Thursday, August 8, 2013

Surveying readers; social media dominating US adults' time; and more social media news for writers

Readers are a mysterious bunch, aren't they? Who knows why they buy the books they do, how they find out about new books... wait, why don't we just ask them? Author Marie Force did, and the results of her survey are highlighted below. Also, more survey results: 3-in-4 American adults are on social media; Americans spent more time on social media than watching television; and Nielsen says it's proved tweeting about a show while it's being broadcast can increase its viewership. All this and more in social media news for writers.

Survey says: Author and vendor of ebook services Marie Force posted on her blog the results of a survey she conducted in June, with a dozen other authors, on reader's habits and it makes for interesting reading. The survey asked 44 questions. She reports getting almost 3,000 replies. 

Force deserves a lot of thanks for doing the researching and making the results public and I encourage you to read the blog post and look through the full results of her survey, which she makes available in a 330 page pdf. Force, as you may know, writes romance and romance suspense, and while she doesn't indicate which authors also participated in the survey, I suspect from some of the answers--see question #4, "what is your favorite genre of fiction?" to which 81 percent responded "romance"--that this survey is a good representation of how romance readers feel but perhaps is not representative of the readers of other genres. Would readers of thrillers or sci-fi or biographies report differently? It would be interesting if authors from other genres used Force's questions and conducted surveys of their own. Biggest takeaways:

  • Readers expressed a preference (77 percent) for ebooks over (52 percent) paperbacks (respondents were allowed to choose all formats that applied). She interprets the results to mean that there's a good number of readers buy multiple formats, perhaps buying paperbacks when that format is available.
  • Amazon was the vendor of choice for books (she didn't distinguish between books and ebooks), getting nearly 80 percent of the vote.
  • When asked how readers find out about new books, answers were "all over the place" with Facebook scoring highest at 18 percent, retail sites (unspecified) at 17 percent, Goodreads at 13 percent and authors' sites at 10 percent.
  • As for where readers get information about their favorite authors, 62 percent said from Facebook and 63 percent said from authors' websites.
  • When asked which reviews were most important to them, readers said retail sites (50 percent), Goodreads (16 percent), bloggers (13 percent) and others such as RT Book Reviews, Kirkus, PW at 10 percent.

 (Thanks to Karen Dionne for telling me about the survey.)

Can Twitter boost a television show's ratings? Nielsen believes its latest study proves that yes, it can (causation) boost viewership of a TV show as the show airs live. Granted, there's no guarantee and the study reports that it happens a minority of the time. How much of a lift a show gets from all that tweeting isn't yet know, and apparently TV execs feel that after it reaches a certain point, Twitter activity doesn't get you any more eyeballs, it just gets you...more tweeting. Does this mean anything for books? Probably not, but if you're interested in finding out what books your friends are talking about on Twitter, you can try this app, BookVibe.

Where the eyeballs are: Fast Co. quotes a Nielsen study that says Americans now spend more time consuming more social media than they do television, spending over 5 hours a day on social media. 

And, in separate news (Pew, to be specific), almost 75 pecent of Americans use social media, and 1-in-5 are on Twitter.

Would you pay for Facebook? With advertising exploding all over the site, would you pay for a premium version that would skip all the ads, asked Digital Trends recently. You can see the answers here. Many of the respondents are in media or marketing, but there are a few writers quoted, too: “Yes, I would pay for Facebook. Not because I find it that valuable for my personal life, but it’s essential to my freelance writing work. I focus on travel and dining and visit Facebook multiple times a day to look for contact info or photos I can use online.” - Zach Everson, writer

What will agents do in the new publishing paradigm? Forbes recently reposted this Digital Book World interview with agent Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich, where she talks about how her business is shifting. There's also a link to DBW's report on the hybrid writer, which you can purchase for $70 if you're that curious. 

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