Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Getting Tired of Talking About Self-Publishing, and This Is Why....

Remember WAY back in 2010, when self-publishing e-books was still new to everyone, and some of us were beginning to dabble and experiment? Remember when there were only a few brave, hearty souls out there trying this previously lambasted way to get our books to readers? Remember when it was weird and scary and we didn't know if the traditional publishers we were still working with would sue us for taking this new path? Yeah, that was sooooo three years ago. As we close in on the end of 2013, it seems like everyone is doing it or thinking about doing it. It's become "mainstream," a part of doing business for many authors, and it's no longer the headline-making development it was back in 2010. Or is it?

A month or two ago I read a blog post by an author who was taking the "brave, courageous step" into self-publishing. That made me chuckle. I wanted to post on her blog that there was nothing all that brave or courageous about taking that step—not anymore. Sure, it can be a daring move to turn down a decent contract with a traditional publisher to go totally indie. But it's not really a "brave" move anymore when it's been proven over and over by other authors that it can be a path to success if managed correctly. If thousands of other authors are doing it successfully—and by successfully I mean living off their proceeds—then those who are making the move now are doing so with far more information than many of us had back in 2010 when only a few hardy souls had taken this new path and NO ONE knew how traditional publishers would react to authors who decided to do both. That was truly scary.

At what point does the topic of self-publishing stop being all we talk about as a community? When does it become so much a part of our routine that it stops being "new" or "innovative"? For me, I think it happened sometime this fall when I realized I'm starting to get tired of talking about it. Yes, I said that out loud... I've talked about it a lot and tried to share what I've learned over the last three years. During that time I've self-published 18 books and turned my extremely well-rejected McCarthys of Gansett Island Series into a New York Times bestselling self-published series that has sold well over 1 million ebooks since Maid for Love debuted in 2011. For a long time, I enjoyed sharing what I've learned along the way, but now... I'm getting tired. I'll still talk about it because so many people are interested, and I'm always happy to lend a hand to another author, but... I'm looking forward to the day when self-publishing is as run-of-the-mill as traditional publishing, and it's not that big of a deal anymore.

How long do you think it'll be before we get there?

About the Author
With more than 2 million books sold, Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of 30 contemporary romances. Her New York Times bestselling self-published McCarthys of Gansett Island Series recently recorded its 1 millionth e-book sale since Maid for Love was released in 2011. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press, as well as the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. All You Need is Love, book 1 in her new Green Mountain Series from Berkley Sensation, is out on Feb. 4, 2014. The second book, I Want to Hold Your Hand, will be out in June, and Marie has agreed to a significant deal with Berkley for three more books in the series. In 2014, Marie will have eight mass-market print releases—the first five Fatal Series books from Harlequin and the first three Green Mountain Series books from Berkley. While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and two feisty dogs, Brandy and Louie. Join Marie's mailing list at http://marieforce.com/ for news about new books and other possible appearances in your area. Follow her on Twitter @marieforce and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarieForceAuthor/. Join one of Marie's many reader groups by viewing the complete listing at http://marieforce.com/connect/. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To My Fellow Indie Authors I Say... Take a Deep Breath

By: Marie Force

I'm asking all of my fellow independent or self-published authors to take a deep breath with me. That's it... Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Crazy shit has been happening lately. It makes us nuts. It affects our income, our rankings, our sanity. Last week it was Amazon and sexy romance novels ending up in the Christian category. This week it's Kobo removing all self-published books because a few authors tried to sneak in something Kobo (and its partners) rightfully don't want in their system. Is this a massive overreaction on Kobo's part? Perhaps, but guess what? It's their company and their show. They can do whatever the hell they want, as can Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Apple and all the other retailers we rely upon to bring our books to market.

It is NOT censorship. It's BUSINESS. YOU are a businessperson. You make decisions every day about what you will and will not include in your books, on your website, on your social media platforms. Kobo and Apple and Amazon and B&N and all online as well as brick-and-mortar booksellers have the right to make those same decisions on behalf of their business. Don't like it? TOO BAD! Think of yourself as a guest in their house. You don't get to dictate what they eat and what they don't eat, what time they go to bed or what time they get up. You're a guest. We're all guests, and we need to remember our manners.

Three years ago, many of the books that have been removed from Kobo in the last twenty-four hours, including mine, were growing mold on laptops around the world because there was no way for us to publish them. Many of us, including me, were seriously SCREWED in this business because we couldn't get a publishing deal despite having lots of books ready to go and readers begging for more. Today, we have so many options, the head literally spins trying to manage them all. Who gave us those options? The same retailers we seem to be constantly railing at these days.

Ease up, citizens. Remember that they owe us NOTHING. They can do whatever the hell they want with THEIR business. We are guests in their homes. Let us please remember that and practice some decorum. Yes, authors are legitimately pissed because they are losing money they need. I get that. I'm losing money, too. I don't like that. But please aim your vitriol at those who deserve it—a few people who screwed things up for the rest of us.

Stop blaming the retailers who have completely changed my life and probably yours too. Be nice. Be fair. And remember, they owe us nothing and have given us everything. You know how you're still figuring out this self-publishing gig? So are they. Give them time to work out the kinks in what is still a very new system for them, too.

The author community is 100 million times better off than it was three years ago. And it's because of KDP, KWL, Nook Press and the iBookstore. Please don't forget that.

Take a deep breath. Then take another one.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Independent Author Symposium Registration Now Open!

Join us in Warwick, Rhode Island on Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, 2013 to learn everything you've always wanted to know about self-publishing at the Independent Author Symposium sponsored by the E-book Formatting Fairies! Whether you’re new to self-publishing or have already self-published a book, there’s something for you at this event. We will cover everything from getting started with retailers to more advanced topics such as managing revenue reports and expanding distribution beyond ebook retailers to getting your print books in the hands of readers, bookstores and libraries.

Marie ForceNew York Times bestselling author, and Penny Watson, reviewer, blogger and author, have developed this event to demystify self-publishing. The goal of the symposium is to give authors an overview of self-publishing, provide specific how-to information and the opportunity to network with other authors. If you have any questions about the symposium, please email symposium@marieforce.com

Friday, November 1
6-8 p.m.        Networking Reception

Saturday, November 2
7-8 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
8-9:30 a.m.Educational Sessions (please see session descriptions below)
  • Welcome/Keynote Address: The Self-Publishing Revolution
  • Making A List, Checking It Twice: Your Self-Publishing To-Do List
9:30-9:45 a.m.  Break
9:45 a.m.-NoonEducational Sessions (please see session descriptions below)
  • Avoiding the Pitfalls of Formatting for Digital and Print
  • Lousy to Lovely—Cover Art Design
  • Distribution—Is Amazon The Only Game In Town?
Noon-1:15 p.m.Lunch
1:15-3 p.m.Educational Sessions (please see session descriptions below)
  • The Numbers Game: Pricing and Royalties
  • Who Are You and Who Am I?—Promotion and Branding
3-3:15 p.m.Break
3:15-4:45 p.m.Educational Sessions (please see session descriptions below)
  • Multi-Tasking To Success: Managing Multiple Titles, Series and Genres
  • Closing Remarks/Question and Answer Period with Marie Force and Penny Watson

Registration is now open and is required to attend this event. Click here to register! The $149 registration fee includes:
  • Participation in eight educational sessions plus a question and answer session with Marie Force and Penny Watson on Saturday, November 2 (educational sessions listed below)
  • Networking Reception from 6-8 p.m., Friday, November 1
  • Breakfast and lunch on Saturday, November 2

Once your registration and payment have been processed, a confirmation will be sent to you by email. If you have any questions about the symposium registration, please email symposium@marieforce.com. See the bottom of this page for registration cancellation instructions.

If you plan to make a hotel reservation at the Crowne Plaza, please do so as soon as possible as there are a limited number of rooms available at the reduced rate of $105 per night plus any applicable taxes. This discounted rate is available through October 11, or until the block has sold out. To make your reservation, contact the hotel directly at 800-227-6963 and indicate you are attending the Independent Author Symposium or reserve online at www.CrowneHotelWarwick.com and use the group code of SYM. You must use this code to receive the discounted rate. 

Welcome/Keynote Address: The Self-Publishing Revolution—Marie Force
As one of the early adapters to self-publishing, Marie has made herself into a New York Times bestselling author using a variety of strategies that employ self-published and traditionally published books. Since her debut in 2008, Marie has published twenty-seven books, seventeen of them self-published, with more to come. Her literary “rags to riches” story is illustrative of what’s possible in the digital age. Marie shares her story and tells you why it’s the best time ever to be an author.

Making A List, Checking It Twice: Your Self-Publishing To-Do List
Once you embark on a career as an independent author, you are no longer just a writer. You are now officially a publisher and business-owner! With that comes all the responsibilities of a publishing company, including editing, formatting, cover art design, distribution decisions, pricing, and promotion. Marie reviews the ultimate to-do list for your self-publishing business.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Formatting for Digital and Print
One of the most important aspects of self-publishing is error-free formatting. It’s critical for indie authors to produce high quality books, free of errors and typos with a polished and professional look. Marie Force and Julie Cupp of the E-Book Formatting Fairies discuss key issues involved in both digital and print formatting so your books sparkle for readers.

Lousy to Lovely—Cover Art Design
Cover art can make or break a book. Producing work that looks too amateurish can land you on Lousy Book Covers, or worse—hurt sales. Penny Watson and Lena Goldfinch “cover” the importance of genre recognition, clean professional designs and how to troubleshoot design disasters. Lena Goldfinch owns STONE LILY Publishing and Design Services.

Distribution—Is Amazon The Only Game In Town?
With so many options for distribution, one of the biggest decisions for independent authors is where they should upload their books. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and various other venues are available for distribution, all with their own set of quirks and limitations. Marie offers a comprehensive overview of distribution options and the unique issues involved with each platform.

The Numbers Game: Pricing and Royalties
Understanding pricing options and royalty statements is one of the most confusing facets of self-publishing. Managing these items effectively can have a huge impact on sales and income and help you understand the purchasing habits of your readers. Marie helps to clarify these issues and discusses various options for the self-published author.

Who Are You and Who Am I?—Promotion and Branding
Penny Watson gets down to the nitty gritty of promo and branding by discussing how to target the right audience for your book, employ an effective and creative promo strategy to increase sales, and ensure your social media etiquette is up-to-date and not a turn-off to potential customers. She also discusses branding and how to make your image professional, appealing and one-of-a-kind.

Multi-Tasking To Success: Managing Multiple Titles, Series and Genres
Many authors are jumping on the series bandwagon, as well as diving into multiple genres and pulling out their dusty backlist for publication. Managing multiple titles, series and genres can be somewhat overwhelming without a clear strategy in mind. As the author of two New York Times bestselling series currently at various stages and another beginning early next year, Marie offers some secrets to keeping multiple balls in the air at the same time. This topic will be useful for authors who have several titles to manage and are looking to grow their following.

Closing Remarks/Question and Answer Period with Marie Force and Penny Watson

Marie is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than 25 contemporary romances, 17 of them self-published. Waiting for Love, the 8th book in her self-published McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, was the first of her books to hit the bestseller lists in March 2013. She has hit the lists three other times in 2013, most recently with Fatal Mistake, book 6 in her Fatal Series, which was released June 17, and Time for Love, book 9 in the McCarthy Series, which was released on July 23.

Penny is a romance reviewer/book blogger (Penelope’s Romance Reviews), promo consultant and speaker, and has been both traditionally and self-published in romantic fiction and children’s fiction. She served as the promotion chair for NECRWA, and currently tours New England giving workshops on social media etiquette, promotion, and blogging/reviewing.

Be sure to join the Facebook group for the symposium to connect with other attendees about educational sessions, travel logistics and more!

All cancellation requests must be made by email to symposium@marieforce.com. Refunds will be disbursed in the following manner: Requests received by October 4 will receive a 75% refund; requests received between October 5 and 25 will receive a 25% refund; and requests received on or after October 26 will receive no refund. Note that you must contact the hotel directly to cancel your room reservation. We cannot cancel on your behalf.

If you have any questions about the symposium, please email symposium@marieforce.com

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Readers Sound Off! How They Read, What They Like and Where They Find Us

By: Marie Force
New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

I’ve recently concluded the first of what I hope will be a regular reader survey. Putting a finger on the pulse of the customer is always a good idea in business, and our business is no exception. I drafted the questions with the help and input of numerous other authors who took advantage of the opportunity to ask some of their most burning questions.

The survey was conducted from June 1-30, 2013, via Survey Monkey, and as many as 2,951 people replied to most of the 44 questions formulated by myself and more than a dozen other authors.

To summarize the most interesting results…
  • Readers prefer e-books to paperbacks (77 to 52 percent). However, the question allowed readers to choose all formats that apply, and there appears to be crossover between the two most popular formats, indicating some readers buy books in multiple formats when the paperback is available. I think it’s extremely interesting to note that more than half are still looking for their books in paperback. That will be a number to watch in future surveys. Will it go down or remain steady at about half?
  • Nearly 80 percent buy their books from Amazon, with Barnes & Noble scoring a distant second at 23 percent and iBookstore/Apple coming in third at nearly 13 percent. I’ll be interested to see how this result changes or shifts over the next year. I believe first place will remain around the same percentage while the distance between second and third place will continue to narrow.
  • Nearly 58 percent of those surveyed have not visited a brick and mortar bookstore in the last year or have done so twice in the last year. Twenty-five percent visit a bookstore once a month and twenty percent are there twice a month or more.
  • A whopping 81 percent of those surveyed listed romance as their favorite genre with mystery coming in a very distant second at almost 5 percent. According to the Romance Writers of America, romance was the top-performing category on the major bestseller lists in 2012 and accounted for $1.438 billion in sales in 2012, so it’s not surprising that most of those surveyed chose romance as their primary genre of interest.
  • For those who chose romance as their favorite genre, nearly 28 percent chose contemporary romance as their favorite subgenre with historical scoring second place with 23 percent. I found it interesting that only 2.6 percent chose New Adult as their favorite romance genre. That leads me to wonder if readers are aware of the “New Adult” name the industry has given to romances about women in college/early 20s, or if the genre isn’t really as popular as it seems, or yet again if New Adult was lumped in with contemporary by some respondents.
  • Sixty-four percent of those surveyed say they pay “no attention” to who publishes a book and/or “it doesn’t matter” to them. Thirty three percent pay “some attention” to who the publisher is whereas 4 percent say the publisher’s seal of approval “matters” to them.
  • Ninety-five percent of readers are “more likely” to buy a self-published book from an author who is known to them versus 68 percent who are “less likely” to buy a self-published book from an author who is unknown to them.
  •  The results for the primary source of information about books were all over the place with the top vote getter being Facebook at 18 percent, followed by retail sites at 17 percent, Goodreads at 13 percent and author websites at 10 percent. Lots of interesting data in the “Other” field for this question.
  • Facebook (62 percent) and Author Websites (63 percent) were virtually tied for first when readers were asked where they get their information about their favorite authors. (This was a “choose all that apply” question.) Author newsletters were a distant second at 36 percent. Goodreads scored 27 percent and Twitter 19 percent. Retail sites were next at 18 percent. It’s probably safe to conclude from these results that if you have limited time, it’s best spent on Facebook and keeping up your website.
  • Fifty-three percent of readers are “somewhat” swayed by reviews. Twenty-nine percent fall into the “not very much” or “not at all” categories and 18 percent say they are “very much” influenced by reviews.
  • When asked which reviews are most important to them, 50 percent chose the reviews posted to retail sites. Goodreads was a distant second at 16 percent, followed by blog reviews at 13 percent and publication reviews (RT Book Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, etc.) at 10 percent. An additional 10 percent of the respondents listed “Other” sources than those provided by the survey.
  • We asked readers to tell us which review publications they subscribe to and offered the following choices: RT Book Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, NYT Sunday Edition, USA Today, None and Other. Eighty-one percent chose “None” with RT Book Reviews at a distant second at 12 percent.
  • With the same list of publications, we asked readers to indicate which of the publications had influenced their decision to buy a book or try a new author. Seventy-six percent replied “Not applicable,” with RT Book Reviews coming in a distant second at 13 percent.
  • We asked how important “star ratings” are to their purchasing decisions, and discovered that 43 percent will wait to purchase a book if they see “low” star ratings. Thirty-eight percent say they will still try a book if they like the cover and sample, even if it has “low” star reviews. Eleven percent responded that star reviews are not at all important to them and 9 percent rely heavily on star reviews and will only purchase a book that meets their star-rating criteria.
  • Thirty-five percent have been introduced to new authors via free books more than 20 times. Twenty-one percent have found new authors through free books more than 10 times. If they liked what they read in the free book, 85 percent were extremely likely to buy another book from that author.
  • We discovered that readers are interested in stories with outstanding characters, setting, storytelling and writing, with 75 percent choosing “all of the above” to encompass each of those elements.
  • Thirty-three percent said typos don’t bother them at all while only 8 percent said bad editing will cost an author a reader for life. Twenty-seven percent said they’d give an author another chance if the editing in the first book isn’t good whereas 24 percent said “typos drive me mad.”
  • We asked if seeing the words “New York Times Bestselling Author” on the cover of a book is more likely to spur a reader to try a new author. Seventy-two percent said no, and 28 percent said yes. In addition, 60 percent of those surveyed “never” peruse the New York Times bestseller list looking for new authors. Four percent of those surveyed review the list every week in search of new authors.
  • Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed never review the USA Today bestseller list to find new authors and 2 percent do so weekly.
  • Seventy-five percent of those surveyed never review the Publishers Weekly bestseller list to find new authors and 2 percent do so weekly.
  • Eight-four percent of those surveyed subscribe to the newsletters of their favorite authors, and 55 percent subscribe to the blogs of their favorite authors.
  •  Just about half of those surveyed subscribe to BookBub to find out about free and reduced-price books and 31 percent subscribe to Kindle Fire Department. A wide variety of other outlets were listed in the open-ended replies for this question.
  •  In one of the more interesting results, 60 percent of those surveyed do not follow their favorite authors on Twitter whereas 87 percent of those surveyed do follow their favorite authors on Facebook. Find more than 2,000 replies to the open-ended question about what readers are looking for from authors on Facebook in the link to the full results at the end of this post. In another interesting finding, 85 percent of those surveyed do not follow their favorite authors on Pinterest, and 86 percent do not look for authors on any other social media platform besides those already listed in the survey. Goodreads was one of the most frequently mentioned sites in the open-ended portion of the question.
  • Fifty-two percent said that if they want a book badly enough, they don’t care what it costs. Twenty-two percent said they will not pay more than $4.99 for a book.
  • Sixty-eight percent are looking for novellas (in the 25,000-word) range to fall in the $0.99 to $1.99 price range. But 21 percent said they would pay $2.99 for a novella of this length.
  • When asked what they expect to pay for a full-length (80,000 words or more) novel, 26 percent said $4.99, 19 percent said $5.99, 14 percent said $3.99, 13 percent said $7.99 and 12 percent said $6.99. I found it interesting that only 6.5 percent said $2.99, which has been considered somewhat of a “sweet spot” in indie pricing.
  • Twenty-six percent would be willing to pay for “bonus” material, such as a short story unrelated to the current novel, but 34 percent were unwilling to pay for any kind of bonus material.
  • We had a true 60-40 split on whether an endorsement from a well-known author is more or less likely to make you buy a book, with 60 percent saying author blurbs or endorsements do not influence purchasing decisions.
  • When asked where they buy audio books, 70 percent replied that they have never bought one. A distant second was Audible at 15 percent, then Amazon at 11 percent and iTunes at 7 percent. When asked how many audio books readers purchased in the last year, 74 percent said they don’t purchase them. Among those who do, 18 percent bought between one and 10 audio books. Only 4 percent bought more than 20 audio books in the last year.
  • Fifty-four percent of those surveyed have never watched a book trailer, and 8 percent have bought a book because of a trailer.
  • Fifty-three percent are most concerned with a professional presentation when it comes to book covers, and 32 percent are rarely influenced by covers.
  • Fifty percent don’t care whose point of view is presented in the book, but 45 percent enjoy multiple points of view whereas only 3 percent prefer first-person point of view.

We’ve felt the ground shifting beneath us in recent years, but some of these results confirm things we already suspected, including:
  • Most of the readers surveyed don’t care who publishes a book or pay very little attention to who the publisher is. Judging by these results, it’s probably safe to assume the author name is selling more books these days than the publisher name.
  • Retail reviews, such as those found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retail sites, are the most important reviews in today’s environment.
  • If an author only has time for one social media platform, choose Facebook. It’s where the readers are and it’s where they’re looking for their favorite authors. They are not looking for their favorite authors on Twitter, which didn’t surprise me all that much. I’ve long suspected that Twitter was more about “preaching to the choir” whereas Facebook is about connecting with actual readers. That doesn’t mean there are NO readers on Twitter. To the contrary. However, there are more of them looking for authors on Facebook.
  • Author endorsements don’t matter as much as industry insiders think they do. Most readers don’t care about them.
  • Most e-book readers are buying from Amazon, which of course we knew, but now we have data to confirm it.
  • More than half don’t care how much a book costs if they want it badly enough. Most expect to pay $4.99 for a full-length novel (80,000 words or more) and between $0.99 and $1.99 for a 25,000-word novella.
  •  Readers are still somewhat leery about buying self-published books from unknown authors, whereas they are more than willing to buy books from self-published authors who are known to them.
  • More than half the readers are still looking for their books in paperback format. Hear that? More than half. That’s a lot of readers… To those who think traditional publishing is dead, remember this: More than half the readers are looking for a format that traditional publishing is still best equipped to provide. If you want to reach that half, you may have to remain in business with traditional publishers. I am. That’s why.
  • Audio books are not very popular—yet. Give them time. I believe we will see this number increase over the next few years.
  •  Readers pay very little attention to book trailers.
  •  Readers are not big fans of first-person points of view.
  • New Adult romance isn’t as popular as we thought it was. Or… It could be readers aren’t aware that the books they love to read about young women in college or right after college are considered “New Adult” romance. I believe it’s possible this result is misleading. Judging from the books on the bestseller lists, New Adult is as popular as we think it is.

Full Results
I’m going to give you the straight results and then link to the PDF so you can read the open-ended questions in more detail.

Q1 I prefer to read (choose as many as apply)
Paperback books: 51.24%
Hard cover books: 22.30%
E-books: 77.70%
Audio books: 7.56%
All of the above: 9.73%

Q2 What platform do you use for purchasing e-books (choose as many as apply)
Kindle/Amazon: 78.55%
Kobo: 7.08%
Nook/B&N: 23.04%
iBookstore/Apple: 12.88%
Google Books: 1.93%
Author’s website: 11.72%
All of the above: 0.64%
I don’t buy e-books: 5.76%
Other: 8.81%

See 261 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
All Romance eBooks and publisher sites

Q3 How often do you visit brick and mortar bookstores such as Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller?
Twice a month: 19.42%
Once a month: 24.40%
Twice a year: 33.21%
Not once in the last year: 22.98%

Q4 What is your favorite genre of fiction?
Mystery: 4.81%
Thriller: 1.97%
Romance: 81.02%
Science Fiction: 1.52%
Other: 10.67%

See 315 open-ended responses in the PDF.

Sample responses:
Women’s fiction
Western historicals/time travel
Young adult/new adult
Chick Lit
Romantic suspense
Doesn’t matter as long as it is well written

Q5 If you chose romance in the previous question, please state your favorite subgenre:
Contemporary: 27.55%
Historical: 23.15%
Suspense: 14.43%
Paranormal: 21.12%
Erotic: 10.33%
New Adult: 2.63%
Young Adult: 0.79%

Q6 How much attention do you pay to who publishes a book that interests you?
Some attention: 32.53%
No attention: 26.06%
Doesn’t matter to me: 37.55%
A publisher’s seal of approval matters to me: 3.66%

Q7 Are you more or less likely to buy a self-published book from a known-to-you author:
More likely: 95.12%
Less likely: 4.88%

Q8 Are you more or less likely to buy a self-published book from an unknown-to-you author:
More likely: 32.26%
Less likely: 67.64%

Q9 What is your primary source of information about books? (Choose one)
Facebook: 18.16%
Twitter: 3.80%
Goodreads: 13.59%
Author websites: 10.44%
Author newsletters: 5.46%
Retail sites: 16.71%
Review sites: 10.71%
Reader blogs: 5.66%
Other: 15.49%

See 457 open-ended responses in the PDF.

Sample responses:
Amazon reviews
Kindle review sites
Romantic Times
Twitter & Goodreads

**Interesting that “friends” and “word of mouth” was frequently mentioned in the open-ended replies.

Q10 Where do you get the most information about your favorite authors? (Choose all that apply)
Facebook: 61.95%
Twitter: 18.37%
Author websites: 62.56%
Author newsletters: 35.85%
Retail sites: 18.20%
Goodreads: 27.62%
Reader blogs: 19.59%
Other: 8.98%

See 265 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
Amazon recommendations
Word of mouth from friends
Amazon discussion groups
Author websites
RT Magazine

Q11 How much do reviews in general factor in to you purchasing a book?
Very much: 17.70%
Somewhat: 53.18%
Not very much: 21.92%
Not at all: 7.19%

Q12 Which reviews are most important to your decision to purchase a book? (Choose one)
Blog reviews: 13.07%
Publication reviews (RT Book Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, etc.): 10.06
Reader reviews posted to retail sites: 49.72%
Goodreads reviews: 16.32%
Other: 10.82%

See 313 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
I don’t worry about reviews
Friend recommendations
Only reviews from friends matter
None. I pick a book from the blurb, reviews don’t matter
I try not to be swayed by bad reviews and give the book a chance

Q13 Do you subscribe to any of the following publications (Click all that apply)
RT Book Reviews: 11.65%
Publishers Weekly: 2.87%
Kirkus: 0.69%
Booklist: 2.07%
New York Times Sunday Edition: 3.11%
USA Today: 2.77%
None: 80.77%
Other: 3.80%

See 110 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
Shelf Awareness
Fresh Fiction
RSS feeds from NYT, USA Today
Heroes and Heartbreakers
Local papers

Q14 Please click on each of the following publications if it has recently (in the last month or two) influenced your decision to purchase a book or try a new author:
RT Book Reviews: 12.55%
Publishers Weekly: 2.73%
Kirkus: 0.93%
Booklist: 2.59%
New York Times Book Review: 5.22%
Not applicable: 76.28%
Other: 6.92%

See 200 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
USA Today HEA Blog
Entertainment Weekly
Amazon recommendation
Friend recommendation

Q15 How important are "star ratings" on retail sites in your decisions to purchase books?
Very important - I only buy books that meet my star-ratings criteria: 8.54%
Somewhat Important - Seeing low star-ratings will make me wait to buy a book: 42.57%
Not That Important - I will try a book with low star-ratings if I like the cover/teaser/sample: 38.21%
Not At All Important - I don't trust star-ratings: 10.68%

Q16 How often has a free book introduced you to a new author you wouldn't have tried without the free offering?
More than 20 times: 35.17%
More than 15 times: 12.83%
More than 10 times: 20.68%
More than 5 times: 22.68%
Never: 8.64

Q17 How likely were you to buy a second book from an author if you enjoyed his or her free book?
Extremely likely: 84.85%
Somewhat likely: 13.66%
Somewhat unlikely: 0.83%
Have never bought a second book because I only read free books: 0.66%

Q18 When thinking about your favorite authors, what is the most important aspect of their books that keeps you coming back for more?
Characters: 11.13%
Setting: 0.14%
Writing: 4.39%
Storytelling: 7.85%
All of the above: 74.79%
Other: 1.69%

See 49 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
All of the above except setting
World building
Unique storytelling and writing
Plot and characters

Q19 How important is editing to your enjoyment of a book? (Choose one that
best describes your habits)
Typos don’t bother me all that much: 32.92%
Typos drive me mad: 23.76%
If the editing isn’t good in the first book I try, I’m done with that author forever: 8.13%
If the editing isn’t good in the first book I try, I might give the author another chance with a second book: 27.28%
Other: 7.92%

See 229 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:

Typos bother me, but I will overlook them if I love the author
Typos drive me crazy, but I won’t stop reading because of them
I can excuse a few typos, but not on every page
Bad grammar drives me crazy
Typos happen, but I appreciate the books. No one is perfect.

Q20 Does seeing “New York Times Bestseller” or “USA Today Bestseller” with an author's name make you more likely to purchase a book from an author you may not already know?
Yes: 27.99%
No: 72.01%

Q21 How often do you peruse the New York Times bestseller list looking for new authors to try?
Weekly: 3.54%
Monthly: 6.77%
Rarely: 29.38%
Never: 60.31%

Q22 How often do you peruse the USA Today bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly: 2.22%
Monthly: 4.24%
Rarely: 25.49%
Never: 68.06%

Q23 How often do you peruse the Publisher's Weekly bestseller list, looking for new authors to try?
Weekly: 1.53%
Monthly: 2.78%
Rarely: 20.17%
Never: 75.52%

Q24 Do you subscribe to the newsletter of your favorite author(s)?
Yes: 83.96%
No: 16.04%

1,468 open-ended replies to why or why not in the PDF.

Sample replies:
I already get too much email
Just doesn’t seem important
I like to see what they are up to
New releases, contests, excerpts
Make sure I don’t miss a new release

Q25 What kind of news do you prefer from authors via their newsletter? (Check all that apply)
New releases: 80.69%
Upcoming releases: 80.58%
Exciting news, such as awards or bestseller lists: 46.15%
News about other authors’ books: 51.39%
Info about what your favorite author is reading: 46.08%
Don’t read newsletters, so this question doesn’t apply to me: 10.24%

Q26 Do you subscribe to the blog of your favorite author?
Yes: 55.64%
No: 44.38%
1,245 open-ended replies to why or why not in PDF.

Sample replies:
No time to consistently read blogs
I can read without subscribing. Too much email.
Stay in touch with where they are at with writing
She is fun to read
Get to know author better

Q27 Do you subscribe to any of the following services for information about free or reduced-price books? (Check all that apply)
BookBub: 49.08%
Pixels of Ink: 24.00%
Kindle Fire Department: 31.39%
Other: 36.00%
531 open-ended replies included in the PDF.

Sample replies:
Books on the Knob
Book gorilla
B&N Daily Find emails
One Hundred Free Ebooks

Q28 Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Twitter?
Yes: 39.27%
No: 60.73%

Q29 What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on Twitter?
1205 open-ended replies included in the PDF

Sample replies:
Love samples from their real life
Actual interaction. If it’s just promo, I will unfollow
New and upcoming books
What they are reading
Don’t like when they constantly push their books and their friends’ books

Q30 Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Facebook?
Yes: 86.75%
No: 13.25%

Q31 What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on
2,027 open-ended responses in PDF

Sampling of comments:
Upcoming releases
What they are reading, watching, etc.
Info from workday life

Q32 Do you follow your favorite author(s) on Pinterest?
Yes: 16.11%
No: 83.89%

Q33 What kind of information do you look for from your favorite authors on Pinterest?
691 open-ended responses in PDF

Sample comments:
Pictures of their inspiration and ideas
Stuff that is relevant to their books
What they are interested in
Pictures of settings, character inspiration
I have not figured out Pinterest

Q34 Do you look for authors on other social media platforms?
Yes: 13.78%
No: 86.22%
If yes, which ones? See 290 replies in PDF. Sample:

Q35 How price sensitive are you? Check all that apply:
I will not pay more than $.99 for an ebook: 2.22%
I will not pay more than $2.99 for an ebook: 6.56%
I will not pay more than $4.99 for an ebook: 21.82%
If I want the book, I don't care what the price is: 51.85%
I do not pay for ebooks. I wait until they are available for free and download them then: 4.12%
I am willing to pay more for an ebook published by a major publisher than for an ebook that is self-published: 7.58%
Other (open ended) 868 responses included in the PDF

Sample responses:
I wouldn’t pay any price for an ebook if a print version was available
7.99 is the max I will pay, but I don’t like it
I won’t pay for an ebook priced higher than the paperback
I will pay for favorites, but I am price-sensitive to new self-pub writers
7.99 is my break point for an ebook

Q36 If you are reading a digital novella (for this question, say it has a maximum word count of 25,000), what is the most you would expect to pay for that work?
99 cents: 34.68%
1.99: 32.82%
2.99:  20.62%
Other: 11.88%
See 337 open-ended replies in the PDF

Sample replies:
$5 if fave author, more likely $3
If it’s an author I like, any price
Just started paying attention to word count
I never thought about it
Depends on author and content

Q37 What is the average price that you would expect to pay for a digital full-length novel (80,000 words and up)?
2.99: 6.49%
3.99: 14.24%
4.99: 25.87%
5.99: 19.18%
6.99: 10.36%
7.99: 12.90%
Other: 10.96%
See 311 open-ended replies in the PDF

Sample replies:
I would rather wait for the paperback than pay a lot for an ebook
If it’s an author I like, any price
Don’t buy, get the freebies
I don’t like/buy/read ebooks
Depends on the author

Q38 What kind of bonus material would you be willing to pay extra for? (Assume that the novel with bonus content would cost a dollar more than the basic novel. Check all answers that apply.)
Author interview: 16.39%
Scene by scene commentary by author: 12.44%
Bonus short story, related to novel: 58.48%
Bonus short story, unrelated to novel: 26.12%
Deleted scenes: 32.71%
None of the above: 34.40%
Other (specify): 4.05%

See 115 open-ended replies in the PDF.

Sample replies:
Background on historical data used
Behind-the-scenes stuff, inspiration
Love related extras!
Forget the gimmicks and give me a story I can’t put down
Extended sneak peek of upcoming book

Q39 Does an endorsement (cover blurb) from a well-known author influence your decision to buy an unknown author's book?
Yes: 40.75%
No: 59.25%

Q40 If you buy audio books, where do you purchase them:
Amazon: 11.31%
Audible: 14.70%
iTunes: 6.77%
I have never purchased an audiobook: 68.59v
Other (specify): 8.28%

See 235 open-ended responses in the PDF
Sample responses:
Borrow from the library
Tantor Audio or directly from Downpour
B&N, Target, WalMart, BJs
I rarely listen to audio books. I get too distracted.

Q41 If you buy audio books, how many have you purchased in the past year:
1-10: 17.98%
10-20: 3.64%
More than 20: 4.02%
I don't buy audio books: 74.34%

Q42 Do video book trailers influence your decision to buy a book? (Check all that apply)
I always watch a book trailer if there is one: 6.07%
I have bought books after watching a book trailer: 8.21%
I watch book trailers but am just as likely not to buy the book: 8.78%
Book trailers don't influence me one way or the other: 33.10%
I've never watched book trailers as part of my purchase decision: 53.61%

Q43 Which elements of a cover design most impact your decision to purchase a book? (select all that apply)
Professionalism of the design: 52.41%
Appearance of the hero: 33.42v
Appearance of the heroine: 26.33%
I prefer designs without people: 6.56%
Fonts used: 16.78%
I prefer illustrated covers: 12.80%
Covers rarely influence me: 32.04%
Other (specify): 10.47%

See 297 open-ended responses in the PDF.

Sample responses:
Landscape, imagery, avoidance of clichés
I like tasteful covers, though they are hard to find in romance
Nothing too cheesy
Characters that look like the story says they do
Must evoke an emotion for me to purchase

Q44 I prefer to read stories that include (select one)
The hero's point of view only: 0.32%%
The heroine's point of view only: 1.66%
Multiple points of view: 45.47%
I prefer first-person points of view: 3.07%
Doesn't matter: 49.49%

SOOO, what do you think? Are the results what you expected? Any surprises? Any revelations? 

Thanks to all who helped to formulate the survey, who promoted it to their readers and to everyone who took the survey. I hope to do this again next June to see what changes over the next year.