What do readers want?
Last month I surveyed my readers. I have a list of about 10,000 people, and I wanted to find out what they enjoyed about my emails, about my books and what they felt could be improved. If you’re a writer and wondering how to learn what your readers want, I recommend you try this too.
I asked the standard questions, like where did they live, what age were they, before diving into the hard stuff: who are your top three authors, and name your top three books. This last question really threw some people. I know, it’s like identifying your favourite child.
Some replies were golden:
- I have over 2000 books and you want me to pick 3??!!
- You must be joking 😉
- No, no, no! I can’t do it!
I created the survey using Google Forms, (free and super easy to use) and provided the link in an email to my list. I had over 70 responses, which totally blew me away.
If you’re thinking of doing this too, here’s my suggestions:
- Keep any survey short. Ideally 10 or less questions.
- Multi-choice is easier, but free text can give you valuable insights, so have a mix of both.
- Try the questionnaire yourself before sending to strangers.
- Use a beta tester – someone who’s not seen it before.
- Repeat occasionally, but not too often, or folk will get survey fatigue.
There are other survey generators. The top three are:
- Survey Monkey – free for less than 10 questions. You can’t download an excel extract
- Typeform – free and you can download an extract. Pretty. But very laggy to set up.
- Google Forms – easy to set up and download the responses. Free. Not as professional looking as survey monkey, but fine for a short survey.
As a thank you to those who took the time out to fill it out, here’s my answers to my own questions:
In which I answer my own survey
Are you: Male/Female/Other. – Female (I was serious when I put the ‘other’ field in; I have a good friend who’s going through a gender transition. )
Where do you live: – New Zealand
Your age: – 41 – 60 years – And no, not telling the exact figure; besides, it changes every year!
Your top three writers: Georgette Heyer, Diana Wynne Jones, William Gibson (also Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams)
Reading habits – how many books do you read in a week: 1 – 3 in a good week. Some weeks I’ll read less 🙁
I want to keep my newsletters relevant and interesting, please tell me what you think: – they are too frigging long! They take me AGES to write.
What information do you want to see in my newsletters – Reading recommendations. I’m always looking for new books.
I may repeat the exercise next year. In which case, I’ll try to be more innovative with my questions!
And for the few people who said they wanted to see jokes in my newsletter: