What Readers Want?

Hi everyone,

Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you taken delivery of all your presents from the internet yet? What, you actually go to the shops to buy things? How quaint!

Last week I ordered pretty much all of Christmas online. It did remind me of the Christmas episode of The Good Life, where Margo cancels the order as the tree isn’t tall enough, so the whole of Christmas is cancelled. Lucky I’ve not put all my internet eggs in one online basket, and have ordered from a number of different places. *taps side of nose* see, it’s all go at Livings Towers!

Has it snowed where you are yet? In southern parts of the UK, so far we’ve only had frost, no snow as yet. I’ll say this and tomorrow I’ll be under two feet of snow, I just know it.

Without any further mincing about, I wanted to draw your attention to the write up of a panel at UK Meet 2013.

What readers want?

At UK Meet 2013, we had a discussion panel focussing on the reader voice, looking at what readers want in terms of author behaviour, interaction with authors and – maybe most importantly – the books they read. Here’s what came out of the debate.

Authors online:
• There is nastiness in every genre. The het author world is possibly more ruthless; m/m authors are darlings in comparison.
• Half the readers in the room followed blogs and most of them liked blogs.
• Readers found it both fun and frustrating when authors shared their personal lives with readers.
• Some readers wanted blogs, etc, to be more “professional”, concerned with writing rather than oversharing personal stuff, to the extent that they’d avoid blogs which weren’t writing related.
• Other readers felt that blogs were the author’s space (“their house”) and authors could post what they liked. Readers were free to read or not as they chose.
• Blogs, etc helped build up an image of authors although that didn’t always match the reality.
• Readers didn’t want to see authors (or a claque of people taking an author’s part) slagging off reviewers.
• Readers would stop buying an author’s books if he/she was offensive, eg name calling, going onto readers’ threads and making rude comments, being too defensive. They’d vote with their wallets!
• Instances of bad behaviour included outing the real name of a reviewer who’d given a poor review on Goodreads, sock puppet wars in all their gory glory, and threatening to sue a reviewer over a negative review. One reader went so far as to describe this sort of behaviour as professional suicide.

Author interaction:
• Readers liked authors to reply to their e-mails. Not replying was seen as a negative point, whereas getting a response to a fan e-mail really meant something.
• It was recognised that reader behaviour could be bad, as well. They needed to follow “rules of engagement”.

• Readers didn’t like finding a good story badly written/edited/proofed and vice versa. One said they would pay more for a quality product.
• Some readers wouldn’t stop reading a story just for the typos it contained, but would balk at badly content edited work.
• There were instances in both self- and publisher- published books of poor production values, but good production values weren’t limited to traditionally published books.
• Carina, Samhain and Riptide were cited as having good quality product.
• Readers would like to see more books about average people. Older characters, people with everyday careers, people with real bodies as opposed to bodybuilder/supermodel types. They also wanted more domestic settings, fewer stalkers and more disabled characters.
• Some readers didn’t enjoy storylines where characters suddenly found out they were gay after years of heterosexual life. They were also sick of gay books featuring evil women characters.
• Readers at UK Meet wanted to see a greater variety of English settings, not just London and the south east. They liked to see British authors sticking to their Britishness.

Other points:
• Readers didn’t like it when reviewers had clearly not read the book they were reviewing.
• Blurbs that didn’t match the content of a book were annoying for readers. Especially if the plot or character names were wrong.

Does this resonate with readers out there? Did you take part in this discussion? Are there other things which are really important to you as a reader.

Authors, how does this feel to read this feedback?

I’d love to hear from you. Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to pick up some more parcels from the post office depot. *grabs drop card and gets into car*

Until next time,

Liam Livings xx

8 thoughts on “What Readers Want?

  1. suze294

    I do like following blogs of my favourite authors, and seeing a small slice of their normal life does serve to remind they are human! Blog authors can put what they like, readers do have achoice to read or not (bit like moaning about TV programs – there is an off button!). What does annoy me is if a blog says this will happen on this date and it doesnt (post, review, comp winners, comp).
    I’ve always managed to not see all the slagging off instances – must be blind as a bat – though I do think both sides should always think about how they come across. If I dont like a book or I thought it was badly written I tend to stick to a ‘it didnt work for me’ response or nothing at all. I always think would I be happy to say this to the authors face. There will always be great ideas badly written and bad ideas well written.
    I agree with more Local writers using local settings, the dialogue always comes over better when its British English for a Brit reader I find.
    Anyway, some thoughts on your post. No snow yet on the balmy IoM, plenty of stormy weather though.

    1. liamlivings

      It’s important to do what you say you’re going to do I find. And it’s understandably a bit of a let down when people don’t.
      When it comes to online rows, I try to keep my posts positive and uplifting. If people disagree in comments that’s a good debate, but I wouldn’t continue with an online row. As the Queen Mum used to say, ‘Never complain & never explain.’
      Liam Livings

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