A couple weeks ago I put up two polls for readers to answer two questions. The totals were interesting in that they confirmed what I have been thinking on my own. As a writer, it's always difficult to gauge who our audience is and what they really want.
The feedback that reviewers give us is somewhat skewed as by definition, they are looking for certain things. Their expectations are based on genre and heat level so they comment on those things. But what exactly do the readers want?
In the industry, writers in particular are told two conflicting facts. 1) Readers want more sex in the books. 2) Readers want more story in the books. I wanted to find out what the readers had to say about that.
So here are the overall conclusions: Poll #1 Story vs. Sex--56 voters. From this sampling, one person voted for no sex. Three people wanted more sex than story. The remaining fifty two were fairly evenly split between some sex and half 'n half. Based on the numbers, the majority of the readers definitely want story over sex.
Interesting. In this case, it looks to me like the sex is marginally secondary to the story. So let's look at the second poll.
In this poll the question was not about the quantity of sex, but the heat level. Again, one person voted for no sex. Zero people voted for kisses. Three people voted for closed bedroom door. After that, the numbers really picked up. Fourteen voted for open bedroom door. Thirteen voted for explicit sex (Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, etc.) And twenty three voted for explicit sex and language. This poll was clearly weighted toward explicit sex.
What do the two polls tell us? Actually, they pretty much demonstrate that old saw, "Quality over quantity." Readers are not much interested in our characters jumping in and out of bed every third page as though they're working their way through a sex manual. However, when our characters do make it to bed (or against the wall or in the hot tub), our readers want that scene to be hot with realistic adult action. Our readers are adults, not youngsters dreaming about their princes. Been there, did that.
Clearly, whatever the heat level, our readers want a story--a story that will keep them nailed to the chair, flipping the pages until they reach the end. I want to thank all the people who took time to vote in the poll. I appreciate your input.
If you peek over to the right, you'll notice two new polls. I hope you'll take time to vote in them. They'll be up until midnight on Halloween. I wonder what we'll find out from them?