2014 Romance Reader Survey Results (Data Analysis)

graphs results 15789793_sHello, everyone. I hope you’re having a good holiday season. The results of the 2014 Reader Survey are in. We had 83 respondents! It was more successful than I imagined, and we got a huge amount of information from the survey’s 24 questions. Interestingly enough, the results were quite similar to the Romance Writers of America annual survey, though for our survey I asked more in-depth questions in many cases, and my analysis goes into more detail for publication.

Question number 1 asked about what types of books the respondent reads. A whopping 86.5% said they read fiction, 6% said non-fiction, and 7% said “about ½ and ½.” This was a screening question. If persons only read non-fiction, they were bumped to the end of the survey – the “thank you” page.

Question number 2 was also a screening question. I asked, “The last time you read fiction was:” and over 80% said “today.” Another 27% said “yesterday” and 8.5% said “about one week ago.” The final choice on the question was “One year ago or more,” and if a person answered with that one, they were screened out and bumped to the end of the survey. The point was to survey fiction readers with current interests.

Question number 3 was to screen out non-romance readers. Most people (53.5%) answered that they read a romance book at the rate of “two or more per week.” That was a big number, but clearly, the self-selected survey respondents love to read. Only two people said they never read a romance book. They were bumped out of the survey at that point.

The total bumped out of the survey by this point was 5, leaving 78 for the rest of the tally. Some people skipped some questions, but the average number of replies to the questions was over 70.

Question number 4 involved the sub-genres of romance books. It read, “Among this list, which romance genres do you enjoy? (Choose all that apply.)” Here are the results:

  • 53% read Domestic Discipline/Spanking;
  • 56% read BDSM;
  • 63% read Romantic Suspense/Thrillers;
  • 44% read Romantic Crime (including Detective, Cop and Private Eye stories);
  • 37% read Science Fiction;
  • 38% read Time Travel;
  • 46% read Paranormal;
  • 33% read Fairy Tales;
  • 25% read Age Play;
  • 22% read Medical D/s;
  • 37% read Family Sagas;
  • 38% read Western.

The last two choices were more general:

  • 56% read Historicals;
  • and (no surprise here) 73% read Contemporary romance.

Remember, this question allowed for multiple answers, so respondents showed they have varied interests.  Here are a few more details.

  • 94% of persons who liked Romantic Suspense/Thrillers also liked Romantic Crime books;
  • 95% of those who liked Age Play also liked BDSM; and,
  • only 79.5% of Historical readers also read Contemporary romance books.

(If you want another specific comparison, please ask me. I’m trying for brevity in this post, but there’s a lot of data to be had.)

Question number 5 asked if respondents read any erotic romance. Eighty-eight percent said yes.

Question number 6 was about partnership combos (this was also a choose all that apply question, so there’s some cross-over):

  • 97% like M/F pairings;
  • 30% said they liked M/M;
  • only 21% said they liked F/F;
  • and even fewer (13%) said they liked F/M/F triads (which explains a few of my books’ lack of success);
  • 51% said they liked M/F/M;
  • 37% said they liked M/M/F Mènage; and, finally,
  • 15% said they liked M/F/F Mènage.

Question number 7 was, “What format books do you read? (Choose all that apply.)”

  • 96% percent read ebooks (yay!); and
  • 59% read print books;
  • About 27% listen to audio books;
  • 95% of ebook readers also read print books,
  • while just 58% of respondents who chose “print books” also choose ebooks, so there’s definitely a divide.

Question number 8 asked about where people usually buy/obtain books. A big 97% chose Amazon. The next highest were “brick and mortar” at 30% and “publisher’s online store” at 26%. Of the publisher online stores chosen, an overwhelming number said, “Blushing Books.” Remember, this is self-selected cadre of volunteers.

Question number 9 asked about Amazon. Ninety-four percent said they buy Amazon books “like any other product” as opposed to using KU or KOLL.

Question number 10 found that if a reader was familiar with an author, they were 50% likely to buy the book when it first comes out, and a nifty 40% would pre-order the book. Only 10% said they’d wait for the book to be discounted.

Question number 11 was about unfamiliar authors. This was a pretty mixed bag of results. Thirty-four percent said they’d buy an unfamiliar author’s book when it first came out; roughly 25% said they’d only be interested in that author’s sale books; 21% said they’d wait for the book to be discounted; 17% said they’d wait for the book to become free; and a tiny number said they’d pre-order the book if the price was reasonable.
price 14884221_s
Questions 12 and 13, asked about prices for a work of approximately 50,000 words (175 pages). I thought that was middle ground. You can extrapolate shorter or longer work’s prices from these results. For authors they were familiar with, 31% said $4.99 and an equal number 31% said $3.99. No one said “free.” For authors that were new to them, 33% said they’d pay $2.99, and 20 percent said up to $4.99. No one said “free.” (Five people skipped this question.)

Question 14 requested respondents make a choice on grammar matters. Eighty-eight percent of those that answered said that grammar, punctuation, spelling, homonyms and continuity were “important” to them, as opposed to “neither important nor unimportant,” or “not important.” This just underlines the importance of having a good editor.

Question 15 was about the basis of book buying decisions. This was also a “choose all that apply” question, so there’s some cross-over here.

  • 74% make their decision based on the blurb; of those, 81% of those also judge by the cover;
  • 63% are influenced by positive reviews, and
  • 33% are influenced by negative reviews
  • 49% of those influenced by positive reviews were also influenced by negative reviews.

Questions 16 and 17 asked about how often people leave reviews. Eighty-four percent said they leave 3 or more star reviews when they can, while 56% said they leave negative reviews “hardly ever.”

Question 18 pinned down the review answers by asking, “Do you read product reviews before buying?” Seventy-nine percent answered yes.

Question 19 moved on to series vs. stand-alone books. By far, the majority (80%) said that it didn’t matter whether a book was a stand-alone or part of a series; they read them both.

Question 20 asked about social media. Most people (76%) use Facebook for exposure to new books (but that’s also where most of the appeals for respondents were posted). Second to that was Goodreads (42%). A significant number of people also turn to Book Bub, Book Gorilla, and Read Cheaply which are discounted book newsletters.

Questions 21-23 were optional demographics questions. Nearly all respondents said they’d answer the optional questions. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they were 36 or older. Of those, 39% were 56+. Of the respondents, 8 were men, and the others were women.

There were a number of extra comments left on the survey, but I’m not including them because some persons might feel it reveals their identity. I don’t know who these people are (the survey was anonymous), so even if I wanted to ask their permission, I could not.

So those were the results. For a PDF of the full results, please request it in email. I hope you found this helpful. I know I did!

Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope to do this again in the future – probably not every year, but maybe every 2-3 years.


35 Replies to “2014 Romance Reader Survey Results (Data Analysis)”

  • This is great information ,Trish. I have no idea where you found the time to write and compile all of this wonderful data. But I’m glad you did and that you shared it with everyone. Thank you 😀

    • You’re welcome, Melody. They were questions I wanted to know the answers to, and keeping the answers to myself never occurred to me. I’m a sharing kinda person.

    • You’re welcome, Katherine. As for your fairy tales… just go into whatever project you are inspired to do with your eyes open. I’ve written a few fairy tales, and one was my best seller ever. Don’t stifle yourself needlessly, but be realistic.

  • Wonderful information, Trish. Thanks so much for compiling and interpreting it for us. In addition, I found both Rollin and Tara’s comments of interest. When I read Rollin’s comment, I immediately agreed with him, but then I read what Tara had to say and realized that in fictional BDSM it’s possible to have a non-consensual relationship, whereas you wouldn’t in fictional DD. I’d never considered that difference before, since I viewed non-consent as its own animal, whether it was D/s, BDSM or DD, but Tara has a point. We learn something new every day.

  • Thank you for compiling the survey then collating and sharing the results. Some interesting information to be had. 38% choice of westerns was a surprise because my books in that genre always seem to do so much better.

  • Thanks so much for the survey and then collating and sharing the results. Some good things to know. I was surprised at the number at only 38% chose westerns, because I always seem to seel more in that genre than others.

    • You’re welcome, Leigh. Many of the answers were helpful, and some were surprising. It’s sometimes hard to tease out all the factors that make a book sell well. It could be that there’s some other aspect of your Westerns that makes them more appealing — the cover, the known quality of your work, product placement, are a few examples.

  • Thanks so much for working so hard to gather and put together all this information. And for sharing it with us. I wondered about the 8 men. Were they readers of MM or MF or both?

    • Normandie, I was one of the men who took the survey, and I can confirm I read every pairing except MM and MMF (not that there’s anything wrong with either one — they’re just not for me).

      So, that takes care of 12.5% of the male sample anyway:)

      (Trish, that you very much for conducting the survey and sharing the results!)

    • I crunched the numbers today (Monday), Normandie, and found out that 3 men skipped the question, leaving 5 answers. One hundred percent of the men said they read M/F; 20% (1 respondent) said he also read M/M; 80% read F/F and F/M/F; 60% read M/F/M; 20% (1 respondent) reads M/M/F menage; and 40% said they read M/F/F menage. And in the comments, one said he read F/m stories. I didn’t use the small letter naming conventions for this question, because it would have been unwieldy, but I thought this comment was a useful answer.

  • Wow and thanks for all the work you did. I’d love to get the PDF- authorjoellecasteel @excite dot com. Heh at the MFF- Kallista may be using that as a moment to rethink, but I enjoy being different 😀

  • Some interesting results. Only 5% read DD/spanking but 56% read BDSM? The two are so closely related. What makes for such a big difference? Here’s another. 63% read thriller/suspense but only 5% read crime? Not much difference in genre so why the discrepancy?

    • Thank you for pointing out a typo, Rollin! It’s actually 53% of the self-selected respondents read Domestic Discipline/Spanking. And only a slightly higher number (56%) read BDSM. Some people will interpret DD as BDSM, but I think most readers are somewhat more sophisticated than that.

      The number for Crime was also a typo. (Apparently, I should have had you go over my post first). I’m revising both numbers in the analysis now.

      Many thanks!

    • I’m reading a multitude of Sat Spanks posts now, and what seems to be a vast majority of the spanking scenes would be classified as non-consent if it happened in everyday life. As a BDSM writer who doesn’t write domestic discipline for exactly this reason (consent is important!) I don’t think BDSM and DD are closely related at all. (I also know this comment has nothing to do with the survey, but it hit a nerve.)

      • Vent here whenever you like, Tara. All comments are welcome. I can’t speak for other authors, but in my stories, I virtually always (not 100% of the time) have the heroine make a conscious decision to take the first spanking. Sometimes, it could be construed as duress, I suppose, because her alternate choice would be unappealing, but she always can say no. But there are a LOT of readers who want that first spanking to be forced because they are so involved in the story that they feel the heroine has it coming to her no matter that she protests.

  • Wow, Trish! The amount of time/effort you put into this survey is mindboggling! Thanks sooo much, my friend. Like Kallista, I might hafta rethink my planned M/F/F book… 🙁

  • I took your survey and I really appreciate the in-depth job you did both with choosing the questions and analyzing the results. Thanks also for saving me a whole lot of disappointment – I was planning a M/F/F book next. Guess I’ll rethink that!

    • I tried my best, Kallista. Thank you for your kind words. I know what you mean about the M/F/F books. Fortunately, I didn’t have one on my plan for 2015, so now I don’t have to trash the idea.

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