Last month I put together a brief survey to find out how people discover new books and authors. One of the biggest challenges new authors are facing, is getting the word out about their work, regardless of whether they are self-published or going with a traditional publisher. Increasingly, authors have to do a significant amount of legwork in terms of promotion as marketing and advertising budgets are widely slashed.
However, most self-published authors don’t have a particularly detailed understanding of their market. Either they haven’t thought to find out, or simply don’t know where to start. It’s understandable – we didn’t get into writing in order to become expert marketers – but it is something that we just have to get to grips with. So I thought I’d start my own journey towards understanding by asking people where they find out about new books and authors.
Question 1: What genres of fiction do you enjoy reading?
The most popular genres were Science Fiction and Fantasy; the least popular were Western, Chick Lit, Romance, and Horror.
Question 2: Where do you find about new books and new authors?
The second question asked people to rate how frequently they found new books or authors via different methods. There’s bad news for self-publishers here: The most popular ways to find new authors remains word of mouth, browsing in a bricks and mortar bookshop, browsing in an online bookshop and newspaper reviews.
Now, my sample size was quite small, just 238 responses. But it echoes Verso Digital’s 2011Survey of Book-Buying Behavior, released last month, which polled 2,200 respondents. Verso Digital found that most of their respondents found new books through personal recommendation (49.2%), bookstore staff recommendations (30.8%), advertising (24.4%, and a source I forgot to add in), search engines (21.6% and ditto). 11.8% found new books through social networks and 12.1% via blogs. Book reviews accounted for 18.9%.
There are a lot more interesting nuggets in the report, so it’s well worth a flick through the slides. Conclusions: Personal recommendation most important for self-publishers
The results of this survey are a bit of a mixed bag for self-publishers. For most of us it’s impossible to get our books into prominent positions in bookshops either offline or on, and even harder to get newspaper reviews. The places where it’s easy for us to gain access, such as GoodReads, Twitter, LibraryThing, Facebook and on our own blog simply aren’t that influential. It’s disappointing, because these are places where authors can be very proactive.
So what are we left with? Both my graph and the Verso Digital figures show that self-published authors should focus on encouraging people to make personal recommendations for their work, as that is still the most important way that people find new authors and books. Simply telling your friends that you recently read a book and loved it appears to be the single most important thing one can do to help an author along.
By SUW, re-blogged, first published 24/02/2012
Roughly 12% social network, 12% blog and 16% Online algorithm recommendation makes up for over 40% of all books sales, which should convince to invest time into these marketing strategies as they are totally free, just the author’s time investment. Plus: over 65% of avid readers are purchasing their books online.
The Verso Digital Survey also shows where former Border customers went: mostly to online retail stores, such as Amazon or Barnes&Noble. Amazon makes it easy to send emails to your friends, acquaintances and family about recently purchased books with their form on their checkout page. Ask everyone who buys your book to fill out this window and send it to someone who might purchase your book too.