Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reader Survey Results – Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous post, sharing the results from my recent readers survey. I meant to post this last Thursday, but you know how the world can get in the way!

One aspect of the ebook revolution that really bugs me is the poor editing one sees in many books. Misspellings, grammar errors, typographic errors and incorrect word use are all too common. Poor editing can really spoil my reading experience (and lower my review rating, even for a book I enjoy). However, given the prevalence of this problem, I’d assumed that as an author, I must be more sensitive than most readers.

Not so, apparently. When I asked “Do you notice misspellings, wrong
words or other mistakes when you are reading?”, a whopping 95% said yes.

My next question was: “If you do notice these kinds of editing errors, how much do they affect your enjoyment of a book?”

Here are the answers:

A lot – it makes me really mad to read a poorly edited book
34.18 %

Somewhat – I try to ignore the errors
54.08%

Not at all – I only care about the story and the characters
11.22%

I don’t even notice editing errors.
0.51%

Clearly I’m not alone in my frustration with poor editing. I should have asked whether editing errors in one book would affect a decision to buy a second book by the same author, but alas, that didn’t occur to me.

Next I asked about purchasing decisions. Specifically, I gave respondents a list of different types of information and asked how often each one influenced their decisions to buy a book. I don’t think I structured this question very well. For almost every factor I listed, the most common response was “Sometimes”. The exceptions were “Author” and “Genre”, where “most of the time” was the most common response.

The other factors I asked about were price, recommendations from friends, reviews, excerpts, cover, blurb and book length. All these seem to have some influence, but none dominates.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this question was the large set of “Other-specify” responses I received. Here’s a selection of those responses:

Where I can buy them. For instance, I have never purchased an ebook from amazon. It's all from Are, Smashwords, B&N or direct from publisher.

Since I read most of my books from the public library, price is not a factor. However, when I find a book I love too much to live without it I will look for a good deal on it and buy it.

Availability as an ebook.

Recommendations from other authors I read

Quality of the writing

A lot of times I look at the 'if you like this book, you might like...' type things.

Interviews with authors -- one author mentioning another author

Reading the first page or part of the first chapter

Advertising - if it's promoted on social media or on the Kindle I will likely buy in. I'm vulnerable to blog posts about
books with links to Amazon :-)

Quality of writing

Sample texts are my #1 factor: if the first chapter (or even page) doesn't grab me, I won't buy or borrow the book.

Grammatical errors in the excerpt, blurb, or title

I will often choose free first books and then purchase the entire series if I like the characters or enjoy the writer's style. Then I purchase the backlist and new releases from that author.

In short, who wrote the book has a great deal of influence, but writing quality and marketing do have some effect. And yes, we authors can help one another by recommending each other's books to our committed readers.

The next set of questions I asked involved technology issues. One reason I ran this survey in the first place was to evaluate whether it would be worthwhile for me to use my tech expertise in order to create an author app. So I wanted some idea of how connected my respondents were, and how much that affected their reading and buying habits.

I won’t go through all the details, but here’s a summary of what I found out.

73% of respondents have a smart phone (about evenly split between Apple and Android)

67% have a tablet (Android dominates, but not by much)

Only 7% have ever downloaded a mobile app from an author.

Of those who downloaded an author app, 30% open it rarely and 18% have never opened it, even after downloading.

I think I’ve received a pretty clear answer. Better I should spend my time writing then programming!

I was curious about social media use. Here’s the results from asking about the most common ones.



Goodreads is almost as popular as Facebook. In the “Other” category, there were multiple mentions of Tsu and Tumblr.

83% of respondents have, at some point, friended an author on Facebook. 64% have followed an author on Twitter. (9% said they don’t use Facebook; 19% said they don’t use Twitter.) I conclude that social media are at least one way to reach some readers.

Just for fun, I asked respondents to compare their own reading habits to those of their friends. Here’s what I found.


These are definitely the readers with whom I want to connect!

My final set of questions involved readers' specific familiarity with my work, and their perceptions or attitudes toward me and my books. I won’t go into these results in depth, because they’re not really relevant to other authors, but I did find that quite a few respondents had never read anything by me.



Obviously, I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like more details about any of the data I’ve summarized here or in my previous post, feel free to get in touch.


4 comments:

Spencer Dryden said...

Lisabet:
Thanks for sharing. I have not gone the self publishing route in particular over concerns about editing. My current works have to pass three sharp eyed editors before they are released to the e-book shelf yet errors sneak through. My own theory is there is some maleware out there that digs into a published works and scrambles spellings.

What is an author app?

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Spencer,

An author app is a mobile application that you download, which lets you keep in touch with a specific author and his/her work and news. I haven't used on myself, but functions might include: announcements of releases, contests, etc; making free stories or excerpts available; special offers just for app users; direct messaging between the author and his/her fans; cover gallery; etc. It's a marketing tool, to build reader engagement. But it seems from the survey that it's not a very successful strategy, at least not for this demographic.

Larry Archer said...

Lisabet did you try and separate the responses by if they were readers or authors? I would find it interesting to see if readers had different responses than authors as we are not trying to attract other authors but need to appeal to readers. I'd think that authors may color the results as they possibly would react differently to the questions.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Larry,

I didn't think to ask this, mostly because I expected readers more than authors, but my impression looking at the email addresses of the people who provided them (to be entered into my drawing) is that at least 75% were primarily readers. Or at least, I didn't recognize their emails as authors (and I know a LOT of authors at this point).

However, you're probably right that there is some skewing in these results just because they come through MY connections to readers and authors, as opposed to some other author who (for example) writes differently.

Also, most authors are avid readers. I'm not sure that our opinions as readers are THAT different.

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