Friday Free-For-All – Are readers burnt out? #freebies

Hello, wonderful blog subscribers! Happy Friday!

What’s on my mind today is based on two recent book marketing experiences that raise big questions. So, I look forward to your input.

If you read these posts, you know I recently took my books to an International Guitar Festival in Dallas. It is huge. There were tons of people. It was there I first began to ponder the thought that, in general, folks don’t read anymore. Thousands of people passed by my table, and most looked the other way. It’s true most folks were there to look at musical instruments, but all of my stories have either a primary or underlying music theme, so they fit in with the atmosphere of the event. Yes, I sold a few, but for the size of the event, the sales were minimal.

Yet, because of a deep need to maintain a positive attitude, I have to believe there will always be a core group of people who love to read stories.

However, I found some statistics that support the idea that readers are dwindling in numbers.

According to recent book reading data, Americans read three fewer books on average last year than they had in the previous three decades.

According to the Pew Research Center Survey of American Adults conducted from January 25 to February 8, 2022, around a quarter of Americans (23%) said they haven’t read a book in full or in part in the past year, whether it be in print, electronic, or audio form.

So, what does that mean for us? Do we stop putting out new stories? Do we put out less? Do we put out more?

I know many of you write because of a deep innate need to tell a story, as do I. I’d dare to say most of us never think about who will read our books while we are writing them. In a recent interview, I was asked who is my target audience and do I write specifically for them? That question gave me pause, and I had to answer honestly. When I’m writing a story, I never stop and consider who might read it. I just write it. Perhaps that’s why I’m not more successful as an author, but if I get caught up in the commercial aspect of it, all creativity dries up. And without that creative spark, we may as well put our story ideas into AI and let a robot write them.

Now, I want to go a step further in this thread of thinking and talk about freebies. At one time, readers clamored for freebies and grabbed them up. But not now. There are so many books offered for free that it no longer holds any appeal or excitement.
I recently participated in two separate group giveaways. One was with the Fresh Fiction group to gain more newsletter subscribers, and the other was a BookSweeps giveaway designed to gain more BookBub followers. The Fresh Fiction campaign gained me a handful of new subscribers, for which I am grateful. It ran for one week. The BookSweeps campaign ran for ten days, and I gained a measly 32 new BookBub followers. That is disappointing and not worth the money I spent. The first campaign I ran with BookSweeps a few years back gained me over 400 new email subscribers. So, why the big drop in interest?

It’s just my own theory, but I believe it’s directly because there’s an author on every corner giving away a book, trying to gain some traction. Readers are numb to the giveaways.

That brings me to the question of where do we go from here? How can we get people engaged and interested in reading our stories? Are we beating a proverbial dead horse? I am discouraged and weary from the whole marketing rat race.

Courtesy Canva

Lots of questions without answers. I’d love to hear from each of you. Tell me your experiences, your thoughts, and, if you have one, your plan of action. At this point, I have no plan.

I do, however, have a new story or two to write. I’m not discouraged about writing the stories.

Thoughts? Ideas? Let’s talk!

A Virtual Book Festival

COVID-19 changed the way we interact with the world around us. And, one of the biggest ways it has affected me, as an author, is the cancellation of ALL physical book festivals. I absolutely love spending a day visiting with potential readers, talking about my stories and learning about them and their interests.

So, as a way to try and continue having this experience and opportunity, we are experimenting with virtual book festivals.

How is it going to look? To be honest, I’m not quite sure. But I’m willing to take a chance and participate just in case anyone wants to pop in and chat.

I have a Zoom session scheduled to begin at 9:30 am Central time, on Saturday, October 3rd. It will run until Zoom kicks me off. 🙂 From what I understand, that will be 40 minutes.

So, if you are free on Saturday morning and want to stop by, I would absolutely LOVE to chat with you about any and everything!

Here is the invitation:

Jan Sikes is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: 3rd Virtual Book Festival AMG
Time: Oct 3, 2020 09:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 770 5792 6887
Passcode: 4a2wct

I’d love to see you there! Here is a lineup of all the participating authors.

3rd VBF Zoom Room (10 min)

B Alan Bourgeois VBF Zoom9:00 AM  Barb Geiger VBF Zoom9:10 AM  Denise Montgomery VBFZoom9:25  Sandra Rhea VBF Zoom9:40  Julie Connor VBF Zoom9:55 AM Julia Hayden VBF Zoom10:05 Roxanne Hodge VBF Zoom10:20 Diann Floyd Boehm VBF Zoom10:40  Steve Freidman VBF Zoom10:55  VBF Zoom11:10 AM 

Their Own Zoom Rooms:

Greg KelsoZoom9:30 – 1010 AM

Jan SikesZoom9:30 – 10 AM

Marsha WestZoom9:30 – 10 AM

Rachel BoehmZoom9:30 – 10 AM

Ann NobleZoom9:20 – 10 AM 

Shelly Lee (Lady Lee)Zoom10:30 – 11 AM

Michael NewmanZoom10 – 10:30 AM

Diane Windsor (Motina Books)Zoom12:30 PM