Posted on March 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Jeffrey Bruner

An ongoing series of posts about results of our survey of 1,200 Fussy Librarian subscribers.

One frustration in our industry is that readers won't leave reviews. The reader survey data shows the extent of the problem.

Question: Of the ebooks you've read in the past six months, for what percentage have you posted a review?

  • None: 44 percent

  • 25-49%: 36 percent

  • 50-74%: 9 percent

  • 75-99%: 7 percent

  • All: 4 percent

So the numbers aren't good in this area. They're pretty terrible, in fact. With reviews, most readers don't think it's important to leave one.

So we end up with the extremes shaping the conversation — top heavy and bottom heavy with fans and haters and little in the middle.

Now I'm not saying that having all books rated at 3.0 is going to be better for sales — it's not.

But my theory is a book with more reviews (say 50) will fare better over the long haul than a book with 10, all other things being equal.

There's some similarities to this problem with readers' perceptions of what's a fair ebook price.

Just like we've done a terrible job of educating readers about the huge difference a $2.99 price can make as far as royalties, we've also failed to educate readers about why it's important to leave a review.

Here are some ideas to help build your review numbers:

  • Build your mailing list. At the end of every book, include your email address so readers can learn when you release a new book. These people will be your biggest fans and will be the most likely to leave a review.

  • Ask. If someone says they loved your book, whether it's in person or on Goodreads, ask them nicely to leave a review. Most of the time they'll do it. Also ask at the end of your ebook and include a hyperlink to the Amazon review page.

  • Library Thing. Take advantage of their early reviewer program, which lets you send ebook files to reviewers. In exchange, the reviewers agree to leave an honest review. I've had good luck with them. What's been your experience? Email and let me know.

The second half of our survey results this week has to do with why readers stop reading.

(And once they stop reading, remember the odds are long that they're going to come back and give you a second chance in the future.)

Question: What makes you stop reading in the middle of a book and not go back? Select all that apply.

The plot takes a turn that doesn't make sense: 54 percent

Spelling and grammar errors: 47 percent

Inaccurate technical or historical details: 28 percent

Too much profanity: 21 percent

Explicit sexual scenes: 22 percent

A character I like is killed off: 5 percen

I always read to the end: 25 percent

All of you who write by the seat of your pants, this is for you — readers are begging you to plan, plan, and plan more.

Get that story plotted out before you begin writing. Figure out your setups and payoffs. Determine the motivations of your various characters.

(For a great example in film, check out this thoughtful piece that breaks down Blade Runner and explains why it's one of the best science fiction movies of all time.)

Planning is also part of content issues with readers — they're more likely to accept profanity, sexual content and violence if you set the foundation for why they are necessary.

Yes, there are a few readers whose beliefs are such that a single swear word will cause them to stop reading.

But most see the novel as a contract of sorts between author and reader — it's only when you go far further than what they expect that they'll give up on you.

Finally, producing a quality book is all about planning, too. You need to plan for the time and money so your book can be professionally edited.

Studies have proven time and again that it's impossible to catch all of your own mistakes. A quality copy editor is worth his or her weight in gold.

Other installments in this series

What will readers pay for shorter ebooks?

Readers and free books

What readers say about ebook prices

All about that blurb

Categories: Reader survey

<p>The thing that usually stops me from reading past a certain point in the book is when the action (i.e., any aspects of the narrative that moves the story forward) slows to a crawl due to an abundance of detailed descriptive passages. For example, in a book I&#39;m reading now, two of the characters are on their way to a maximum security prison to interview one of the inmates. The reason for the interview is really quite intriguing and I was excited to find out what they learn during the interview. But the author spent about 2 pages describing the passing scenery during their drive to the prison when one paragraph would have been sufficient to give the reader a sense of the physical environment. The author tends to insert these slow-downs so often that I&#39;m finding it a bit irritating. If it continues like this, I may very well stop reading the book.&nbsp; But hey, that&#39;s just me. Maybe it wouldn&#39;t bother other readers. :-) &nbsp;</p>
Gary | 5/24/18 at 2:31 AM
<p>Nicely done, Jeffrey: But here is the thing: Readers who download our books on FREE and discounted or priced, are not obliged to write a review. When I buy a book, I don&#39;t feel that obligation. Why should I? I bought the book. The author gets the royalty. I was once trad published, but am now an indie author. My titles earn reviews or not. I appreciate every single one, good, bad, or indifferent. It is utter author hubris to suggest every reader/book buyer post a review. Until the innovation of digital eReader few of us who bought books ever wrote a review. We shared books we enjoyed or not by word of mouth. Besides, there was no place for a reader to post a review. Amazon&#39;s Kindle and KDP created the universe of independent authors AND provided a way for a reader to post a ranked review. Clever Amazon, because offering the reader a way to express his or her opinion drives that reader right back to Amazon and perhaps another purchase. You are dead on when you say indie books should be edited and proofed. However, even a perfectly rendered book will not be reviewed by every reader. That is a wholly unreasonable expectation.&nbsp; Cordially, Jackie Weger Founder, eNovel Authors at Work &nbsp;</p>
Jackie Weger | 5/24/18 at 2:31 AM
<p>I have to agree with these. I would stop reading a book for spelling &amp; grammar and too much profanity. This shows a lack of communication skills and limited vocabulary. As for the explicit sexual scenes, some things are best left to the imagination. That is what make reading fun, the ability to determine for yourself what the feeling and emotion is plus it stimulates the imagination. Also I find that if the book does not capture my attention within the first few chapters I will not finish it. There is too much out there waiting to be read to waste it on something you are not invested in.</p>
Deanna C | 5/24/18 at 2:31 AM
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