Survey Results Revealed!

Thanks to the 311 readers and authors who took our Survey last week! I think we got some great data, and I have to say, I was really surprised! Before we get to the results, though… let’s announce the winners!

The author to win her choice of Bemis Promotions Services is Darynda Jones (45% of readers came from Darynda! THANKS! Shoot me an email and we can talk about how you want to collect!)

We have the following Survey Takers who’ve won (by random drawing) the fabulous Ruby prizes…

  • UNDER FIRE by Rita Henuber (Audio book)
    Amy S.
  • HER OWN BEST ENEMY by Cynthia Justlin (ebook)
    Tatiana L.
  • INTRUSION by Cynthia Justlin (ebook)
  • FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by Darynda Jones (your choice of format)
    Erin Bollman
  • SECOND GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by Darynda Jones (hardback)
  • CODENAME DANCER, Amanda Brice (ebook)
    Angela Silsby
  • COLOR MY HORSE, Bev Petterson (ebook)
    Sandra Woodrow
  • Liz Talley (Reader’s choice of book and format)
    Dawn Miller
  • BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, by Addison Fox (reader’s choice of format – available Nov 1)
    Lori Dillon
  • Cate Rowan (Reader’s choice of book, ebook format)
    Kali Robaina
  • TASTE ME, by Tamara Hogan, (paperback)
  • THE DANGER OF DESIRE by Elizabeth Essex (paperback)
  • GHOST EXTERMINATOR by Vivi Andrews (reader’s choice of format)
    Heather Milardo

And now for the numbers!

Breakdown of “reader Type”

  • Non-Author Reader 171 (55.5%)
  • Unpublished Authors: 80 (26%)
  • Published Authors: 57 (18.5%)

Books Purchased in 2011

  • Total: 25567
  • Average/Person: 82.47
  • Median: 50

Books Read in 2011

  • Total: 29735
  • Average: 95.61
  • Median: 60

Print Books Bought

  • Total: 12485
  • Average: 42.90
  • Median: 20

E-Books Bought

  • Total: 13093
  • Average: 55.48
  • Median: 25

Preferred Format

  • Kindle: 156 (50.16%)
  • Nook: 48 (15.43%)
  • iBook: 14 (4.5%)
  • Sony: 8 (2.57%)
  • Kobo: 11 (3.54%)
  • Smashwords: 7 (2.25%)
  • None: 67 (21.54%)

Recommendations (multiple answers allowed)

  • Recommendation by a friend: 262
  • Blog or Magazine reviews: 160
  • Ad: 178
  • Tweets: 36
  • Email Announcements from the Author: 79
  • Facebook Posts: 122
  • Book Trailers: 57
  • Price Points (e.g., Free or $.99 books): 122
  • Publisher: 31
  • Excerpt: 181
  • Bookmarks: 9
  • Author’s Website: 95
  • A Book’s Cover: 182
  • A Book’s Blurb: 181
  • B&N/Amazon/Goodreads (etc) Review: 164

How Many Times has Twitter Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 687 Times (by 68 survey takers)

How Many Times has Facebook Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 1897 Times (by188 survey takers)

How Many Times has an Author Newsletter Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 982 Times (by159 survey takers)

How Many Times has a Blog Post Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 2177 Times (by185 survey takers)

How Many Times has a Cover or Blurb Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 6921 Times (by259 survey takers)

How Many Times has a Review Influenced You to buy a book?

Total: 4698 Times (by256 survey takers)

How Likely Are You To Recommend a Good Book?

  • Often: 272 (87.74%)
  • Sometimes: 35 (11.29%)
  • Rarely: 3 (0.97%)
  • Never: 0

How are you most likely to recommend that book?

  • Face-to-Face: 241
  • Amazon/B&N/Goodreads Review: 105
  • Blog Review: 54
  • Twitter: 51
  • Facebook: 142
  • Other: 57

So what can we take from this?

  1. The ruby readers read A LOT!
  2. Bookmarks don’t necessarily influence readers to buy books. (Which isn’t to say you should stop printing them.  A lot of readers really like to collect them!)
  3. Word of Mouth is still the number one way to sell books.
  4. Ruby Readers are more influenced by Facebook than Twitter.
  5. A Good Cover and a Good Blurb will do you a lot more good (particularly to new readers) than just about anything else! I’d say the anecdotal evidence in our comments on Thursday fully supports this as well!

So did any of these answers surprise you? If so, will they influence how you market your books and yourself?



48 responses to “Survey Results Revealed!”

  1. Thanks for collating the results, Liz! So interesting to see that word-of-mouth is still number one.

    I love Twitter, so I was surprised by the relatively low numbers it drew with regards to recommendations and influence. Perhaps it’s due to the speed of Twitter–it’s easy to miss updates from people I’m following unless I’m glued to the site all day.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Vanessa, I was surprised by the low twitter numbers as well! I think that 140 Character Limit may also be a factor… With Facebook, you can say more to entice a potential reader into clicking/buying/reading more!

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      My thing with Twitter, and maybe it’s more about the rather insular tribe I follow than anything else, is that I see SO MUCH promo that any one message gets lost in the static. I can’t remember ever buying anything solely due to a tweet. I CAN remember vowing never to buy a books from certain authors because of a)how they represented themselves on Twitter, or b) how much promo they flooded my stream with. Gah. 😉

      It’s somewhat heartening to me that in these media saturated times, the old skool ‘recommendation from a friend’ is still way up there in terms of the factors that influence people to buy books.

      I think we also need to remember that we’re online, talking about books on a blog created for that very purpose. We likely skew toward early adoption in our use patterns. The latest industry figures I’m aware of – and this is pass-along info from a usually solid source; I have no cite at hand – are that 11-13% of readers read on an e-reader (though they buy 22% of the books). Bottom line, the majority of a traditionally-published romance author’s readership reads print. That’s three quarters of your market.

      Don’t neglect the meat-world. 😉

      • Liz Bemis says:

        Tamara — really good point. The people who took this survey are not necessarily indicative of the entire reading population. Sadly, it would be impossible to get a truly representative sample, as many aren’t tech-savvy and wouldn’t show up for it. But I’m thrilled that we got over 300 responses!

  2. Liz, amazing report! I am shocked at the number of books purchased and read as well. Admittedly, I read three books in a DAY this weekend, but that is far from ordinary for me. Still–GREAT information! Thank you for compiling this!

  3. Rita Henuber says:

    Great job Liz. Very eye opening
    I’m surprised at the volume of books bought and read and how close the number of print and ebook purchases are. Also surprised that for once I’m in step with others on how and why I buy a book. I’m very glad we had so many non-authors take the survey.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Rita — I also was surprised by the number of non-author readers we have here at Ruby Central! I absolutely think we should do this survey about every 6-9 months to see how the market changes!

  4. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Great survey, Liz! It’s good to know my lack of interest in tweeting won’t be the downfall of my career.

  5. liz talley says:

    I love that face-to-face recommendations still carry the most weight. Interesting, also, that twitter is less influential than facebook. With so many industry people recommending twitter as a needed social media, I find that comforting. I tweet, but find more and more it’s not about books.

    Thanks for the survey and I did notice a shift to those ebooks, but I have to say that most of the persons who read blogs are likely more technically savvy than those who don’t spend much time on the computers and feel perfectly comfortable using an ereader. In my recent experience with readers (in my neck of the woods), most don’t have ereaders yet. And oddly enough, don’t seem to understand my books are available on kindles. They are literally surprised they can get mine on an ereader. Wonder if this is something Harlequin needs to know.

    • One thing I’ve noticed is that Harlequin’s website is set up with two separate bookstores: print and ebook. It’s pretty easy to navigate between them, but if you (like me) click the “Book Store” tab at the top-left of the page without realizing that there’s an “Ebook Store” right next to it, you find yourself in the print world, and you might add print books to your cart without realizing that you could have just bought ebooks.

      It seems like there’s a better way to do this than separating the two streams of format.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      These are both really good points (and it probably couldn’t hurt to say something to your editor!). Also it’s good to have separate ebook/print book links on your website so people know they have a choice!

  6. Thanks for the survey, Liz! No surprise to see the continued importance of “recommendation from friends” and book covers and blurbs in the book buying decision. But I was surprised at the triple digit number that was influenced by “ads.” Wow. I wonder if this was point-of-sale ads or RT-type ads. Anyway, good info. Hugs!

  7. Thanks for doing this, Rubies. So interesting! Liz, love the idea of doing it every 6-9 months or so too.

  8. Well done, Liz. I’m sorry I couldn’t take part, but the data is interesting and useful. I’m thrilled e-books haven’t taken over the reading world. If my $7 beach-read goes missing while I’m away from my chair, I’ll cuss but not cry. If an e-reader went missing . . . Don’t even want to think about it!

    • Amanda Brice says:

      EXACTLY! E-books and e-readers are great, but I’ll still always buy both print and e-books. They both have their uses.

      • Yup — I buy print for books I think I’m going to want to study or re-read. For me, I need to physically feel a book to truly understand and appreciate it. There’s a sense of anticipation that helps build the climax as the book’s pages thin toward the end; that can’t be replicated with a progress bar at the bottom of a screen.

    • I lost my kindle for about thirty minutes a while back and I’ll tell you you’ve sworn I lost my first born. Luckily, an honest man found it and turned it into customer service. Whew.

  9. Amanda Brice says:

    Very interesting stuff, Liz! Thanks for collating!

  10. What a fantastic survey! Really great results. I love how much readers read, lol. A lot of work went into this and we so very much appreciate it, Liz!!!

  11. Loved seeing these results, Liz! And it’s good to know that good ol’ face-to-face recommendations are still number one!

    Thanks for doing this. I love the idea of putting this survey up periodically, as well.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Thanks, Tina! I do suspect that the numbers will be different each time we do it! (Skewing more and more toward e-book reading and online marketing!)

  12. Fascinating info, Liz! Thank you to everyone who participated. It’s really interesting to see how/when/why people buy books, and oh-so-helpful in planning those promo strategies.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Yup! For me, especially, it’s good to know how readers are getting to the books and how I can guide my author clients to those readers (or vice versa)!

  13. Maris says:

    Wonderful information. I noticed only 9 people stated they were infludenced by bookmarks. I understand that some readers like to collect them, and I do give some out when I give a talk, but when I attend a conference and receive a goodie bag filled with them, the majority end up in the waste basket. The ones I keep are usually the ones that have something that truly interests me on the bookmark (in addition to the book promo): things like recipes or how to get stains out, or any interesting info I might like in the future. Person to person meetings or recommendations influence me the most.
    Maris Soule

    • Rita Henuber says:

      Hi Maris, thanks for stopping by and sharing. Good to know about the recipes and other info on bookmarks.

    • I never thought about putting a recipe on a bookmark. That would so cool if writing a foody. Or even something a character enjoyed during the story. Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Maris — I agree. I think dumping paper products in goodie bags doesn’t do anything but waste trees and money. However, handing them out at a book signing can A) inform your readers about your backlist or upcoming books, and B) be a collectible. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Amanda Brice says:

        I agree. Indiscriminately putting them in every tote bag is useless, but having them available for those who want to pick one up (or handing them out in person) can be very helpful.

        I know it’s been great for me to have a handful in my purse for when I meet someone new and they hear I’m an author. I can simply hand them the bookmark. It gets them excited (this is not in a conference situation, but at the store, playground, dance studio, etc). Also, print readers often need the ISBN number to have their local bookstore place an order, so it’s very handy, even if it ultimately ends up being tossed.

        And I’ve found that libraries love having stacks of bookmarks on the counter for patrons.

  14. Great survey, Liz and interesting results. I too was surprised by ad percent. I guess if the dots are connected to the cover or tagline then it makes sense to me, because those, plus excerpts, are what makes me push the buy button.

    I’d definitely would be interested in seeing the ripple effect of the e-world on the publishing world on a quarter basis.

    • Liz Bemis says:

      Me too! These times, they are a-changing… And it’s interesting to think about the things we didn’t have 5 or 10 years ago that we CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT now! (The idea of being without my blackberry puts me into convulsions) 😀

  15. Sally Eggert says:

    This is so interesting, Liz–thanks for doing it!

  16. Annie West says:

    Fascinating results, girls. I’m impressed with the number of respondents you got! Brilliant.

  17. Elisa Beatty says:

    Very, very interesting, Liz! I must say I’m shocked to learn I’m only average in number of books bought, and actually a bit behind the curve in number of books read so far in 2011…. What an avid bunch of readers out there! Hoorah!!!

  18. Excellent survey, Liz. And now I can use the results to postpone my twittering. Yay! Great bunch of readers.

  19. I’m a published author and also spent 10 years as a market research analyst for a F500 corporation. Because the sample isn’t representative, the results are probably best viewed as possibly directional.

    FYI: I have results from a survey of 3,300 respondents that report how marketers are using social media to grow their businesses: There’s a surprising finding about the use of YouTube videos.

    The consumer purchase process is more complex than Promo Campaign=Purchase (as I’m positive Liz knows). For example, bookmarks are only one tool among others that help create awareness of your brand and individual books. (If anyone is interested, I have information about the consumer purchase process and branding on my website.) Having a good high-level understanding of how consumers make purchase decisions can help guide authors when they’re considering spending money on promotion.

  20. Interesting results! (And thanks for doing the survey, too.)

    I’ve found as an e-published author that printed excerpt brochures work well when you’re somewhere in person. It gives something concrete for a potential reader to hold onto, and it also acts as a reminder for later when they’re able to purchase your book.

    But I’m glad I’m not printing out hundreds of bookmarks anymore–save the trees, read an e-book. 🙂

  21. […] the results of that survey are available, I’ll post the link (and here it is).  I hope I’m not the only one who buys three times as many books as she has time to read. […]

  22. Interesting info. Thanks for posting.

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