Suggestions for Improving Our Reading Survey

Image from Shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock


Our survey on how people read books have received much attention. We’ve had over 100 referrals today from Facebook and LinkedIn, and it’s been a week since the survey started.

I’ve also received some valuable feedback on how the survey could be improved.

My plan is to create a new and better survey, while continuing to let the original run, too. This way, we won’t lose the original data. It won’t be consolidated either. The new survey will start over. I’ll go into the original survey and add the new survey to it, so anyone finding the original can also take the new one.

The purpose of this post is to give you a chance to provide helpful feedback, comments, and suggestions before the new survey goes live. (Doh! Why didn’t I do that the first time?)

I will consider all feedback, but may not be able to accommodate all requests (especially on occasions where two people offer contradictory suggestions), though I will try in most cases.

Multiple Answers

One suggestion was that some questions should allow for multiple answers.

Here’s a sample poll. You should be able to select two or more answers. I’ll make the new survey questions work like this, where relevant.


I set up the poll to block by cookies. It’s not perfect, but helps to prevent multiple voting by the same person that might skew the results. Do you have any strong opinions on this?

1. Which of the following methods do you use to read Kindle e-books?

  • Kindle Fire
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Other Kindle device
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Kindle for PC reading app
  • Kindle for Mac reading app
  • Android device
  • Other option not listed above
  • I don’t read Kindle e-books

Would you like to see additional options? If so, which ones?

Suggestions so far include Kindle app for iPhone, Kindle app for Android, and Kindle Keyboard.

Maybe it’s worth knowing both the main preference and seeing all devices used, but that would take two separate questions.

I’ll change this to allow for multiple selections (with no limit).

2. Which of the following methods do you prefer for reading?

  • E-book (any type of digital book)
  • Paperback (any type of softcover)
  • Hardbound (any kind of hard cover)
  • Audio book

The questions asks which you prefer. But I could change the question to ask which of these you read, allowing for multiple answers. If I leave the question unchanged, I think it should only allow for one answer. Maybe it’s worth knowing both the preference and seeing all that are used, though that would take two questions. Another idea is asking which methods would you not use.

Would you prefer the original question, or to change it?

3. Where do you prefer to buy your e-books?

  • Amazon’s Kindle
  • Barnes & Noble’s Nook
  • Apple
  • Kobo
  • Google
  • I don’t read e-books

Would you like to see additional options? If so, which ones?

Suggestions so far include Smashwords, Google, and Gutenberg.

I’ll change this to allow for multiple selections (with no limit).

4. How many e-books do you let your kids read per month (on average)?

  • 0
  • 1-2
  • 3-4
  • 5+

I can add an option for, “I don’t have kids.”

One issue is that it may depend on age… Another issue is that you might babysit or otherwise have an opportunity to let kids read e-books even if you’re not a parent… And what if the kids are grown up?

Would you like me to change the question, add more choices, refine the answers, or anything else?

5. How many books do you read per month (on average)?

  • 0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5+

Would you like me to change the question or add more answer choices?

6. Do you have Kindle Unlimited?

  • yes
  • no

Any suggestions here, like adding a Scribd option?

7. Do you read books by indie authors or small publishers?

  • Always
  • More often than not
  • About half the time
  • Fewer than half the books
  • Never
  • I’m not sure

Any suggestions?

Offline Feedback

One criticism was that this survey only reaches people who go online. This might be quite relevant for the questions regarding print books.

That’s a tough one. If you have any ideas regarding this challenge, please share them.

Other Questions?

Are there other questions that you’d like to see on the survey?

I tried to restrict the number of questions. My feeling was that if I asked too many questions, it may deter participation. I can include more questions, though. If you have suggestions, please share them.

One possibility is where to shop for print books: chain bookstore, indie bookstore, Amazon,, The Book Depository, the library, etc. If you like this question or have suggestions for more answers, please let me know.

Original Survey

Here is the original survey:

Here are the preliminary results for the original survey:

Here is a survey page on my blog. You’ll be able to find both the new and original questions here at any time (well, obviously, not until I add the new ones):

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section:

My Experience with Amazon & Goodreads Giveaways

Image from Shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock


Amazon has a new giveaway option for physical products, like print books. Scroll down toward the bottom of the product page to find this option.

Update: KDP authors can now run Amazon Giveaways for e-books, too.

Goodreads also has an option for authors to give away free books.

I’ve run several Goodreads giveaways and I’ve also run four Amazon Giveaways to give free print books away.

Here is how the two giveaway programs compare:

Note: As of October, 2019, the Amazon Giveaway program has been canceled. However, Goodreads Giveaways are still available.


Goodreads giveaways win when it comes to the author’s cost:

  • At Goodreads, you can order author copies directly then ship them yourself with the cheapest shipping method available (economical if you restrict the winners to your own country). If you live in the US, you can also ship to US addresses via media mail. (It may be even more economical to drop-ship directly to the customer, rather than order author copies to your home first. However, ordering author copies lets you inspect the books first.)
  • At Amazon, you pay full retail price for the books plus standard shipping charges. You must pay up front when the contest begins. Although you will earn a royalty, it will still cost much more than a Goodreads giveaway, in general.


Both Amazon and Goodreads are trusted by customers.

Although Amazon actually owns Goodreads, Amazon is the more recognizable brand. Readers who have Goodreads accounts trust Goodreads, but it’s harder to drive readers who don’t use Goodreads to sign up.

Also, Amazon ships the books directly to winners, and Amazon has a good customer service policy in case there are any issues (like damage during shipping or a defective book).

Therefore, I give Amazon a slight advantage in the trust department.


Amazon again has a small advantage with regard to time:

  • The big thing is that Amazon ships the book directly to the winner (with standard shipping) as soon as the winner is declared, which is pretty good delivery time.
  • Also at Amazon, entrants find out immediately upon entry whether or not they win. There is no delay. With Goodreads, you can enter a giveaway today and it might not end for weeks, by which time you’ve forgotten about it.
  • Amazon approved each of my giveaways within a couple of hours; Goodreads usually takes a day or more.
  • Amazon giveaways run for one week or less; most of my giveaways were over in a few hours. You can run a short-term Goodreads giveaway, but it will cost you traffic. Amazon giveaways can generate good traffic in one day (but see my Promotion note below). I usually run my Goodreads giveaways for a month to generate as much traffic as I can.
  • If you want to give out books in a hurry, you can choose an Amazon giveaway to award winners on a first-come, first-serve basis. (However, my recommendation is to use the Lucky winner option, where 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 will win. In my experience, the books still go out quickly. See my Promotion note below.)


There is a big difference between the audience for Amazon giveaways and the audience for Goodreads giveaways.

Readers enter Goodreads giveaways. They love to read books. They search for books that they are interested in.

A much broader audience enters Amazon giveaways. There is a good chance that many of the people who enter Amazon giveaways aren’t specifically looking for your book. They might just be hoping to win something cool from Amazon, and your book is one of many products giving them that chance.

This means there is a greater chance that your book won’t be read, that the reader won’t be familiar with your genre, etc. (That’s if you use the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. If instead you promote exclusively on your own, you can control the targeting better. But then popular is reduced to what you can achieve on your own.)


Goodreads lets you target giveaways by entering keywords. (Tip: First search the Goodreads giveaways to see which keywords are in use and how popular they are. Try to find popular keywords in use at Goodreads giveaways which are a good fit for your book.)

Amazon doesn’t let you target your giveaway. If you tweet your Amazon giveaway with the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway, everybody looking for free Amazon merchandise will see your contest. Some won’t be readers; some won’t be readers in your genre. Everyone at Goodreads is a reader, and with all the Goodreads giveaways to choose from, most will be readers. (However, instead of using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, you could promote on your own, though that will diminish the popularity of the contest, unless you have a great marketing base or plan.)


Amazon giveaways generate a lot of traffic in a short period of time IF you tweet your giveaway using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag.

I ran a couple of giveaways where every 100th entrant would win, where I gave away 5 books. Most of my contests were over (or nearly so) within a few hours. That means 500 people saw the book in a span of a few hours.

Goodreads giveaways can also generate good traffic, but it takes time. You get the most traffic on the first and last days of the giveaway, but all the days in the middle add up, too. If you run a giveaway for a whole month, you can get 1000 or so entries, depending on how wisely you select your keywords and how popular your book is.


Amazon giveaways seem to be popular. For one, Amazon is huge. You can win products at Amazon, shipped to you directly from Amazon. How cool is that?

There are some cool products in the Amazon giveaways. I saw one for a guitar. Great prizes put people in good moods.

Also, the Amazon giveaway is new, so it has people curious.

Goodreads giveaways are also popular among Goodreads members. And since the Amazon giveaway is new, people are still learning about it.

Both kinds of giveaways are pretty popular right now.


Customer experience in these giveaways is good in both cases.

Obviously, Amazon is well-known, well-trusted, and has a great satisfaction guarantee.

But Goodreads members love their giveaways, too.

A nice thing about the Goodreads giveaway is that you can ship the book to the winner directly, allowing you to inspect it firsthand and pack it nicely so you know that the winner receives a great copy of your book (no defects, no damage—if you pack very well).


Goodreads encourages winners to review books. Goodreads also selects winners who are more likely to be a good fit for your book or who are more likely to review books that they win.

Not every Goodreads winner posts a review, however. If you give away 5 books, you might get a couple of reviews. There are no guarantees, though.

Goodreads winners are more likely to post a review or rating at Goodreads. Very often, they don’t also post the review at Amazon, but it does happen once in a while.

You might think that Amazon giveaway winners would be more likely to post a review at Amazon. But the audience for these giveaways isn’t restricted to just readers, and the contest isn’t targeted, so it might not work out that way.


You can require people who enter your contest to follow you on Twitter. If they already follow you, they can still enter the contest. (Note that you can also waive the Twitter requirement.)

I tried this on a couple of giveaways. With every 100th entrant winning and 5 books to giveaway, I had a few hundred extra followers on Twitter in a few hours.

Wow! I thought that Twitter option would discourage entries, but it didn’t seem much different from my other giveaways.

You’re not “buying” followers. You’re saying, “Since you’re interest in this book, perhaps you’d be interested in following the author of this book.” And they can simply unfollow you afterward, if they wish, so really there aren’t any strings attached.

Since they are willing to win your book, they must have some interest in that genre or content, right? (Well, some people just want to win something.) So many of these followers are indeed relevant to your audience. Unlike all the promises you see of people who can give you hundreds of followers, this contest can actually attract Twitter followers who have some interest in books like yours. However, since the contest isn’t targeted, they probably aren’t as relevant as, say, Goodreads winners would be.

Here’s another way to look at the optional Twitter follow requirement. The people who are actually willing to follow you on Twitter are probably, on average, somewhat more interested in your book.

People who enter Goodreads giveaways are unlikely to follow you on Twitter. But they are likely to add your book to their to-read lists, which helps make your book appear more popular at Goodreads. Also, having added your book, they’re more likely to bump into it again in the future.


Both giveaways are convenient for customers to enter. They just need to have an account at the respective site (though presently Amazon giveaways are only open to US customers). If you’re driving traffic to your giveaway, people who don’t have a Goodreads account already need to sign up for one. They’re more likely to already have an Amazon account. Though very many readers do have Goodreads accounts.

Amazon is quite convenient for the author: Set it up in a few minutes and you’re done; Amazon takes care of the rest, except for promotion. However, if you simply tweet your promotion with the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, in my experience, that is fairly effective for the first few hours.

Goodreads requires obtaining author copies and mailing them yourself (or drop-shipping). It can also be inconvenient, if something comes up in your life at about the same time as the giveaway ends.


You have to promote the Amazon giveaway. However, if you have Twitter, you can tweet the link to your Amazon giveaway (you receive it in an email an hour or two, usually, after your giveaway is approved) with the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway. If successful, you can get good exposure through that hashtag for a few hours.

The truth is that you can sign up for Twitter for the first time, run a giveaway with 1 winner out of 100, include the option for entrants to follow you on Twitter, and by giving away a few books, you can have a few hundred followers a few hours later (depending on how successful your giveaway goes).

At Goodreads, you just need to select keywords wisely to get decent exposure for your giveaway.

In both cases, you can get added exposure for your contest on your blog, through Twitter of Facebook, by getting bloggers in your genre to mention your contest, and so on. (In fact, if you want to target your Amazon giveaway, one way is to promote it yourself instead of using the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag.)


At Amazon, there is no way to check the book beforehand to ensure that the book isn’t defective. However, Amazon has a great customer satisfaction policy.

At Goodreads, you can choose to order author copies from the publisher, inspect them firsthand, and ship them yourself. If you pack them very well, you’ll have peace of mind that the book will arrive in excellent condition.


Presently, only US residents (50 states + DC) can enter Amazon giveaways.

If you want to reach UK or Australian readers, Goodreads allows this. However, if you live in the US and allow international entries, shipping can get pretty expensive (and then there is the possible issue of a gift tax, depending…). Or if your book is available at The Book Depository (probably the case if you use CreateSpace’s expanded distribution), you might be able to ship your book internationally for free (though you’ll have to pay the retail price, and it may be higher than Amazon’s list price); and you won’t be able to inspect the books firsthand.


I wasn’t expecting the Amazon giveaways to impact my sales rank, but I ran four different giveaways and the sales ranks improved considerably soon after the giveaway was promoted.

You have to buy the books directly from Amazon when you initiate the contest. So maybe this impacts your sales rank. (If so, this luxury might not last forever.)

Another possibility is that customers who didn’t win the book went to go buy a copy.

Whatever the reason, you can’t expect a huge impact from this. For one, sales rank tends to quickly settle back where it had been. For another, it’s not a cost-effective thing to do if this is your main goal: You’re paying retail price plus shipping. However, if you’re running the contest for other goals and you happen to get a small boost in sales rank, think of it as a nice surprise.


Giveaways can net a few sales. There could be short-term sales from people who didn’t win. What you really hope for is branding and long-term sales from recommendations. That is, you hope the winners will actually read your book, and then you hope they’ll like it enough to recommend it. It’s a risk, and it’s a hope. Successful contests help with branding and recommendations.

Amazon giveaways may be more likely to generate an occasional short-term sale. Here’s why: When you enter an Amazon giveaway, you find out immediately whether or not you win. If you really want the product, but you lose, the logical thing to do is check it out, perhaps add it to your cart or even buy it now. But other people will just go enter a different contest instead; it depends on how much they really wanted that product.

Goodreads members can do the same thing with Goodreads giveaways, except that often you don’t find out if you win until days or weeks later. Amazon makes the decision immediately.


When I published this post, it appears that there is still another copy of my self-publishing guide available to win through an Amazon giveaway. If you haven’t entered this contest yet, here’s your chance to be a winner. Good luck! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of DATE / TIME, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules:

Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Giveaway Directly from Now You Can.

Giveaway SP Vol 1

No purchase necessary. See official rules:



Now you can give away free physical products, like printed books, directly from

Note: As of October, 2019, the Amazon Giveaway program has been canceled. However, Goodreads Giveaways are still available.

Amazon hosts the contest:

  • Amazon hosts the giveaway.
  • Amazon determines the winners.
  • Amazon ships brand new products directly to customers.

How does it work?

  • Find the US product page for a physical product available directly from
  • Update: If you publish through KDP, you can now run giveaways for Kindle ebooks.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Look for Set up an Amazon Giveaway. Click the gray Set up a Giveaway button.
  • Select Lucky Number or First-Come, First-Served. A Lucky Number giveaway will last longer.
  • Select the number of winners. For a Lucky Number giveaway, also select a number for which entrants (like every 25th entry) will win the contest.
  • You may add your Twitter account and require entrants to follow you on Twitter. This is optional.
  • Click the yellow Next button.
  • Complete the welcome page. If you used the Twitter option, the image will automatically be your Twitter photo. Otherwise, you’ll be able to add your photo on the welcome page.
  • Proceed to checkout. You pay for the books plus estimated shipping charges. Read the terms carefully.
  • The giveaway will expire one week later. Only residents in the 50 US states and DC can enter the contest.
  • Amazon ships the products directly to the winners via standard shipping (3-5 days).

You’ll receive a link to your giveaway by email, separate from your payment confirmation email.


Here are some things to consider when you promote your Amazon giveaway:

  • Use the words, “Enter for a chance to win.” Don’t say, “Enter to win.” The word “chance” is important. You don’t want to get into legal trouble because your contest was misleading.
  • Include an abbreviated version of the official rules and a link to the official rules. This is required in some states. Amazon suggests including the text, “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of DATE / TIME, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules.” Then link to the official rules at
  • Of course, you also want to mention the product that you’re giving away (your book, for example, if you’re an author) and link to your Amazon giveaway.
  • When you tweet about your promotion, include the hashtag #AmazonGiveaway.
  • Promote your giveaway through your blog, your Facebook author page, Twitter, your website, an email newsletter, getting bloggers to promote your contest, or finding sites that promote contests, giveaways, or free products. There will probably be new sites and blogs growing to promote Amazon giveaways, with some specific to books.

Click the following link to see Amazon’s frequently asked questions for giveaways:


Here is a chance to win a guitar. How cool is that? (Realize the contest could be over by the time you get there.)

Here is a chance to win a Little Golden Book for Disney’s Frozen (realize the contest could be over by the time you get there):

Here is a chance to win a rice cooker (realize the contest could be over by the time you get there):

I have two books in Amazon giveaways.

One is for a chance to win my algebra workbook:

The other is for a chance to win A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon, Volume 1 (realize the contest could be over by the time you get there):

Author Julie Harper has an Amazon giveaway for one of her cursive handwriting workbooks (realize the contest could be over by the time you get there):


Visit the Twitter hashtag page for #AmazonGiveaway:

Follow @amazongiveaway on Twitter.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section:

How do people read books? (Survey Results)

Survey Results 2


I recently posted a survey about reading habits.

Today, I’m sharing the preliminary results.

The survey is still open. If you haven’t already taken the survey, please scroll down to the bottom of this post.

The survey will remain open indefinitely. You can come back to check on the survey results at any time.

Find the most up-to-date results by scrolling down to the survey questions and clicking View Results.

I also have the survey posted on a Survey tab at my blog:

It would help to have more data. Much more data. But we have a start.

The more people who take the survey, the more meaningful the data will become.


Reading Method

Interestingly, there was almost an even split between e-books and paperbacks:

  • E-book 46%
  • Paperback 40%
  • Hardbound 12%
  • Audio 2%

This split can vary significantly by genre, but I think it shows that if you only sell your book in one format, you’re really limiting your potential customer base.

The audio book market might look like a slim slice of the pie, but there is also less competition within that market.


Reading Source

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority vote went to Kindle:

  • Amazon’s Kindle 81%
  • I don’t read e-books 7%
  • Barnes & Noble’s Nook 4%
  • Kobo 4%
  • Apple 3%
  • Google 1%

These numbers may change somewhat with greater participation, but I think we can expect Kindle to remain the popular favorite.

It makes you wonder how much you stand to gain by opting out of KDP Select. However, there is also less competition outside of Select, which helps authors who publish elsewhere.

Also, I must apologize for leaving out an option for Other. Smashwords, for example, generates some indie sales.

Some customers buy books in multiple formats, and unfortunately the survey didn’t allow readers to select two or more answers.

Another notable statistic is that 7% don’t read e-books. But remember, 54% of readers prefer a different format over the e-book. The print market is quite significant.


Reading Kindle

It’s all over the place! There is no clear favorite.

In addition, many customers read Kindle e-books more than one way, but the survey only allowed for one answer.

  • Kindle Fire 15%
  • Kindle Paperwhite 15%
  • iPad 14%
  • I don’t read Kindle e-books 14%
  • Other Kindle device 12%
  • Android device 13%
  • Kindle for PC reading app 9%
  • Other option not listed 4%
  • iPhone 3%
  • Kindle for Mac reading app 1%

This shows that it’s worth making sure that your book formats well across all devices. If you only format a Kindle e-book with one device in mind, it probably won’t be a good fit for most readers.

Note that 14% of those polled don’t read Kindle e-books.


Reading Frequency

The people who participated in the survey are readers. None selected zero.

Of course, that’s not typical of the population as a whole.

  • 5+ books per month 45%
  • 3 books per month 20%
  • 2 books per month 14%
  • 1 book per month 11%
  • 4 books per month 10%

More than half of those surveyed read 4 or more books per month.

Remember, though, most of the people who have taken the survey already like to read. If we can get more exposure for this survey, this may change significantly.


Reading KU

At this stage, 91% of those surveyed do not subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

What surprises me is that 45% of those surveyed read 5 or more books per month.

There are a few ways to interpret this:

  • Some avid readers are buying 99-cent books, so even though they read 5+ books per month, it doesn’t make sense for most of them to spend $9.99.
  • Some avid readers would love to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, but the books they really want to read aren’t in the program.
  • Some avid readers prefer to purchase their e-books, to keep them forever, rather than borrow up to 10 books at a time through a library.
  • Some avid readers prefer another subscription service, like Scribd.
  • Some avid readers aren’t eligible for the available payment options.
  • Some avid readers are upset about some aspect of Kindle Unlimited.
  • Some avid readers haven’t made up their mind about Kindle Unlimited yet.
  • Some avid readers haven’t heard of Kindle Unlimited.
  • Some avid readers don’t want to make the commitment needed to joint Kindle Unlimited.
  • A combination of the above.
  • We need more people to take the survey to get a better indication of the stats.

It seems that there are a lot of excuses one could have to not to sign up. So maybe 9% isn’t as small compared to 45% who read 5+ books per month as it first seems.


Reading Indie

This includes indie authors and indie publishers.

  • Read indie books less than half the time 33%
  • Read indie books about half the time 31%
  • Read indie books more than half the time 23%
  • Always read indie books 7%
  • Not sure 6%
  • Never read indie books 0%

There are people who never read indie books. They just hadn’t taken this survey yet.

Overall, there appears to be good support for indie books.

The leading answer (narrowly leading) reads indie books less than half the time, yet still does read indie books.

Nearly one-third of those surveyed read indie books about half the time.

61% read indie books about half the time or more than half.

We can see that some people aren’t sure if they’re reading indie books. Partly, it might not be easy to recognize all the major imprints, or it might not be well-known where the small publisher versus indie publisher line crosses. Or some customers just might not pay attention to how the book is published (maybe they don’t really care).


Reading Kids

How many e-books do parents let their kids read per month?

The two main answers are “not at all” and “frequently”:

  • 0 per month 48%
  • 5+ per month 32%
  • 1-2 per month 15%
  • 3-4 per month 5%

The predominant answer is a resounding NO! Some people feel strongly about not letting their kids spend too much time in the digital world (on top of video games, televisions, apps…).

It seems that children’s authors definitely need to make print editions available.

However, nearly one-third let their kids read 5+ books per month via Kindle. So there is a significant Kindle children’s market, too.

Obviously, things may vary somewhat depending on the kind of book.

Again, 32% seem to be a good fit for Kindle Unlimited, yet only 9% of those surveyed subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. If parents read a few books per month themselves and their kids read 5+ books, then wow, it seems like Kindle Unlimited would be a bargain. But maybe parents aren’t finding the books they’d like their kids to read in Kindle Unlimited; and we have that list of factors that I gave previously.

(At least one person answered zero because she didn’t have kids presently, but someone else may have answered based on hypothetical kids.)


Several readers described their personal reading habits in the comments section of my survey post.

If you’d like to read some of those comments, you can find that post here:


The more readers who take this survey, the better the results will be.

Thank you for your time. Thank you for sharing the survey.

New Questions, added 3/8/15:

Original Questions:

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section:

Survey about Reading Habits (How do YOU Read?)

Image from Shutterstock

Image from Shutterstock


How do you prefer to read books?

How often do you read?

Authors, would you like to know your readers’ habits?

Readers, would you please participate in a quick survey?

I’ll leave the survey up indefinitely, so anyone who finds it can take it. Just look at the top of my blog anytime you wish to find it (look for the Surveys button).

Here are the original survey questions:

You’ll see the results after you answer each question. Select the best answer.

Please take the survey.

And tell your friends.

And spread the word.

Authors everywhere will LOVE you for it. 🙂

After you vote, you can even share a specific question with Facebook and Twitter. Or you can share the post itself (with all questions included).

Copyright © 2015 Chris McMullen

Fiction Writing: Creating the Perfect Hero

This blog is worth checking out. There are several helpful, content-rich posts relevant for authors. This article on fiction writing is just one example. Easily worth a follow.

Fiction writing smolders down to the basic concept of good versus evil. A good story will include a hero and a villain duking it out in a twisted plot designed to keep the reader on their toes. The really good stories—the ones we can’t put down—are home to unlikely and flawed heroes, i.e. the perfect hero. But how do we as writers and authors create the perfect hero? Is there a formula? Or do they just magically spring into existence on the page?

View original post 1,513 more words

Kindle Unlimited—Amazon Just Paid out $8,500,000 for January, 2015


KDP Select Global Fund from July, 2014 thru January, 2015



Amazon has raised the KDP Select Global Fund significantly since the launch of Kindle Unlimited.

The monthly KDP Select Global Fund had been around $500,000 in the days of Amazon Prime, which grew to around $1,000,000 when Prime expanded to Europe.

This figure doubled to $2,000,000 with the debut of Kindle Unlimited in July, 2014, which was just a partial month.

It has grown fast since, reaching $8,500,000 in January, 2015:

  • July, 2014: $2,000,000
  • August, 2014: $2,875,000
  • September, 2014: $4,700,000
  • October, 2014: $5,000,000
  • November, 2014: $5,500,000
  • December, 2014: $7,250,000
  • January, 2015: $8,500,000

This suggests to me that the Kindle Unlimited subscriber base has grown tremendously.

Since Amazon is paying $8,500,000 in royalties through Kindle Unlimited for the month of January, 2015, this shows that this is a significant share of the digital market.

Not every book in KDP Select is benefiting from this, but very many are, which is why Amazon quotes a 95% (or higher) renewal rate in KDP Select each month. That is, most authors and publishers in KDP Select have been content enough with the program to continue their books’ enrollment.


In the days when it was just Amazon Prime, the monthly KOLL payment had averaged around $2 per book.

The KOLL payment has dropped significantly compared to those days, but borrows are way up (overall).

If your sales have held steady and you’re seeing those increased borrows, this is a great combination. In this case, the drop in KOLL payments doesn’t matter. There are many authors in KDP Select who are enjoying this.

Some authors’ sales and/or borrows are declining. But if so, it may not have anything to do with Kindle Unlimited. With so many other books being released and so many other authors marketing their books, sales have a natural tendency to drop off at some point, unless you continue to deliver fresh content to the market and implement effective continued marketing of your own. Plus, after January, many books’ sales tend to decrease. It’s a seasonal trend. There are so many factors involved, it’s very hard to pinpoint a single culprit when sales turn south.

I look at two things in a recent announcement from KDP:

  • The 95% renewal rate in KDP Select shows that the vast majority of KDP Select authors are content with the program.
  • This quote: “Total earnings on titles priced $2.99 or greater are growing faster than the overall average. The same is true for titles 150+ pages in length.” It looks like many serious authors with long-term goals are thriving in KDP Select.

KOLL payments have started to level off around $1.40 per book. In January, 2015, KOLL paid $1.38 per book. Here is the trend:

  • July, 2014: $1.81
  • August, 2014: $1.54
  • September, 2014: $1.52
  • October, 2014: $1.33
  • November, 2014: $1.39
  • December, 2014: $1.43
  • January, 2015: $1.38
KOLL Chart

KOLL payments from July, 2014 thru January, 2015


Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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What Should You Write about? (Topic & Genre)

Images from Shutterstock

Images from Shutterstock


When you decide to write a book, you’re faced with important decisions:

  • Which genre should you choose? Which subgenre?
  • What topic should you write about within that subgenre?
  • What features will your story have?

But there are other important considerations that go along with these, which are often overlooked:

  • Is there an audience for what I really want to write about?
  • Could I attract more readers by writing about something slightly different?
  • What are my marketing assets?

You’re not the only person who will read your book, right? At least you hope not!

So if you only write what you want to read, doesn’t that seem somewhat selfish?

You’re a reader, too, of course, which may help you, as a writer, develop a style and feel for how to write.

The challenge is to find the right balance.


Here are factors to consider when choosing your genre and topic:

  • Familiarity: Which kinds of books have you read? The more experience you have with the subgenre, the more you’ll be aware of readers’ expectations.
  • Ability: In which subgenres are you best equipped to write? Look at this both in terms of ability and marketing.
  • Knowledge: On which relevant topics, relevant for your subgenre, are you knowledgeable? Marketing is a factor here, too.
  • Research: You should do research for your work of fiction, and this can be very handy when it comes to marketing.
  • Assessment: What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing? when it comes to relevant content knowledge?
  • Goals: What are your writing goals? Authors with vastly different goals should approach this decision somewhat differently.
  • Receptiveness: How receptive will the target audience be to you as a new author? If self-publishing, you also want an audience that will be receptive to indie books.

One of my coming posts will be on the topic of researching your fiction book, with specific ideas for how to take advantage of this in your marketing. (Stay tuned.)

There are many advantages to thinking about marketing in the beginning, and not as an afterthought.

I’m not saying that you should write for money.

I am saying that you should think about how you will attract readers when you’re beginning your project, not after it’s done.

What if you could be helping to create interest in your book while you’re still writing it? That can pay big dividends when you’re ready to launch your book.

What if you could make a small change to your approach to writing that may greatly enhance your readership? If you knew this, would you consider it?

You can merge your marketing with your writing in small ways, without really imposing a business sense on the art of writing. In coming posts on the subject of fiction writing, I’ll reveal ways to do this.


Writers can have a variety of goals when they proceed to write a book:

  • Write leisurely as a hobby.
  • Write to earn good money.
  • Write to hone the craft of writing.
  • Write to experiment with a new form of writing.
  • Write to please a specific audience.
  • Write to prove themselves.
  • Write to get published.
  • Write to become famous.
  • Write to land a movie deal.

Chances are that you have more than one goal from this list. If so, you’ll have to decide how they weigh in importance to you.

(You may also have a goal that isn’t on my list.)

What you should write about obviously depends, in part, on your goals.


You may recall that in a previous post I announced that I would be writing a work of fiction. (Although I’ve written and published several nonfiction books, this will be my first novel.)

Not only that, but I will periodically blog about the decisions that I make as I come across them.

I’m presently deciding what to write about, so today I will use my current project as an example.

Writing is both an art and a craft, and that’s the way I view it when I sit down to write. But as I hope to show you, it’s possible to also consider marketing to some extent early on in the writing process, without sacrificing the artistic feeling for business. And these little considerations along the way can really help you share your passion with readers effectively down the road.

Choosing the Genre

I read many sci-fi and fantasy books. I’m familiar with these genres as a reader.

Both have significant target audiences, and a healthy percentage of that has shown willingness to support indie authors and even new authors. (I’m far from a new author, but I am new to publishing fiction.)

I plan to write a series, and this appears to be quite doable in these genres.

My background in physics lends itself more naturally to science fiction.

I also have specific plans for how to tie my research on the subject into marketing.

So my first fictional work will be a science fiction novel. Which will turn into a series.

(Each volume will be a full-length book with a complete story.)

Choosing the Topic

I want the story to plausibly obey the known laws of physics. As a physicist, I’m not willing to sacrifice this point.

After much thought, I’ve decided that the best way to do this is for the story to be set here on earth.

One of my goals is for the reader to feel like the story could really happen. Tomorrow. I want it to seem so real it’s compelling. You could be part of this story.

I have a very specific topic in mind, but I don’t want to reveal too much at this point.

As you write your story, you want to start creating interest in your book, but you don’t want to give too much away. It’s a tough balancing act.

For now, I will just say that the book will be set in the present day, and it will involve aliens to some extent.

Strengths & Weaknesses

I count my background in physics as relevant to science fiction, so I feel that can be a marketing strength.

So is my familiarity with both the genre and the content that I have in mind. I also have specific research plans.

Two of the story’s strengths will include curiosity and suspense. The topic will feature things many of us would love to know more about, so curiosity will be a natural ingredient. My intention is for the plot to eventually reveal something really big. Like, “That’s huge!” and “I can’t believe it!” So there will also be suspense.

One of my writing challenges will be that I’ve become accustomed to writing nonfiction for some time, while fiction is a somewhat different craft. For one, fiction includes a much wider variety of adjectives and verbs, and strong emotional elements that often don’t appear in nonfiction writing. I’m quite familiar with reading fiction, and I’ve studied the craft of writing fiction—and I have written shorter pieces of fiction in the past. These things should help, but when I start the writing, these are some of the challenges that I’ll face.

Target Audience

I find that it’s helpful to know who my audience is when I’m writing the book. And of course this will be helpful for the marketing, too. And the marketing should begin when you start writing the book, not after it’s published.

One of my target audiences is the slice of sci-fi readers interested in a present-day story that takes place on earth, which involves aliens.

But I also have a significant secondary audience: UFO enthusiasts and people who are curious about the possible existence of other forms of intelligent life in our universe. There are millions of people in this secondary group, as shown in the popular t.v. series Ancient Aliens which first appeared on the History channel.

Marketing Potential

This is a story that I will really enjoy writing, which is important.

But one thing that increases my motivation to write this story is the potential to share it with others.

One step involves researching the subgenre to check that there is a target audience for your story. Doing this also helps you learn the expectations of your target audience so you can better meet their needs.

Another step is seeing how your background or experience may be relevant when it comes to marketing.

And research. Research for your fiction book can serve as a valuable marketing tool. I’ve already identified material that I will read, watch, and study that will help me perfect the content. More than that, this research will also be helpful when it comes to marketing. One of my coming posts will show you specific ways that you can do research for your novel and use it as an effective marketing tool.

Also, I will write an entire series. (Each volume will be a self-contained, full-length novel.) In genres where series can work well, series carry some marketing benefits. There are a few disadvantages, too, and some challenges, but if you can pull off the series well, the pros can outweigh the cons.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Why Do Detail Page Views Exceed Clicks (KDP Select Ads)?



If you place an advertisement through Amazon Marketing Services (which authors can now do through KDP Select, for example), you may notice something odd.

You might see many more detail page views (DPV) than clicks.

What’s the difference between a detail page view and a click?

  • CLICK: A customer clicks on your ad.
  • DETAIL PAGE VIEW (DPV): A customer views your product page after clicking on your ad, without closing the browser.

How can the number of DPV’s exceed the number of clicks?

Suppose that a customer clicks on your ad, visits your product page, checks out another book, and then returns to your product page (all without closing the browser). This will result in 1 click and 2 DPV’s. If the customer leaves your product page and returns again (without closing the browser), there will be a third DPV. And so on.

This is actually pretty common. Here are a few examples.

  • A customer checking out your book may click on one of the books on the customers-also-bought list, then return to your book later.
  • A customer checking out your book may click on one of your other books on your Author Central page, then return to the advertised book later.
  • A customer may click on the back button on the browser to finish checking out the previous page, then go forward to return to your product page.

Is this good or bad?

If you have 2-3 times as many DPV’s as clicks, I think this is a good sign.

It shows a lot of activity on your product page.

Customers are showing their interest.

So if you have a high DPV-to-click ratio, but not a high sales-to-click ratio, it’s worth studying your product page closely and thinking of how to improve it. Those DPV’s suggest that customers are interested, but something isn’t quite closing the deal. Your product page is close, but not quite.

If your DPV-to-click ratio is about 1 to 1, customers aren’t thinking much about it. If your sales-to-clicks ratio is also low, something is making customers want to check out your book, but then they’re giving up on it right away. Maybe the ad isn’t sending the right message. Reconsider your thumbnail and title.

Clicks can exceed DPV’s.

It’s also possible to have more clicks than detail page views:

  • If a customer clicks on your ad, but closes the browser or goes elsewhere before the page fully loads, you’ll get a click, but no DPV. (This click still costs you money.)
  • If a customer clicks on your ad, goes elsewhere before the page fully loads, and revisits your page after 30 minutes, you’ll get a click but not a DPV. (DPV isn’t tracked in this case because the page didn’t fully load initially.) (This click still costs you money.

Repeated clicks don’t count.

It’s nice to know that if a customer repeatedly clicks on your ad, those repeated clicks don’t count as clicks.

So you don’t have to pay extra for them.

So you don’t have to worry about a single customer seeing your ad several times, clicking on your ad each time, and racking up a nice bill for you.

How do I know this?

I emailed KDP support and hit the JACKPOT.

That’s right: the jackpot.

I’ve emailed KDP support dozens of times over the past six years, and this is by far the most thorough, thoughtful, researched, and even enthusiastic response I have ever received.

Yes, I said researched. KDP spent an extra few days researching my question to get it right.

The response included several examples clearly illustrating cases when there could be more DPV’s than clicks, and vice-versa.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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