I had always assumed that all my readers would read an epilogue. Who doesn’t want a glimpse of the happily ever after?
Umm. Apparently, less than half of people who finish the book.
Thanks to a company called Jellybooks, which is based in London, we are discovering much more about how people read, and the results are surprising.
A New York Times article about the company explains how Jellybooks tracks reading behavior for specific publishers, who want to know whether certain books will be well received. Based on how many readers finish the books, publishers will decide whether to scale back on marketing or to spend even more than they planned. However, authors can also learn a few tips from the data. For example, looking at the charts in the New York Times article, it appears that a significant number of readers skip over front matter, including a preface, and go straight to chapter one. The same is true for the back matter, including an epilogue.
Because of this information, I changed the “Epilogue” in my last book into “Chapter 33–Eight Months Later” just in case.
I have my doubts about this study, however. Most of Jellybook’s readers signed up because they wanted to receive free e books. They may, therefore, read quite differently from someone who purchased a book.
I suspect that JAFF readers are more likely to read an epilogue, so please let me know: Do you read epilogues? If you don’t, I’d love to know why.