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Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Hard To Digest Discovery



I have a Kindle Fire, and I love the damn thing. My wife now has my regular Kindle. I use the Fire to help me edit the final step before publishing. I can do a final reading as someone would do that purchased my novel on Amazon, and bookmark, highlight, and make notes to fix the manuscript with later. That said, I’m a writer competing in a publishing market in turmoil. Hype, marketing, salesmanship, and ‘Fifty Shade’ lightning strikes seem to be the order of the day. I decided to take a little survey in the readership group I’ve always strived to entice, that I thought would make up the vast majority of sales for my action/adventure/paranormal novels.
I’ve mentioned I play basketball on the weekends. My buddy, Steve, and I have been playing over there for three decades. He’s a few months younger than I am, but we’re the OG’s (Old Geezers). There are others there we’ve played with since they were teenagers, and there are a new set of teenagers who have started showing up regularly. Not all of them show up every week, but there is a core of about thirty that show up on different weeks. I’ve completed my survey of these guys who range in age from sixteen to middle fifties. Steve and I are the only ones out there goofy enough to still play in our sixties. These guys are not dummies. Most are college graduates working in technical fields, and the high school kids are planning for college. I completed my survey over the past six weeks. Here’s what I’ve found out.
1.      They don’t read much for pleasure
2.      None of them own a reading device such as a Kindle or Nook, although a few own the latest cell-phone tablet like gizmos you can do anything on. They play games on them.
3.      They have no inclination in the future to purchase a reading device, and if they hear of a book coming out that’s interesting, they plan on waiting for the movie.
I believe you see where I’m going with this. My target audience doesn’t read, or at least a vast portion of them. When I was a kid, it was unusual for a guy not to read. In the service the biggest sellers in the ship’s store on board the Ranger were novels. We traded whole libraries of paperback novels around. This is by no means some all encompassing fact of life. It was enough of an anecdotal sample to get me thinking about why a lot of us action/adventure authors are going to have a difficult time selling e-books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other e-book outlets, when our target audience doesn’t own anything to read them on – and when they do own something to read them on, they do everything else on the gadget except read.
Strap in, my fellow action/adventure authors, this future novel selling gig is going to be a very bumpy ride. :)

On to the other front of this exercise in futility – the creation of unread e-books, I will be up over 70,000 words in the third book of my YA trilogy by the end of this weekend. It will be done in another week or so. Then, it will be on to trying my hand at writing a full length screenplay. Since my audience doesn’t read, I guess I’ll have to try the visual route.  :)

10 comments:

Vesper said...

Yeah, that's very disappointing. But I believe that girls still read a lot. In fact, it looks to me that the majority of the YA novels are written for them.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's something I suspected, V. I figured that group at the park would be a perfect sampling to get a read on. I guess I'll get a chance to try the YA market once again in short order. It was funny because I did get four terrific reviews on my novel HARD CASE from women. They liked my bad boy, John Harding. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Sigh! Although I know you're correct, it doesn't stop me from feeling a bit of weight crashing down on me.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Me too, Charles. Before, I thought of it as a tough market. Now, I'm wondering if it isn't non-existent, at least for authors without big time name recognition.

Jordan Summers said...

One thing you might actually try is fiddling with the genre settings on the bookstore sites. Your hero is a cage fighter/CIA agent. Have you put the book under cage fighting and spys or did you put it under thriller/suspense? I think it would make a big difference.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

This one's about readership, Jordan. If my target audience doesn't read, I could 'tag' it into eternity without success. But yes, RJ has done all of the marketing ploys imaginable, without actually lying about what my novels are about. This post isn't really about marketing though, my friend. It's just a small anecdotal sampling of male adults aged sixteen to sixty. It wasn't scientific or all encompassing, but it was a jolt of reality for me I won't forget. :)

Jordan Summers said...

I am sure it's a shock, when all the men turn out to be non-readers, but I think about authors like Barry Eisler, Matthew Reilly, Lee Child, etc. They have a following. The same 'audience' you're trying to hit. Figure out where there readers are and you'll find 'your' readership.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It was an anecdotal sampling, Jordan - and a rather humorous one, I thought. There's nothing really new about this, other than building name recognition as the ones you mentioned already have. I'm working on it. :)

Rick said...

That's a serious downer, Bernard.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's a small but unnerving sample, Rick. :)