2013 What Readers Want?

UK MEET 2013 – PANELS / DISCUSSIONS

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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”.

Books:
• 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.

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One thought on “2013 What Readers Want?

  1. Gerry B.

    For me (personally), I don’t worry about what is popular of trendy–chances are I would know anyway or have any empathy with them, anyway. I do consider what readers will find authentic or credible about my stories, and that they are written to the best of my ability, but beyond that it is out of my control.

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