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February 20, 2014

What do Readers Want?

Weekend before last I spent in San Francisco with some of the biggest names in romance talking about how to increase our presence on Amazon and reach more readers. This conference was small, personal and so unique. It’s not often you can ask Belle Andre or Tina Folsom or Sara Fawkes about their success.  Not to forget Nina Lane, Delilah Fawkes, Courtney Milan, Cynthia Woolf and several other Best-selling authors that attended.
We spent the weekend discussing metadata, keywords, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Street Teams and all the other details that help sell our books. As we sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be asking questions of our readers.
So I would like you to take the following unscientific, totally random for my own purposes survey. It’s only five questions, with a bonus round and someone (randomly drawn number), who answers will receive a free book just because they participated. The results will be tallied and shared with other authors.
1)      How do you choose an author?

a.      Name Recognition
b.      Recommendation from someone you know
c.      Genre
d.      Only buy Authors you’ve read previously.

2)      Do you read:
a.      Multiple Genres (Contemporaries, Westerns, Mysteries, Paranormal, Erotica, Inspirations etc.)
b.      Only one Genre
c.      You don’t care as long as it’s a good story.

3)      Do you read:
a.      Ebooks
b.      Paperbacks
c.      Both

4)      How many books a month do you read?
       a.  1-5
       b.  6-10
       c.  11 or more
       d.  only short stories

      5)      What interests you the most in the story?
                    a.  Plot
                    b.  Characters 
                    c.  Suspense
                    d.  Happily Ever After

     6) Bonus Round – Is there one plot device that you are sick of reading about? What is it and why? What do you wish writers would write more stories about?

Okay, readers this is your opportunity. I have authors who really want to know the answers to these questions. Remember everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for a free book. I’ll even make it your choice. So let us hear from you! Leave your email address or check back tomorrow for the winner.

Sylvia McDaniel is the best-selling author the western historical series, The Burnett Brides and The Cuvier Women. She has sixteen books published and is about to publish 2 more. She writes Western Historical and contemporary romance.  Look for her newest release in March.  Visit her website at:


Anonymous said...

1. c
2. a
3. c
4. a
5. a
6. I don't need to read about sex for it to be a good story.
Less books about vampires and sci fi. Love a good mystery and a good laugh.

David Kentner -- KevaD said...

I’m an author’s nightmare when it comes to trying to pin me down on what I’ll read. First, I decide what genre I feel like reading, and, yes, I read just about anything (from math books to romance to memoirs to steampunk to self-improvement). Next, I search for an author I haven’t read. That search includes well-known and debut authors. Blurbs and the ability to read the first page of the book are critical in my search. For print books in the store, that obviously isn’t a problem. Ebooks, though, must provide that first page or I pass it by. An author’s voice is easily identified in those initial paragraphs. If the voice is strong, I’ll read on, if not, I move on to the next book. Voice is the greatest attraction and determining factor for me. Strong characterization can keep a weak plot limping along while I give the story a chance to come to a satisfying conclusion.

Some months I may read a dozen books or more – some months I may not read anything.

What plot device am I sick of? Vampires. They’ve been done in every way imaginable. However, if a storyteller can offer a new take I haven’t read, I’ll be there. Vampires are the current unattainable exotic hero, much like sheiks and knights were a couple decades ago. There will be a new version of the fantasy hero who captures our imaginations, he just isn’t here yet. Kilt-wearing Highlanders gained a strong foothold, but seem to be fading.

Another aspect that matters to me is an author’s conduct. I attended a seminar where one of the authors on a panel stood up, announced how she knew everyone was interested in her breasts, fondled them, and then sat down. She made my do not read list. Authors who belittle readers are automatic do not reads. At the end of another seminar, Marcus Sakey took the time to sit and talk with two readers who were ‘going to write a book someday.’ It was obvious they never would/will, still, Mr. Sakey gave his time and full attention to them, like he had nothing else to do but speak with these folks. That’s class. He gained a fan that day. Compare that to a romance author I spoke to at a RomCon. I asked if I could interview her for my column sometime. She asked for my name again, said, “Never heard of you,” and walked away. I do not now, nor will I ever, own any of her books.

Sylvia said...

Thank you so much for participating. I appreciate it.

Sylvia said...

I LOVED your comments. I'm sick of Vampires as well, so you won't be reading them from me. Even with a new plot device, I'm kind of over it. I also read pretty much all genres from self-help to occasionally a thriller, though I detest blood and guts. Don't want to see it at the movies, on TV and books. But you brought up a very good point about authors behavior. I have several authors on my DO NOT BUY list because of their attitudes and the way I have seen them act in public. We must remember that we are always on stage and people remember how we act. At one of the RWA luncheons a NYT author who was speaking at lunch, made them remove another authors books that were being given away or she would not speak. I went out and bought the author's books they removed. I have never ever bought the woman who threw the diva fit and this story has been repeated multiple times. Hope to meet you at RomCon this year. I will be there. That was such a fun conference last year and I hope it is again.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Wow, Sylvia, a good survey. No vampires ever.

And I like David's comments about good manners.

Unknown said...

1) c
2) a
3) c
4) b
5) I cannot choose. I love all four answers.
Bonus) I don't like vampires. I've never like them and haven't read any books with vampires in it.
I enjoy the western era, when settlers started living in the west. Also, I enjoy reading about the Amish and Mennonites.

Sylvia said...

He is so right about good manners. I've seen this in action twice and it's been eye opening. I'm over Vampires, not that I ever got into them.

Sylvia said...

Hi Barbara,
Thanks for stopping by and doing the survey. Your answers have been recorded. I LOVE THE WESTERN era and that's a lot of what I write. I don't know enough about the Amish or the Mennonites, but I'm sure they were interesting people.

Bantering of a Beautiful Mind said...

Hello Sylvia! Great questions!
1. C...but it can also be A and B also. Because I like A LOT of Genre's. I do tend to find myself checking out books that have been mentioned to me by friends or family or if I notice a name pop up that I have heard mentioned many times it intrigues me to check them out also.

2. C - I love books. All kinds of them. I have read anything from YA all they way up to Erotica. As long as the story is well written and it keeps my attention I am up for reading it.

3. C - I have a collection of paperback books and I add to it as I am able. But I have a lot of ebooks as well. It is helpful to do the ebooks when money is tight. I find I end up going back and buying the paperback to ebooks I have read to add to my collection!

4. A and B....depends really on what is happening. I have been trying to catch up on some reading since I had my surgery. I have read one book a day before. Just really depends on real life but I at least try to get 2 or 3 in a week!

5. A - I have to be snagged from the beginning. I have started books before and they would drag so much that I couldn't EVER get into it. If it takes me to the 3rd chapter I am most likely not going to finish it and I HATE not finishing a book I have started.

6. I have loved reading everyones answers on this. I don't have an issue with Paranormal or better yet Vampires. I don't mind reading anything as long as it isn't well written. Don't get me wrong I have read some vampire books that were horrible. They were repetative and seemed like other books just twisted around. BUT there are some books that are so well written it doesn't phase me at all. I love cowboys...but I have also read some of those that are like WHAT? So to me it is all on how it is presented. If you can grab my attention I will read it and review it :)

This was fun! Thank you!!!

Bantering of a Beautiful Mind said...

DANG TYPO in last answer....

*as long as it IS WELL WRITTEN!

Bantering of a Beautiful Mind said...

DANG TYPO in last answer....

*as long as it IS WELL WRITTEN!

Reading by the Book said...

1. C
2. A
3. A
4. C
5. I am kind of sick of ex-military using BDSM as a fall back. I want more sexy cowboys

Debbie Lou M said...

1. Name recognition, Recommendations, Genre
2. Multiple Genres
3. Both
4. 11 or more
5. A, B, D
6. So far I past, I know! lol If there is a genre I think I gets used too much it is Amish. The authors I mostly read,don't don't write Amish. But in the Inspiration genre, too many are writing Amish. A story line that I enjoy reading, but sometimes I think "grow up" is man/woman, had bad experience with man/woman and carry it through their whole life. But of course, not too tired of it to read it over and over! lol

Phyllis said...

Sylvia - I love your post. Great Topic!

As a writer,I am very interested in reading what the readers are telling us.

As a reader, I mostly stick with the genre I write, but I do venture off in all the genre's when the blurb gets my attention. I've never been a vampire or zombie fan.

I have books all over the house, but for me to settle down to do nothing but read is near impossible, that is why I am a HUGE fan of audible books. I can still do chores or run errands. I can even relax, close my eyes and turn away the outside world to listen to a good story.

Kimberly Dawn said...

1. C for the most part. Although A and B do come into play often.
2. A
3. C
4. B
5. A
6. There isn't really anything I am sick of reading about.

AquarianDancer said...

1) How do you choose an author? A-C. I start with authors I know & love. Next I go to authors that interact with the same blogs, authors and readers. Then I go for name recognition. Finally, if I like a cover/blurb in stores, I'll try it out.

2) Do you read: A bit of everything.

3) Do you read: I prefer paper or audio, but if the book is only available in e-book, I will read it in Kindle.

4) How many books a month do you read? Between 10 & 15, usually.

5) What interests you the most in the story? I like the way all of those elements fit together to create a story. For me, it is about how true the characters are to their own personalities and circumstances. A sense of believability, if you will.

6) Bonus Round – Is there one plot device that you are sick of reading about? What is it and why? What do you wish writers would write more stories about? While I understand that women need to be powerful and strong, I cannot stand when they are intractable! The same goes for men, really. In love, there have to be compromises.

AquarianDancer at gmail dot com

Sylvia said...

Kimberly, I know you read a lot of books so I'm glad you're here and gave me your answers. Thanks for participating.

Sylvia said...

Mayas, Thanks for stopping by. Just like Kimberly I know you read a lot of books and your input is invaluable. I'm going to tally this up and then probably write an article or blog about the numbers. Thanks!

Sylvia said...

Debbie, Thanks for participating. I'm leery of reading an Amish romance and I refuse to watch the Amish Mafia stories on TV. They are kind of scary. Yes, I'm a big wimp and don't really do mean stories very well.

Sylvia said...

Phyllis, I love Audio books. If I'm in the car there is an audio book on. Working around the house, I'm too busy flitting from one room to the next, so that would be hard. I've heard that Amazon is coming out with a kindle that will play audio books. I think that will boost sales.

Sylvia said...

Hi Kimberly Dawn, So good to see you here. Thanks for your response and I can't wait to tally this up and see if I learn anything from it.

Sylvia said...

Aquarian Dancer, Thanks for participating. I agree with you that both characters need to learn to work together to make each other happy. That's what a marriage is all about. Again, thanks for being here.