Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Reads What? Some Interesting Stats

Being that author person, the one who always wants to know what's on the other side of my mirror or window or door (choose whichever metaphor you like), I seek out articles on readership, who's looking at what. Does anybody actually read anymore? This question posed by someone who obviously doesn't. *sigh* Yes, it is sad. I feel badly for those who think that way, for all they are missing...but let's move on. The Article. I stumbled upon one published a couple years ago, (see link below) that focused on Nielsen ratings regarding mystery/crime readers. That is my niche, so if you aren't into reading mystery, don't write mystery, you may want to move along. :-) 

Nielsen colleagues dove into the task to gather stats, asking questions... How do you acquire your reading material? What type of mysteries do you prefer? Where do you discover new authors? Interesting results given in a beautifully illustrative graph (again, see link below) show a couple of important facts--at least for me as an author of mystery. One, over 60 percent of readers are ages 45 and up with 28 percent being 65 and older. Makes me think about my story details like how old should my characters be? Does it make a difference if I use modern slang or references to modern culture that the older crowd may not understand? I'm thinking not. After all, I'm of a certain age, and those things don't bother me. Another fact finding detail: 70 percent of those readers polled were female. 

Here's the real gut-puncher, though: many frequent readers aren't buying books. They get them free. Probably waiting for those deals on Amazon or participating in book swaps where you trade in your book and get another in return. Oh, and of course, let's not forget libraries. I'll admit, I get the budget urge to find bargains, freebies, and such. Confession: I don't use the library as much as I used to because I can't seem to finish a book in time before I have to return it, or I'm on a long, infinitely long waiting list. Also, it didn't surprise me to find that 69 percent of heavy buyers are expert readers. Reading does that to a person. Frequent reading = expert reader. 

The concern stated by the author of the article is that if the mystery audience is the older crowd, what happens when they, well, are gone? As he puts it, the genre will need some new victims. Yes, I can see that. However, what's to say that the younger crowd, when older, won't turn to mystery? I've certainly gone through my stages. For ten years or more, it was horror/suspense with King, Koontz, and Saul at the top of my list. When I was in my early twenties, it was romantic suspense with such classic greats as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. Yeah, I was certainly a romantic. Then, for the past twenty years I've pretty much stuck to mysteries of all sorts -- gritty crime, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers and of course, cozies for my "be amused and laugh and get all warm and fuzzy" moods. Authors like Patterson, Cornwell, Johansen, and Brown on the more serious side. Evanovich and Joanne Fluke, to name a couple, on the lighter side. 

So, what's an author to do if he/she wants to grow a younger audience? One suggestion is Wattpad. Yes, I said Wattpad. Authors like the one mentioned in this article ( Elizabeth Spann Craig) tried it out and gained lots of readers. Caution: readers, not necessarily buyers. It's an interesting social media forum where you can upload chapters of your work and readers will flock and send you all kinds of nice comments, questions, etc. With luck, the trolls will stay far away. Below, I've placed another link to tips on using Wattpad, for those who'd care to check it out. 

As for me, I'll trudge along, cranking out story ideas, writing those mysteries, hoping people will notice, enjoy, and read more. As you might know, often, it's not how great your book is. It's getting noticed. If you're not, then who will ever discover how fantastic a writer you are? (Says any author who doesn't find their work rise in the Amazon rankings!) 

Cheers all. Happy reading and writing!

Who is Reading Mysteries?

Learning about Wattpad