Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Percentage of New Authors: Results

For last week's NON interview contest question, I asked what percentage of books that you read each year are by new-to-you authors. While I would love to ask this question of people who 1. keep track of all the books they read each year (as those of us who are strangely obsessive about these things do), and 2. who are not answering the question on a site based on promoting debut authors, to which, I believe, I get a skewed test group, I am, nevertheless, happy to report the results. I will have to leave a more scientific survey up to the professionals.

I had expected people to confess to about 25–35% of the books they read in a year to be by new authors, figuring low numbers due to the general number of books read by each person each year and how well the best-selling authors are promoted compared to the debut authors. I was pleasantly surprised when the majority of people (94% of those polled) responded that 40% or more of their authors are new each year, with the most people (37%) guessing that at least half of the books they read are by new authors.

I was also happy to learn that 25% of the people who responded believe that of all the books they read in a year, 80% are by new authors. Quite remarkable.

I wish I had more information to determine what the factors behind these numbers might be. Is it that the publishing industry will put more money behind debut authors than authors whose first novel didn't sell too well, meaning that the second novels of these not-so-well-selling debut authors aren't making it to the hands of the readers? Are the people who read 80% or more new authors a year dissatisfied with the books they're reading, and therefore not buying these same authors again? Are they simply reading so many books that they require more novels than their favorite authors can produce year to year?

Sigh. So many questions. This week's question (along with the contest at NON) should, at least, provide a more concrete answer, or at least fewer questions. So far, we have two genres tied for first: mystery and paranormal romance. The victor shall be determined (along with the winner of the contest) next week.

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