Monday, August 12, 2013

What are your book buying habits?

A week ago I posted a survey for Novel Girl readers to fill out. The result was fantastic. I’m about to share the results here. Please keep in mind I’m just one tiny author/blogger and I’m not a powerhouse. That said, I got 100+ responses (104 to be exact) and in my opinion, that is a decent amount to use to analyse and learn from these results.
Without further ado, I will post the questions, a graphic of the answer, and my thoughts.

Preferred formats to buy a book

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My Thoughts: it’s easy to underestimate the importance of other book formats besides an eBook, but remember the collective total of paperbacks, hardbacks and audiobooks made up the larger percentage (51%). eBook only make up ~50% of preferred formats.
Of course, the most bought format is different to preferred, but I’d say have a paperback available. Through createspace it is so cheap to organise if you live in the US and not much more expensive if you live outside the US. Think broadly!

Where do you like to buy books?

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My Thoughts: I expected a slight higher percentage buying online. Are you surprised? If you have a favourite bookstore near you and have the time and means to get it in there, now might be the time to enquire since ~1/4 of book buyers want to go in-store still.

Favourite store/s to buy books from

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My Thoughts: This proves Amazon is vitally important, but choosing their Select program rules out 42% of other preferred stores to buy from. Now that’s a big cut! Barnes & Noble and the Book Depository jointly make up 1/4 of the results. This”42%” figure in actual terms is bigger because of all the “other” options people chose, as listed above.

Favourite genre to buy and read

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My Thoughts: Romance has historically been the biggest seller and to date remains that way. The next biggest genres listed (New Adult and Young Adult) are published in high frequency as a crossover with romance, so in all, you can see romance totally dominates. If you are publishing in lesser desired genres, you could think about incorporating aspects of romance of coming-of-age stories for a broader audience.

Does the publisher matter to you?

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My Thoughts: This was a fantastic surprise! Seems like readers don’t care (my opinion is so long as the book looks and reads professionally).

Where do you find new books to read?

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My Thoughts: Again, I stress the importance of word-of-mouth. Reviews and posting about publication of a new book is cool, but readers buy based on trust of another avid reader. So get your book into hands of readers and bloggers who’ll promote you if they love your book!

Do you read reviews? Which ones are influential in buying/not buying a book?

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My Thoughts: It’s important to find targeted reviewers if you send out ARCs or review copies. 55% of book buyers take notice to all reviews, and 82% will at least scan reviews for particular ones they are after. Bottom line is you want to put review copies in the hands of people likely to enjoy your genre and style, since you can impact this part of published reviews.

Are “star” ratings important to you?

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My Thoughts: This is great to hear. Some of the biggest sellers in history have average to low star ratings for a variety of reasons. it isn’t a biggie if your book doesn’t have a 4.5- to 5-star average.

Do you read free books? would you then continue on to buy more books by that author?

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My Thoughts: Another happy surprise! Free books are widely read in some circles, and 61% of  people who love a free book will go on to purchase other books by that author. A further 16% read all freebies. These are amazing results. Don’t underestimate the power of giving away one of your books for free.
For more info on this, read a guest post on Novel Girl going into this further here.

eBook pricing

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My Thoughts: Think about your career goals. Readers will spend their money on a book they love, so you don’t have to feel pressured to price at $0.99.
How important is a good book cover? (rate 5 very important; 1 doesn’t matter)
Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 10.15.39 AMMy Thoughts: I stress notice here! Book with great covers sell well, whether you agree or disagree. Almost 3/4 of book buyers are heavily swayed by a well designed cover. If you’re in need of a new cover or even an updated cover, you can hire me (Berto Designs) or look at this list of other book designers I recommend.

What aspect of book covers draw you in?

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My Thoughts: Romance and beauty are the most attractive (hehe pun intended) covers for book buyers. These factors (abs, kisses, beautiful woman) make up 37% of this poll. Care with font choice can grab a buyer, too, it seems.
Note these results are probably true for YA — Adult fiction (opposed to MG and Kids Fiction).

How important is quality editing and proofreading?

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My Thoughts: Only 7% didn’t mind if you haven’t had editing and proofreading done for your book. This actually surprises me. The base line is you must hire a qualified professional. Need one? I use and recommend Lauren McKellar (senior editor at Entranced and editor for PETS magazine).

Preferred gender of narrator

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My Thoughts: I love this! Females may make up 3/4 of readers but 75% of book buyers want a mixture of narrator genders.

Do you wait until a book is on sale if you think the author will later discount?

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My Thoughts: The current book environment sees double, triple and maybe quadruple more frequent book sales than a few years ago. This is a mixed bag of results, with reader preferences varied.

Do you subscribe to any of the following and buy from them?

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My Thoughts: If you haven’t considered advertising with book sale subscription companies, I suggest you do. BookBub and Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals affect chart toppers. I know this from my own experience and watching charts. The “Other” answer option may include “NOs” and also other actual companies. Not many book buyers don’t subscribe to anything.

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