their comments are ignored.

Would you rather see an author put out more books in a year or interact more with readers on social media?

There are mixed feelings from the readers surveyed on this one. Some want more interaction, some want more books and most want a happy medium! A few said they don’t mind a gap in books if you are interacting with them online as long as the gap isn’t years. Another said that social media is meant to attract readers and if you are not writing books, why attract more readers?

Fill in the blank. I wish there were more books about _______________.

We received several types of responses on this one…

  • Lady inventors or scientists. I might be thinking about the Steampunk genre but I would love to see more intelligent ladies that are somewhat blue-collar workers, even if they have to be in disguise.
  • Single mothers, Bad boys who turned good, and cute kids bringing people together.
  • More books about middle age and senior romances, we are not dead yet
  • That’s a hard one…and probably not an answer you’ll get from ANYONE else, but…realistic romances about widows? Especially ones who actually had GOOD marriages the first time around? I am so sick of the evil first husband or the “We thought he was a good man/ we had a great marriage and then found out…” Seriously, can’t a person have two great loves? Isn’t that supposed to be a tenant of the romance genre? Though I suppose the other kind is more dramatic and all, but really, there could be all kinds of survivor guilt in there adding to the drama.
  • I wish there were more books about women in their 40’s-60’s with problems relevant to those ages.

Do you prefer long stories or shorter ones these days?

I received some mixed responses on this one. Many said they don’t mind, however, they don’t like it when a series is broken up into several novellas. They like the longer stories for plot and character development and prefer the novellas to complement the full length novels in a series. Several readers said that if they have to pay the same price for a novella as a full length novel, it would deter them from buying it and would pick the longer book to spend their money. Some readers said they have a lot of reading obligations as bloggers, so novellas can be good for that.

What do you think about descriptions within a book? Do you care if it is in first or third person point of view? For example, do you care if it is in the heroine’s pov, and she says, “I pushed my golden brown, curly hair behind my ear”?

Most of the readers surveyed do not care specifically about point of view if the story is well written, but many enjoy the third person point of view so they can experience the story from different perspectives. Regarding descriptions within a book, readers don’t mind if it is first or third person as long as it isn’t overly detailed or awkward. Some mentioned that descriptions should vary in length based on the genre – for example historical romance might need more description than contemporary.

Can a reader learn too much about an author? Authors share a lot about their family, their likes/dislikes, and themselves. When does it cross over into TMI? Or does it?

This was pretty unanimous in that most readers have never experienced an author over-sharing. They love the “realness” of authors sharing about themselves as much as they are comfortable.

Do you like to hear about the “challenges” an author faced while writing a particular story?

Everyone said yes to this. It goes along with getting to know an author better and what it takes to write a story.

What are your favorite extras that authors provide? 

Everyone likes extras! The things the mentioned included author interviews, character Interviews, deleted scenes, what an author is currently working on, trailers, playlists, teasers, making-of the story, what inspired a book, character, plot, etc. If the book is in first person, the extra of getting a scene from another character is fun as well, so keep up the extras, authors!

Has a giveaway ever encouraged you to buy an author’s book? And if so, what kind of giveaway?

I received mixed responses on this question. Some say yes, some say no, and some say only if it is an author they already know and read. However, many have learned about new authors based on giveaways they have won. Readers mentioned they tend to enter giveaways on blogs and Facebook most of the time. No one mentioned giveaways from contests or scavenger hunts. It seems they were just thinking of straight giveaways.

What is your favorite type of swag?

The responses were pretty typical things like bookmarks, pens, free books, cards, stickers, post-its, key chains, tattoos, bumper stickers, jewelry, gift cards, magnets, t-shirts, notepads, drink cozies, tote bags, and anything signed by the author

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That’s all I have for you for Part 1 today! If you are an author, I hope you found this post helpful! If you are a reader, I hope you also found something to take away from it. Check back next Friday for more questions and answers. If you have any questions about the responses to these questions, feel free to ask away.

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  1. carmendesousa

    Thank you for the survey info, Amy! Always good to know… You know me…I never talk with readers. LOL! Well, I’ve never had a FB party anyway. I prefer to talk on my FB page. And yes, I will answer anyone who asks me a question. I’m not big on FB parties, mostly because they blow up my email. I’ll usually stop by, though, if another author asks me. Thank you for your wonderful posts and reviews. #AmReading them! 🙂

    1. Amy

      LOL, Carmen. Thanks for stopping by! Your readers love you and your friendly personality. I am amazed at how much writing you get done while be so present on social media. 🙂

      1. carmendesousa

        I also like lots of coffee. 😀

  2. Edie Ramer

    Amy, this was very interesting. Thanks for posting all of it. I’ve been inundated with invites to FB parties, which is why when my last book came out, I didn’t send them out and just boosted each post instead. And very interesting about older heroines. The heroine in Mo’s Heart is in her early forties. I started a book with a heroine in her late fifties, but the conflict wasn’t working. Maybe someday, I’ll think of a better conflict. And now I know I should do more of the “extras.” As soon as I have time…

    1. Amy

      Hi Edie – thanks for stopping by and glad you found some information useful. Thank you for helping with your questions! 🙂

  3. Robin Bielman

    Hi Amy! This was great and super helpful. Thank you! And thanks to the girls who helped. I really do struggle with balancing writing and social media time. Plus, I’m naturally quiet, so putting myself out there is hard. But I love interacting with my readers and learning more about them, too. I guess I’m still trying to figure out my happy medium.

    I’m definitely taking notes on all this info and I look forward to next week’s questions and answers. Thanks again for doing this!

    Have a great weekend! <3

    1. Amy

      Robin – you may be quiet but you come off very friendly and personable, so I think you are doing a great job on social media. I feel as though I could ask you anything and wouldn’t feel awkward. Plus, your fans are always making things and sending them to you! 🙂

  4. Tina B

    They were some great questions. 🙂
    I, as a reader, agree with most answers. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Cara Bristol

    Interesting survey and responses. I too like to read about older heroines/heroes that I can relate to as I mature. As an author, I’m aware that writing about that age group cuts one’s potential market dramatically. A reader in her 50s or 60s will read a romance featuring a heroine in her 20s or 30s, but it’s doubtful many 20 something readers will buy about book about a 55 year old heroine–or even a 40 year old one.

  6. S.J. Maylee

    Very interesting. Thank you for putting this together. 🙂

    1. Amy

      Thanks for stopping by and checking it out, S.J.!

  7. constance masters

    Very interesting and quite helpful 🙂 Thanks !

    1. Amy

      Thank you for reading, Constance, I am glad it was helpful!

  8. Jeffe Kennedy

    Very interesting, indeed. You always ask good questions.

    1. Amy

      Thanks, Jeffe. All the questions were from other authors – I just simply forwarded those on to the readers. 🙂

  9. ki pha

    Woot woot!!! This is fantastic Amy! You did a really great job summarizing all of our answers. It’s really great to know what the others thought and I was super fascination about what they wanted to see more of.

    Can’t wait to read the next one. 🙂

    1. Amy

      Thanks, Ki! There were a lot of good answers and I wanted to list them all, but I had 13 pages of information, which was great!

  10. msspencerauthor

    Fascinating study Amy. May I ask the size of your poll? I was most taken by the subjects readers felt were underrepresented–I always give my heroines real jobs and put them in their 30s or 40s–because I thought most people would relate to that & your poll bears me out. For the reader who wanted widows of wonderful men, I invite you to check out Milo in Artful Dodging and Tessa in Mai Tais and Mayhem. I look forward to Part II of your study! M. S. Spencer (http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com)

    1. Amy

      Thank you, M.S.! I had about 13 female readers respond to the poll. Thanks for the book recommendations and for commenting.

  11. Connie Cartisano

    Thanks for the info.

  12. Palessa

    THis is FANTASTIC! I totally agree with providing stronger roles for women. That’s why my characters are entrepreneurs, architect, I even have a mockup for the head of a Information Systems company. I will definitely be referring back to these results. Thanks for this!

  13. Sue Swift/Suz deMello

    Really interesting information–looking forward to the next part of this blog.

  14. Cassandra Shaw

    thanks for doing the survey and collating the results – interesting reading

  15. Autumn Jones Lake

    Thank you. This was very informative and interesting! Looking forward to Part 2.

  16. Casey Dawes

    Thank you for doing this! Good information to know.

  17. lindabanche

    I’m definitely for more lady scientists and inventors in non-steampunk romances. They did exist. There are too many stories about women who want a rich husband, and if they do have a vocation, they’re writers or painters or cooks or housekeepers. Women have always done more than that.

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