Monday, December 10, 2012

#Spanking Reader Survey Results

The poll is still up, but I'm going to write about the results because they seem to be fairly consistent even as more votes come in.

First, thank you to everyone who voted and to those who spread the word so that I got a decent amount of participants. I think 49 people took the poll.

I'm going to talk about each criteria in the order of most votes to least. I listed ten options and asked people to vote for their top three criteria for selecting a book. Some may have voted more than that, some less. This isn't super scientific, but I think the results still have some good information for us.

Book Description--35 votes. To me, this is good and bad. The bad part is that I hate writing book descriptions and I'm not good at it. The good part is that it's something a writer can control and change. I'm going to spend some time reading book descriptions on Amazon and see what catches my attention and what doesn't.

Would anyone care to share what it is about a book description that piques their interest? Does an excerpt help?

Read Other Books By the Same Author--32 votes. This is good news. I have noticed that in the "people who bought this book also bought" list on Amazon most of my books are cross-referenced with each other which tells me that people who like one of my books are likely to buy others. Yay!

Note: These two criteria, Book Description and Other Books by the Same Author, were nearly tied at 35 and 32 votes respectively and were well ahead of the next highest vote getter, which was theme.

I Like The Theme (i.e., cowboy, historical)--- 23 votes.  Now the question is, what themes are most popular? Is "married couples" a theme? I might do another poll on this topic, but feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Intense Spankings--- 19 votes. Interesting. What's considered intense? Probably a topic for another poll.

Cover Image-- 12 votes. This is interesting and I'm surprised it's not higher. You probably need to see the cover image before you click to read the description, but it only got 12 votes. I may test this theory by changing the cover on The Birthday Wish (again) to include a rear end and see if that boosts sales.

Price--- 10 votes. Another interesting stat. Is it fair to conclude that people will pay a bit more to read a book by an author they like that has a description they like and is possibly a theme they like? What do people think about 99 cent books? Do consumers think price is an indicator of quality?

Amazon Reviews ---10 votes. After all the angst and hand-wringing over few reviews or bad reviews, it appears they may not be that big a deal or at least not a big enough deal to warrant the aforementioned angst and hand-wringing.

My thoughts on these last three. Cover Image, Price and Amazon Reviews all got nearly the same number of votes. They are also all items which can be viewed at the same time on Amazon. How much, if at all, do the three things work together?

Romance ---8 votes. Hmm. Intense spankings got twice as many votes. Can we draw any conclusions from that? Is it that people read spanking books for the spanking and not necessarily for the romance?

Recommendation From a Friend-- 5 votes. Not sure what to say about this, though in real life I only have one friend whose book recommendations are similar to my tastes, so I understand this might not be a good indicator for many people.

Lots of Sex--  5 Votes. What? People don't want to read sex? According to the un-scientific results of this survey, they are 5 times more interested in intense spankings and twice as interested in romance. Again, not a scientific poll, but still interesting.

Author Interview on Blog--- 2 votes. Now, nearly all author interviews include a book description, so what I take from this statistic is that a clever author interview isn't necessarily going to lead to sales, but if the book description that is included with the interview catches a reader's eye, then they are likely to buy the book, so please don't cancel author interviews on your blog, just make sure they include a good book description.

Thoughts and Conclusions.

  • For me, the takeaway here is that I should keep writing books and work to expand my fan base. That's good news because that's something I can control and focus my efforts on.
  • I'm going to stop fussing about Amazon reviews. Not that I don't appreciate all the nice people who have written reviews of my books, because I do, but because I can't control whether I get reviews or not and what they say and it appears they aren't a huge factor in the buying decision.
  • I'm going to work on writing better descriptions for my books and I'm going to read a variety of book descriptions to see what catches my attention.
  • I'm curious about themes and which ones are most popular. Cowboys sure seem to be a hot topic.
Thanks everyone. What do you think? Any surprises here?


  1. From my personal experience, I know that a cover (and title) get my attention, but I base my buying decision on what the blurb says. Does it hook my interest? Reviews are helpful to me when the blurb info provided doesn't give enough information.

    Theme, I think, comes down to subgenre and trope, and it's purely subjective. What one person likes, another dislikes, although certain scenarios are more popular than others.

    With regard to price, I think there are several factors involved: the length of the book, whether it's an ebook or print and whether the author is known/unknown to the reader. There is a perception of value tied to length. Longer books seem to have a higher value to readers and so they can bear a higher price. Readers seem to place a higher value on hardcopy/print books over electronic versions. Finally, if they know an author delivers quality entertainment, they're willing to pay more. But a lower price can entice a reader to take a chance on new author.

    With regard to sex, I don't think that MOST women buy romances for the sex. They want a good story. Sex is the icing on the cake.

  2. Great post and great response by Cara.

    And for some of us, sex is the anchovy we pick off from our pizza slice because the majority seems to want it and it's hard to get pizza without it. :)

  3. Thanks for doing the survey and breakdown! Fascinating stuff. I'm curious about the intensity issue, if it's length of spanking, amount of pain, implements. Hmm. When I read a romance novel, I enjoy the sex scenes, and they're something I want. But weirdly, with spanking stories, the spanking is pretty much enough for me. I feel like I put in more sex (and/or more graphic sex) than I'd want to read in my spanking stories because I feel like readers like it. Maybe I'm worng.

  4. This is really interesting stuff, but for many reasons not surprising if you know the genre well. I have a few comments which may be helpful.

    Blurb, same author and theme--not surprising. I'm spending a lot more time these days on the blurb. My theory is that you want to pique interest without giving the story away. Make the reader want to see what happens. Once you know an author in this genre, you tend to gravitate to his/her writings. Makes perfect sense. Theme? Some people like DD, others really like pirates.

    Intense spanking and sex--surprisingly, not a surprise. I know from my stint at LSF that spankophiles want those scenes vividly described and tend to be less interested in straight sex scenes. The take away is: linger on the description of the actual spanking. Make it visual.

    Cover and price. Again, no surprise. The covers I see are generic for the genre. They lack distinctiveness. The cover functions as a mere mirror of the theme, e.g., cowboys, knights, pirates. On price I'm coming to the realization that in this genre, at least, it's tied mainly to length. If you give the reader at least 15,000-20,000 words, charge 2.99 at least. If you don't, you're selling yourself short. I also think that 2.99 is a price point at which a reader will take a flyer, that is, 2.99 tends to be chump change for the buy/no buy decision and a reader will say "why not?" Not so at $4.99. It's a much bigger decision, and the blurb, the theme and everything else have to jell to get the reader to push the button.

    Romance. The only surprise, but I now realize that there are two target markets, the spanking story market and the spanking romance market. They are different, even though there are some cross overs. With every new book I ready for publication now, I ask myself: are we going after the spank story crowd today or the romance crowd?

  5. I was one of the people who voted for blurb, and what I'm looking for is a sense of the tone of the book (whimsical, serious, etc) and I am actually interested in the plot line.

    I took a class on blurb writing and can share some stuff by email if you want, but one takeaway was - if a book's not selling, always try changing the blurb before you try lowering the price.

  6. I think Rollin is straight on about pricing. You have to sell a lot of books at 99 cents to make any real money (especially after you split it with Amazon and/or your publisher). Readers will take a shot at a book that's $2.99.

  7. I think that all of us who read about spanking consider it part of the romance. As to the intensity of spanking, I believe it has to be appropriate to the story. Discipline is hot but so is the erotic. If it is just gratuitis spanking, without love or romance it isn't for me. There has to be a connection between the spankee and spanker!
    Most of us will buy books that are reasonably priced. I never mind that middle of the road price.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm going to leave the survey up, though I expect that the results will continue along the same path.

    I'm willing to pay up to $3.99 to take a chance on a book. Over that, I pause a bit, but might go for it if I want to try a new author. I'm willing to pay more for books by writers I've read before. There's less risk.

    I'm intrigued by the intensity and sex issues so I might do more polling on those points.

  9. I don't usually pay more than $2.99 on a novella unless I adore the author's other works. I'm cheap that way. ;)
    Though if the sample drags me in I am more inclined to go for it. I was recently sent an email newsletter that contained a small paragraph. I followed it to Smashwords and read about 25% of the book. Now I can't wait to buy and finish it and it's the cost of a small paperback ($3.95 I think) so that made the difference. Other than that sex isn't that important in a book to me as long as there is intimacy and spanking. Though, I did recently read a novella that was only sex - like the entire story was one very long, very very detailed sex encounter and it was by far the hottest, dirtiest, story I have ever read. :P

  10. The cover is always the first thing that catches my eye if I'm browsing on Amazon, but I like to read the blurb and reviews first before I buy. I download lots of free samples too. I love it when the first few paragraphs or chapter hook me enough to immediately download the whole book. Thanks for posting the results! :)

  11. These results are indeed interesting, Celeste.

    For me, covers and titles in the genres I enjoy reading catch my attention. Then I read the blurb and check out the opening paragraph. If the writing grabs me, I'll buy the book.


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