And then a few people chimed in and said, "Well, I thought that was assumed!"
(I'm smiling as I type this, by the way, because I really am fascinated. Wouldn't it be fun if we were all in a big room together having an in-depth, face to face conversation? I'm imagining a room with free snacks.)
The top three issues were:
Good Cover Art (10 mentions)
When I was on an ebook panel at OddCon, someone in the audience who'd never read an ebook chimed in and said wouldn't it be sad that when ebooks took over, cover art would go away, and immediately the other panelists and I all said, oh no, cover art is still CRITICAL. I'm pleased so many of you mentioned it. I think cover art is one of my strengths, and it's one of the main reasons I self-publish.
Good Proofing (8 mentions)
I get the impression that we're not talking about an occasional error slipping through, but consistently bad usage and typos, even as bad as documents that looked like they'd never even been spellchecked.
I'm curious what you do in this case: avoid the publisher entirely? Write to them? Semi-avoid them (in other words, only buy from them if the blurb really, really grabs you), note your dissatisfaction but not let it affect your buying habits?
Good Formatting (7 mentions)
No weird line breaks, no weird blank pages. No weirdness!
I think this could be lumped under "quality control" with proofing...and in a way with good cover art too, come to think of it. Some other concerns could have been added to this category, like font and line wrap, which would have put it at the top of the list.
Good story - 6
Appropriate price - 5
Intriguing blurb - 4
Compact file size/pages - 3
Appropriate end matter - 3
Pleasing font - 3
Still more mentions: word wrap, availability, page numbers on PDFs, table of contents, no DRM, multiformat download
One thing ocotillo_dawn just mentioned to me was that she thought "good story" was presumed. Is it? Sometimes when I look at top-sellers, it seems like writers who write faster have higher sales numbers per book than writers who can only put out a few things a year. Or is that just a critical-mass kind of thing? Having multiple series going might give you a chance to hook in more new readers.
I'm pretty damned chuffed that cover art is at the top of the list.
Another thing I was happy about was that while price was an issue, it wasn't that everyone thought everything should be 99¢ or something ridiculous like that, but that you wanted to pay what seemed fair. An ebook should cost less than a paperback; a novella should cost less than a novel.
End matter was another area where you were moderate in your preferences. Make sure it fits with the book (no m/f in our m/m, no sci fi in our contemporary) and make sure it's not 20 pages long.
Do any of you find these results surprising?