For What It’s Worth
There were 127 respondents to my survey about publishing, but the free account at Survey Monkey limits results to 100 people. All the other responses are sitting behind some Internet wall, trying to get me to spend $19.95.
So, below, are the responses I got for free. A very hearty thank you to everyone who participated. I won’t argue that this survey was perfectly-composed, but it was at least anecdotally helpful for me, and thought provoking. I assume I’ll be honing these questions over time and coming back with more questions.
52% of survey respondents buy 1-3 books/month.
32% purchase 4-6.12% purchase more than 7.
4% purchase none.
36% of these people buy between 26 and 50% of their books from independent presses.
29% buy from 1 to 25% independent titles.
22% buy 51 to 75% independent.
God bless the 8% who buy 76 to 100% of their books from independent presses.
Likewise, God bless the 5% who buy 0 from indies. Cross reference that with the 4% who buy 0 books, and that factors to 1% of the respondents who buy no independent press books.
No one skipped either of these questions.
Five people skipped the next question, which was:
Is the quality of writing from an independent press better (or more interesting, or otherwise more appealing) than writing from mainstream publishers?
Of those who answered, 48.4% said “No” while 51.6% said “Yes.”
85.6% of respondents consider familiarity with the author’s work to be a factor when buying books.
72.2% respond to reviews, interviews and “general buzz.”
68% factor in their friends’ recommendations.
63.9% consider the recommendations on blogs.
59.8% factor in samples from the book when purchasing.
45.4% respond to the cover design.
30.9% factor their friendship with the author or publisher into the decision.
11.3% do it, at least in part, as a general kindness for the world.
7.2% factor in the possibility of becoming friends with the author or publisher, and also
7.2% of the respondents want to ingratiate themselves with the writer.
Only 5.2% factor in advertisements.
Additionally, there were 14 other reasons provided, many of which I should have included in the first place. A couple of the comments are qualifications for the responses. These 14 are:
The jacket copy.
Price of used books.
Always wanted to read the book/fill in gaps in education.
The general and never-ending pursuit of understanding.
What press it comes from.
Allusion in other works.
Having money or not having money; when I have money (not often these days), I’m always playing catch-up with friends’ recommendations. (Prior to 2008, I used to buy about 10 books per month.)
Sense of the publisher’s community.
Blog recommendation is part of general buzz. Friend recommendation could be part of general buzz. I read “the most” as “at all.”
All of the above.
Friend must be one of several particular people whose taste I generally share.
Wanting to lower my amount of friends. Not wanting to have any friends. Hating friends. Fucking friends over by accident with book purchases.
Three people chose not to respond to that question at all. Three people also skipped question 5, which asked, “Do you perceive a difference between an independent press and a small press?”
52.6% do not perceive a difference.
6.2% agreed with the statement that “an independent press is basically a ‘zine.”
The follow up to this question asked respondents to identify independent presses from a list. I didn’t think much about the publishers I listed; I just pulled off the top of my head.
83.3% identified Dzanc as an independent press.
83.3% checked off Mud Luscious, too.
63.6% consider Dalkey to be an indie.
62.1% identified Coffee House as such.
60.6% said Copper Canyon was.
Only 56.1% consider Scrambler to be an independent press.
4.5% said Knopf was, 3% for HarperPerennial, and 1.5% said Random House was.
78.4% consider their experience buying books from an independent press as generally good.
20.6% said it was neither bad nor good.
1% characterized the experience as generally bad. (3 people didn’t answer.)
85.3% of the respondents do not run or work for an independent press.
14.7%, amounting to 14 people (5 people skipped the question), do. Six presses were listed (but I will not name them to protect anonymity).
82.8% of the respondents are writers.
17.2% are not.
1 person didn’t respond.
67.9% of the respondents consider their writing better than some of the people getting published these days.
32.1% are not better writers, as far as they’re concerned.
Tags: independent literature