There was a discussion over on Dean Wesley Smith's site, in this post, in the comments section.
I found a comment there about readership studies and the effect of promotion on reader's buying habits. Unfortunately, one of the studies was off limits, and although the commenter remembered a more recent study, she linked to this one, from 2009.
Yes, it's RWA (Romance Writers of America), so maybe their buying habits are skewed in some way, but it's interesting reading nonetheless. There are several nuggets in the study that are something to think about; not on a day-in, day-out basis, but to kind of tuck away in your gray matter. (Well, I'll be tucking it away in my gray matter anyway. :-))
Nugget the First
Again, these are the things that I noted; YMMV.
The first that leapt out at me was this one:
Type of Retailer Used Most to Acquire Romance Novels: •Mass merchandiser: 50.1 percent
Right. Wal-Mart, Target, etc. A little over half of those who bought romance novels purchased them at Wal-Mart. Not Amazon, not the B&N standalone store, not your neighborhood independent bookseller. Do I purchase the occasional novel at Wal-Mart? The only ones I've bought there are the Harry Potter novels, the (thickerer) paperback versions. Because I was too lazy to either drive to a store or go online. And because I live not far from (and used to work near) a Wal-Mart, so I'd go in for other things and then think about the latest Harry Potter; it was usually there.
Other than those, I don't bother. Again, this might just be romance readers who do this, but what do I know?
Nugget the Second
•91 percent are likely to seek out an author's previously published titles after reading a novel from an author they like
Ah, this has to be music to indies'/self pubbers' ears. :-) The more stuff you have out there, the more likely people are to seek you out. You've heard of those writers whom readers pick up without a second thought - Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, et al? If you put out a great story with all of your ducks lined up - formatting, cover, cover/back blurb, grammar, spelling - and follow that up with more and more of your stuff, it looks as if you have a good chance to be bought over and over. Which is a good thing. :-)
Tell a great story. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Nugget the Third
This is actually a nugget-and-a-half:
•88 percent are open to trying new authors
•What makes readers try new authors? Recommendations from friends or acquaintances and seeing the book on the retail or library shelf.
Unless I misremember (and that's always possible), there are a lot of readers in the fantasy fold who are also open to new authors. To see a new author go from a decent first effort and see that person grow is a fun experience. For me, and I didn't get into the series right from the get go, it was Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files series. The first book was a good effort; fun and funny, but I kind of figured out who did what early on. (That's strange for me, because I usually don't have a clue until the very end, lol.) Going through the other books in the series, his writing became stronger and stronger. The last one I read, Changes, was superb. Dear readers, I bought a HARDBACK of it, and I don't do hardbacks. Usually. But I had to know what was going to happen next...and wasn't disappointed, although the ending was a bit of shock to me.
As to the recommendations from friends bit...I think substituting Amazon's "Also Bought" stuff might work here. I can't go to friends for recommendations because they aren't interested in the fantasy genre. Family? Same deal. The wife of one of my husband's brothers said something condescending about the fantasy genre, so I've kept my mouth shut about books that I've read; she wouldn't appreciate them anyway, so why bother?
I found the study fascinating, and this is coming from someone who abhors math and anything else associated with it. Check it out and see for yourself.
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