What readers want in 2017 - the survey results!


Thank you so much to readers who completed my recent survey asking them how they found books and interacted with authors.

It was a follow up to a similar survey two years ago triggered by pure curiosity combined with a sincere wish to give my readers what they want.

Headline results:

–  Fewer people complete surveys!
–  Subscribers read across a broad spectrum of genres
–  Email is now the most important source for learning about new books
–  Favourite price is now 99pence/cents but 3.99 is next favourite
–  Facebook and Amazon have taken over the world
–  You still like to hear about author’s current writing
–  Nearly all of you have read INCEPTIO!

So what were the questions and answers?

First, I asked readers to list their favourite genres. I deliberately did not give readers a prompted choice; I wanted to see what they came up with! Although a huge range including paranormal, military fiction and alternative history, the favourites were the ‘usual suspects’! First preferred genre winners were mystery, historical fiction and joint third, thrillers and sci-fi. Second genre choice winners were thrillers (by a wide margin), fantasy and historical fiction. Third genre choices were wider with historical fiction first, then fantasy and thriller joint second place and horror and mystery tying for third place. Honourable mentions go to crime, suspense and military and naval history.

Next, “Where do you learn about new books?” I didn’t include print media, only digital and social media; this was entirely selfish as these are the principal channels for me,

Email from author jumped from the 2015 level of least important source to top source in 2017! Promotions online and browsing internet stores came next was next with browsing in bookshops and email from bookshops/retailer next. Social media promo sites was bottom of the list Friends, book blogs and social media book clubs hovered between. In 2015 friends, book blogs, social media book groups/clubs, social media generally and browsing Internet stores were the main sources with email from the author as the least important. Browsing in bookshops/stores remains steady, but now seems slightly more important than recommendations from friends.

Virtually no change from 2015 about what attracts you to a book: cover, blurb, genre and known author, with the first very slightly more significant. I was again surprised by how evenly the top four elements scored.

How much you would pay for an ebook has changed considerably! A third of you opted for 99 pence/cents, with a quarter paying 3.99 pounds/dollars/euros. The next price level was 4.99, then 2.99. This compares with the 2.99 to 4.99 range in 2015 when the 0.99 share was only 7%. Comments were interesting… Q4 Price.

Watching book trailers has slightly increased; around 27% of you watch occasionally to extremely often but non-watchers total 72%. This is a shame, as they give a little frisson of what to expect. Some respondents didn’t know they existed. I should obviously publicise mine more! Here’s a taster…


To blog or not to blog? In answer to Question 6, readers seem to visit author blog sites less often than writers might imagine (or wish!). But while ‘Occasionally’ is still the answer for most readers (over 60%), more of you are visiting regularly; once a month 16% (in 2015 12%) and every week 20% (in 2015 15%). Not missing news was a prominent reason in the comments. But perhaps we writers should write more words in our books than our blogs?

Question 7 about the Roma Nova books was selfish, but it was nice to see that 95% of you who responded had read INCEPTIO! Nearly half have gone onto PERFIDITAS (43%) with SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO well clear of 30%. Happy reading!

Once again, I was curious about what readers would like in a newsletter. In 2015, the top three items were: author’s current writing, news about the author and author’s events. This year, author’s current writing is just ahead of news about author, closely followed by Roman facts/news. Author’s events had slipped back behind sales/awards of author’s published books.

So where would readers leave a book review? I offered three of the ‘usual suspects’ – Amazon UK, Amazon US and Goodreads, plus ‘Other’ .As in 2015, Amazon is by far the most popular place to leave a review (61% for the Amazon UK and US combined, with mentions for Amazon Canada in the comments). Goodreads holds up at 20% of the replies. Authors, including me, know reviews are life-blood as they help a book’s journey in the competitive sea of publishing, but appreciate they take a little time to write.

Readers who do squeeze out some of their precious time to write some words should be awarded medals, and book bloggers made saints.

Would you follow an author on social media? Facebook hogs the limelight; 85% of you go there compared with 78% in 2015. Twitter is not so popular with you; just over a third follow authors on Twitter compared with two thirds of you in 2015. Half of you followed an author’s blog in 2015, but slightly down this time at 41%. From the comments, a surprising number of you don’t follow social media. I’m doubly honoured that you like receiving the Roma Nova newsletter!


How I did it
I’m not a professional marketer, so I kept it really simple. The readers were self-selecting from my own newsletter subscribers. I used a free version of Survey Monkey which allows 10 questions and 100 replies. Questions attracted a 90-97% response by people taking part. All links have been deleted in this report and the supporting lists. You can find the 2015 survey report here.

So, an interesting result! Did it surprise you?


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, will be published in Spring 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

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