UK MEET 2013 – PANELS / DISCUSSIONS
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.