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August 08, 2010

The Results Are In!

Ad team By Elaine Viets

This spring, you helped my ad team with a survey called "Demystifying the Mystery." You told them about your mystery reading and buying habits for my two series: the Dead-End Job mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novels.

Some 300 of you responded. The results are fascinating.

You’re savvy: Some 98 percent of the mystery readers surveyed are "aware the authors receive no royalties when they purchased used books."

The survey didn’t say what you did with that information, but I know at least one reader confessed she "punishes" writers she doesn’t like by buying their books used for her ailing mother.

You’re connected: Word of mouth is critical for mystery readers. You rely on recommendations from "trustworthy friends, renowned authors or magazines."

You’re well read: The survey also found that most readers bought between 10 and 30 books per year. You bought books for leisure reading year round, but – good news for the heat-drained economy – you buy slightly more books during the summer.

Novel buying approaches: The ad team gave you these choices for book buying: chain bookstores, Bookstore local/specialty bookstores, online (Amazon, eBay), libraries and borrowing from friends. You chose chain bookstores most often. Online purchases come a close second. A hefty 39 percent go to local or specialty bookstores.

You’re in the web of information: Blogs, e-lists and websites play a key role in providing information about my books: some 35% of you first heard about my mysteries on the Internet. The rest of you learned about them through bookstore and library displays, (thank you booksellers and librarians), my former newspaper column and word of mouth. Keep talking up those sales, folks.

You have firm opinions about e-books: You believe "e-book prices should be lower than printed versions." You would "still buy the e-book at the same price as the print version if it was an author he or she already enjoys." Er, my mysteries are e-books, too.

You read me from New York to California: My home state of Missouri makes up 12% of my readership. But the top five states are California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida. I believe Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pa., gave me most of those Pennsylvania readers. Mlb

Your top reason for reading the Dead-End Job mysteries? You like the idea of me working those low-paying jobs. (Isn’t mystery writer low-paying enough? Do I have to break my back making beds in hotels and taking abuse as a telemarketer to keep you happy? Could I take a nice vacation in at least one book?)

Your adjectives for Dead-End Job series:

Humor – 38 %  

Clever – 14 % EV logo

Appealing – 14%

Insightful – 12%

That adds up to 78%. The ad team didn’t tell me what those other adjectives were. Perhaps it’s just as well I don’t know.

Thank you: I’m 100% grateful for your time. Your answers really helped me.


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Elaine, how industrious of you to do that kind of research. Thank you! And I hereby grant you permission to take a vacation.

Wow, Elaine, I've never known of an author doing this before, and it seems like a great idea. Will you let us know if it causes you to change anything you're doing in writing or marketing?

I'm re-designing my Website because the survey said it was too complicated and concentratig on blogging. I look at the Internet with new respect now.

Elaine, this is so cool--thank you for posting the results!

Harley, are you safely across the desert?

I think that a won low profile fabulous vacation is very well earned. Thanks for posting the results. It was very interesting. As to used book, my finances dictate that I have to buy some books used, but it's often authors such as Heather Graham, Nora Roberts,etc. in other words, the authors who I would guess are making a comfortable living at writing.

Cool - thanks for sharing the results. I can also tell you that you are extremely popular in Stone Harbor, New Jersey!

You too, Nancy P - Scent of Rain and Lightening is the favorite book of the summer there.

Kathy, do I need a spray-on tan and big hair to visit Stone Harbor?
Thanks for the news. That made my (sun)day.

Kathy, you made my (sun)day, too! Thank you.

I know nothing about birthing books but as a consumer purchasing a book has become very heady...nothing but decisions.
Loading a favorite book on an e-reader or visiting my favorite folks down the block to schmooze and fondle my next purchase. Should I schmooze online with my favorite author?
And the startling revelation thas books out of print that were so prized and coveted on e-bay are now available on, you guessed it, on the e-reader.
When it is all sorted out I hope that the personal touch will still exists with authors.
I met a delightful author, Teresa Burrell at a Barnes and Noble meet and greet signing. I was thrilled and bought her book The Advocate's Betrayal.
She has been a child advocate and champion.
I felt a little knowledgeable when she told me that she had just participated in the recent Thrillerfest.
When you begin to learn about the relationships between authors and readers it becomes thrilling because you have discovered a whole new world.

Elaine, the Insightful category was spot on because your novels champion workers. Everyone usually has to make a living. Some are achieving their dream jobs and others are working towards the day when they can too be acknowledged.
Thanks for a wonderful blog.

Interesting,,,,,,,,California and New York with Florida not far behine are our frequent out of town shipping.

Could I take a nice vacation in at least one book?
Yes you can, absolutely! Then if you want deadend job research, you could work on a cruise ship . . .
I commend you on researching to stay up with the trends. . . and right now I'm also enjoying the cat graphic (pretend cats help me deal with the lack of real cats in my life -- stupid allergies).
A friend sent me more photos from the conference (posted on FB and my website blog) -- now looking forward to K.C. in November.

Marie, as e-books become more popular, I hope I won't lose touch with my readers. Book signings are a good way to meet you all and I learn a lot from the things you tell me. So many of you insisted it was time for Helen to quit dating duds that I gave her a serious romance with Phil.
Hope you will keep coming to book signings -- or talk with us online -- as the e-book trend grows.

I hope we figure out a way to autograph books our readers purchase in electronic form. For instance--I have a Sony ereader that permits me to make handwritten notes on whatever I'm reading. If somebody came up to me with their Sony ereader and asked me to sign one of my books,using the little silver writing gizmo that comes with it, I'd happily do so, just the same as I do for physical books.

Or maybe there could be autograph pages on ereaders.

Or there could be custom ereaders that permit people to autograph the actual device on the outside of it--like signing a yearbook, kind of.

Or. . .there can be ways.

I am also heartened to have read that most of B&N's customers who buy ebooks purchase them while IN the stores, rather than on line! This is very great! B&B bribes them to get them there with, like, a free cup of coffee if you show them your reader, or with Fridays when you can download a free book if you go to the store to do it.

Thanks for posting the results, Elaine. I participated and thought your survey was wonderful for determining buying patterns of your readers. I'm curious though, did 300 responses exceed or meet your expectations?

And about you working the low-paying jobs...it's not so much that I like that you work the jobs first, but that you're WILLING to do those jobs. Your books help humanize the low-paying positions and put faces to the "invisible" workers out there. I've had some of those jobs myself and they're definitely not glamorous. I think you've started a ripple that has reached thousands of readers around the country, and if even one person has changed his or her attitude about the telemarketer, hotel maid or other minimum wage worker encountered today, then your books have made a difference...definitely something you can be proud of.

Elaine, I discussed the fact with Teresa Burrell and she told me that she prints book-plates for consumers who have e-readers.
I am not exactly sure how this works but she said people approach her at book signings and she offers her signed book-plates.
I expressed the concern that we might lose the personal touch with our authors but she assured me that she was confident that there was a future for hardcovers and e readers.
I just hope that people are not too lazy to go out and meet others. Making the effort to get our of the electronic comfort zone is of prime importance, in my humble opinion.

Thanks, Becky, for being part of the survey. My ad team says 300 responses is considered very good. I was sure happy with the results.
Mary Alice, glad my books are traveling, even if I'm at home. Hope I get to follow them to New York and California.

Elaine, I was interested to read that "Less is more" when it comes to complicated websites. Now I won't feel the need for moving parts or extra gizmos on mine. Thanks for letting us benefit from your results.

Elaine, the insights you offer about those under-appreciated jobs are so helpful. Your, "Do you know who I am?" is one of my favorite joke phrases now.
(BTW, Joel Ben Izzy graciously did NOT play that card. When he told me who he was, my jaw fell to the floor!)
Your _Murder with Reservations_ comments have helped me to remember tips for housekeeping, daily and at the end of the stay. On the last day I also left two of my CDs.
(Dr. Kim said they helped her with her English, always a good side effect . . )

Mary Alice at MLB, your service and dedication are the very reasons I have ordered Elaine, Hank's and Nancy's books from you.
When I received your books they are so beautifully packaged and the thoughtfulness comes through.
I do not see myself getting an e-reader anytime soon even though there are rumors about my upcoming birthday but I have to say I think I will decline the offer as I still like the personal touch.
And yes I do live in California and wish that Elaine could come to see us soon.

How great to know all this, Elaine, but wow, what an endeavor! And not dead end at all :)

Many of our readers, Margaret, do not have the patience or time or powerful computers, so they don't like to wait for the site to load. They just click on to something else.

I just checked it, and it was quick on mine, but there is quite a bit of content on that one page, so maybe that would be a pain, especially with dial-up.
When I put a bit of animation on the first page of my site, some people couldn't get it to work, so I added a "click to a simpler page" link.

Marie......and Elaine.....thanks so much for the kind words.......it is so hard to keep our noses above water in this year's bookworld.....I appreciate all the support from you guys.

In answer to the frequent question....yes, the mints have been packaged with each order for 20 years now.......we think you are sweet!

I decided in a moment of reflection today that the airlines are responsible for part of the recession. When I would fly home to Texas in the past, I would take an extra bag loaded with gifts--usually quite a few books as gifts among the rest--and bring back said back filled with books and gifts from family and friends.
Now, any gifts I buy have to be very portable or delivered locally rather than carried on the plane.

Anyway! Back to the topic at hand: I think your next dead-end job might be picked up to investigate something in a Left Coast beach town while on vacation . . . .

That's very interesting, Elaine. And it shows how important social networking is to writers to get their name out there today. Good for you for having readers all over the continental U.S.

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