Monday, 14 May 2012

So what have I learnt?

As you might know, I recently ran a survey with the intention of getting to know my readers better. Except it didn't really work out that way. I was getting a low response rate, so publicised the survey anywhere and everywhere I could. This pulled in a lot more responses but not from my readers, just readers in general. So it became a "trends in reading" survey rather than just a "my readers" survey.

I offered a prize too, an e-book copy of Dark Steps. Congrats to Dara England on winning that.

Okay, enough pre-amble, here are the results.

Q1: gender?
  • Male : 27.3%
  • Female : 72.7%
What does this tell us? Nothing, other than women are perhaps more inclined to respond to surveys and/or try to win prizes?

Q2: age?
  • 0 - 18 : 3%
  • 19 - 35 : 18.2%
  • 25 - 55 : 63.6%
  • 56 - 75 : 15.2%
  • 76 + : 0%
What does this tell us? Nothing, apart from the fact that I was most successful at publicising the survey to people in my own age bracket.

Q3: where do you live?
  • UK : 24.2%
  • Europe (other than UK) : 9.1%
  • USA : 60.6%
  • Other : 6.1%
What does this tell us? That Kindle Boards, which generated most response traffic, is very popular in the US. The "other" countries were Australia and South Africa.

Q4: which e-readers do you own?
  • Kindle : 69%
  • Kobo : 0%
  • Nook: 3.4%
  • Sony : 3.4%
  • iPad / iPhone / iPod : 31%
  • None : 20.7%
  • Other : 10.3%
What does this tell us? The Kindle predominance was expected, partly because we all know it dominates the market and partly because Kindle Boards generated most response traffic. I'll be honest, I hadn't expected almost a third of respondents to have an e-reading Apple device. The "other" devices were an Entourage Edge, Android smartphone and Google pad. I wonder if there would be a swing towards more Android devices if I were to repeat this survey in 18 months time?

Q5: how do you PREFER to read?
  • "Real" book : 39.1%
  • E-book : 60.9%
What does this tell us? That I got a lot of stick for using the phrase "real" book to mean a physical print book, and should have included a "no preference" option. Given that this question was only asked of respondents who had indicated owning an e-reader in Q4, maybe I shouldn't be surprised to see such a clear result. But I am, because I own (and love) an e-reader... but still prefer holding, and reading from, a print copy. Maybe it's just me.

Q6a: what's a fair price for an e-book novel?
  • 99p ($1.59) : 3.4%
  • £1 - £2.99 ($1.60 - $4.79) : 44.8%
  • £3 - £5.99 ($4.80 - $9.59) : 51.7%
  • £6 - £8.99 ($9.60 - $14.39) : 0%
  • £9 - £11.99 ($14.40 - $19.19) : 0%
What does this tell us? That people don't want to pay a lot for e-novels, maybe figuring that they should be cheaper than print editions. And that someone thinks I should be giving away 85,000 words and three years of effort for 99p...

Q6b: what's a fair price for an e-book short story?
  • 99p ($1.59) : 82.8%
  • £1 - £2.99 ($1.60 - $4.79) : 17.2%
  • £3 - £5.99 ($4.80 - $9.59) : 0%
  • £6 - £8.99 ($9.60 - $14.39) : 0%
  • £9 - £11.99 ($14.40 - $19.19) : 0%
What does this tell us? Short stories and "singles" should be cheap. I agree.

Q6c: what's a fair price for a paperback novel?
  • 99p ($1.59) : 0%
  • £1 - £2.99 ($1.60 - $4.79) : 3.4%
  • £3 - £5.99 ($4.80 - $9.59) : 58.6%
  • £6 - £8.99 ($9.60 - $14.39) : 31%
  • £9 - £11.99 ($14.40 - $19.19) : 6.9%
What does this tell us? That people understand, and are accepting of, the need for a physical product's price premium. And that someone thinks I should be giving away 85,000 words and three years of effort for no profit whatsoever...

Q6d: what's a fair price for a paperback short story?
  • 99p ($1.59) : 34.5%
  • £1 - £2.99 ($1.60 - $4.79) : 44.8%
  • £3 - £5.99 ($4.80 - $9.59) : 17.2%
  • £6 - £8.99 ($9.60 - $14.39) : 3.4%
  • £9 - £11.99 ($14.40 - $19.19) : 0%
What does this tell us? That four fifths of respondents don't understand the cost of producing a print edition. Selling a paperback at £2.99 is just about the break-even point for me. I can safely say that the only way you'll be seeing short stories from me in paperback form is in a collection, where I can justifiably charge enough to cover costs.

Q7a: how many e-books have you BOUGHT in the last 12 months?
  • 0 : 4.3%
  • 1 - 10 : 30.4%
  • 11 - 20 : 21.7%
  • 21 - 30 : 8.7%
  • 31 + : 34.8%
What does this tell us? That e-books have really taken off. And that someone has bought an e-reader but no books for it...

Q7b: how many FREE e-books have you added in the last 12 months?
  • 0 : 8.7%
  • 1 - 10 : 21.7%
  • 11 - 20 : 17.4%
  • 21 - 30 : 8.7%
  • 31 + : 43.5%
What does this tell us? That free is a popular price point, but that some people just don't bother with freebies. Perhaps there's an assumption that free = rubbish. Further investigation is required, I suppose.

Q7c: how many e-books have you SAMPLED without buying in the last 12 months?
  • 0 : 30.4%
  • 1 - 10 : 30.4%
  • 11 - 20 : 8.7%
  • 21 - 30 : 13%
  • 31 + : 17.4%
What does this tell us? Either that "try before you buy" isn't as popular as I had expected, or that people usually buy what they end up sampling.

Q8a: how many "real" books have you bought in the last 12 months?
  • 0 : 17.2%
  • 1 - 10 : 48.3%
  • 11 - 20 : 6.9%
  • 21 - 30 : 13.8%
  • 31 + : 13.8%
What does this tell us? That people are buying fewer paperbacks than e-books? At least the respondents to this survey are.

Q8b: of these, how many were by authors you hadn't read before?
  • 0 : 34.5%
  • 1 - 10 : 48.4%
  • 11 - 20 : 10.3%
  • 21 - 30 : 3.4%
  • 31 + : 3.4%
What does this tell us? That people are less willing to invest in print books by authors new to them than they are e-books, presumably because of the price differential? Although I'm guessing the pleasure of holding a beautiful print edition in your hand from an author you love may also be a factor.

Q9: have you read anything written by me?
  • Yes, "Dark Steps" : 0%
  • Yes, "Turn Around Where Possible" : 3.7%
  • Yes, in "Unthology No. 1" : 7.4%
  • Yes, in "Streetcake" magazine : 3.4%
  • Yes, in "Alliterati" magazine : 0%
  • Yes, in "Artillery of Words" magazine : 0%
  • No, nothing : 92.6%
  • Other : 0%
What does this tell us? In general that I need to sell myself more but also that, given this adds up to more than 100%, some people have read more than one thing by me. Am I acquiring Constant Readers...?

So there we have it. Interesting? It was for me, even if I didn't learn about my readers per sé. I promise two things: firstly that these findings will shape my future output, even  if only in terms of pricing, format and markets; and secondly, I won't do another survey like this for a good long while, okay?