Reader Survey Part 2 – Isn’t This Interesting?

I’ve been pondering my reader survey results for another week, and I think you’ll join me in confusion land when you hear what I learned from the rest of the responses.  Meanwhile, if you missed Part 1, read it here.

When we left our discussion last week, I teased you about being surprised about comments on book reviews.  I admit, I’m still surprised.  It’s not your responses, so much as what they mean for the book industry.

In Question 2, where you find your next read, only a quarter of you indicated that you used book reviews or book review bloggers’ recommendations to help you with your selection.  Hhmmm…  and yet… every distribution website and physical retail location relies heavily on reviews, stars and ratings to decide what rises to the top of the listing heap.

Let me explain.  Let’s say a certain seller of books online has a Top 100 list.  Where does that list come from?  In part, it’s a secret formula, an algorithm they don’t share for proprietary reasons, because then some people would (unfortunately) try to game their way to the top.  (Yes, sadly, this happens, and more often than you would like to think.)

That secret formula, though, is based on units sold (easy to understand) plus reviews and ratings.  A book that sold 1000 copies in the first week, but had few reviews and an average of 3 stars, for example, wouldn’t necessarily rise as high as a book with 100 sales in the day, with 50 reviews of 4 and a half.

Or so it’s thought.

The same general principle applies for independent bookstores’ selections.  The number of these indies is growing rapidly, faster than the decline of big box booksellers.  Ditto the big box retailers who happen to have a book aisle and the mega warehouse chains.  They rely on ratings and reviews – from readers.

Back to the survey results.  More than half of you don’t read and rely on reviews.  There the results split – with over a third of you leaving a review for most books you read, and a third rarely leaving a review.

In the comments, a couple of you mentioned you don’t review books because so many other people already seem to be doing it.  Believe me, your opinion is uniquely you, and you’ll have your own perspective on a story from your life experience.  Do reviews, good or bad, matter?  This is clearly something I need to tease out further in a blog in the new year.  If you have an opinion you’d like to share now, please add it to the comments below!

Moving on – you are split down the proverbial middle on hearing from your favorite authors weekly or monthly, with only a small number only wanting to know when there is a special or new release.  My apologies to those who want to hear from me monthly – I’m fond of reaching out to you all weekly!  I like the connection when I get a comment in return (and it’s always me replying to you!)

I also agree, though, with the comments you provided about email overload and getting too many messages.  I too unsubscribe from authors who send me too many ‘buy me’ messages.  Or aren’t saying anything that makes me feel connected to them.  Or shares too much personal information.  It’s hard to be heard in our busy world, and it’s hard not to want to turn the messages off when there are too many.  A conundrum!

Writers and other creatives (20% of you) who answered my next question about where they learned about their craft represented the many ways we learn today.  Books, downloaded guides, workshops, conferences, and blogs all ranked roughly equally.  This show me the many ways I can reach out to my fellow creatives to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned.  Expect to see more of these tools in 2018!

Finally, I left it up to you about what else you wanted to share with me about reading, and over half of you provided even more.  I, like you, fell in love with reading at a young age.  I, like you, crave reading time and never seem to have enough of it.  I, like you, want to be swept away in a story, whether it’s because of characters or their challenges or their place in the world.  I, like you, love romance and suspense and a satisfying happily-ever-after.

Thanks for being part of my happily-ever-after in writing!  I wish I could reach through the internet and give each of you a warm hug for being a reader!  Consider this a BIG HUG from me!

Happy holidays!  Yvonne

What interested you the most about my reader responses?  What would YOU like to hear more about in 2018?  Let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments

  • Patricia

    Reply Reply December 16, 2017

    Hi Yvonne – I did not participate in the survey but I can say that I sometimes shy away from leaving a review because if I happen to “know” the author or was “gifted” a book in exchange for an honest review – I’m often afraid to say how I really felt. If I agree to leave a review, I will, but I often skew it because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. There are some people who I know want to hear the truth and others who just want the review. I’ve declined to leave a review for a lot of books I read if I know the author and think the book was just okay. I really only leave a review if the book is truly awful or amazingly good. Or, if I personally know the author and think they won’t be offended by my honesty. Reviews are tricky, especially coming from fellow authors. We’re very picky.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Yvonne Kohano

      Reply Reply December 18, 2017

      Thanks for your insights, Patricia. Leaving a review for someone you know is always a tough decision. Even if most of what you say is good and practical, they might focus in on the tone and be unhappy with you. Plus, yes, we authors are picky! Without wearing a virtual disguise, it’s hard to be honest and real! I appreciate your comments! Best – Yvonne

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