Poll Results: Where Readers Find Books

A week and a bit ago, I posted a poll to ask people how they find new books to read. Because I’m trying to figure out how to spread the word about Deadtown, I wanted to get a sense of where to focus my efforts. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and took the poll!

The top three methods of finding new books to read were these:

  • Recommendation from a friend: 17%
  • Bookstore browsing: 15%
  • Previously read something by the author: 14%

In what I think of as the “middle group” were these four methods, which will be the focus of my promotional efforts:

  • Mention on social networking site (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.): 12%
  • Book review: online: 11%
  • Auto-recommend feature (e.g., on Amazon: Readers who bought this book also bought…): 10%
  • Read an excerpt: 9%

And at the bottom of the list were these methods:

  • Contest or other event: 4%
  • Other: 3%
  • Book review: print: 2%
  • Advertisement: online: 2%
  • Advertisement: print: 1%

See that one on the very bottom? The method that came in at a whopping 1%? Guess who’s wishing she hadn’t been talked into buying a pricey RT ad now. Oh, well. Look for me on the New Author Spotlight of the January issue. 🙂

There doesn’t seem to be one dominant method for finding new books to read, although I’d say that recommendations by someone whose opinion you trust — whether a friend or a reviewer — is right up there. Book people love to talk about their finds and are endlessly interested in what other book people are reading.

I realized I left a few things off my poll, including in-person bookstore appearances, workshops/talks, and conference panels. But no one mentioned these in the comments. If any of these are a significant way that you find books, I’d love to hear about it.

What does all this mean to me? I want to get Deadtown into the hands of lots and lots of readers, in the hope that they’ll enjoy the book, tell their friends, and watch for the sequel. Between Penguin and myself, we’ve sent out between 30 and 35 ARCs, and I have a list of about 20 reviewers who’ll get an early copy of the final book. I’m also planning to give away at least 40 copies of the final book — watch for announcements of contests.

So here’s what I’m planning to do from the middle of December through the end of January:

  • Review copies. As I mentioned above, we’re sending out quite a few review copies to both print and online reviewers.
  • A blog tour. I’ve got about a dozen blog appearances lined up and would like to have at least 20. If you’re a book blogger and you’d like me to do a guest post or interview, please contact me.
  • Contests. People like free stuff, right? I’ll be running or participating in several contests, ranging from autographed copies of Deadtown to bigger prizes. (Watch here for details.)
  • Free fiction. I’m working on a couple of short stories that I’ll post here to give people a taste of Deadtown‘s world. I also plan to post the first chapter about a month before the release date.

I hope that these strategies will get my book out there so that people will read it and recommend it to their friends. If you’ve got suggestions of anything else that would attract readers’ attention, let me know.

Interestingly, I got this in an email from Publisher’s Lunch last Friday as I was thinking about the poll results:

In the UK, a survey of heavy book-buying habits conducted by Book Marketing Limited and Lovereading demonstrated that while 56% of the approximately 1,300 respondents use the Internet to find out about books, social networks were less useful as a recommendation tool — only 34% found social networks as a whole to be helpful, and Twitter even less so (at 17%). The figures contrast with author and retailer websites, which 83% found “useful” when taken in total. (Of course, when Facebook now allegedly accounts for 1 in 4 pageviews, one could argue about what the definition of a website is these days, especially with specific author pages set up as “fan” sites that attract sizable traffic.)

I haven’t figured out yet what to make of this report. It’s odd that the write-up doesn’t mention publisher sites or review sites/blogs — just social networking sites, author sites, and retailer sites. Personally, I usually check out review sites first and then, if I’m interested in a book, look at the author’s site. I’d also be interested to see the survey results broken down by genre. Are the urban fantasy readers I’m trying to reach more likely to be plugged into social networking sites than, say, readers of historical nonfiction?

At any rate, I guess I’d better add “create Facebook fan page” to my to-do list. 🙂


About nancyholzner

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