After the enthusiastic response to the data we shared with the WSJ, we thought it would be fun to periodically blog about some of the interesting things we’re seeing.

As a reminder, all of our data is anonymized and aggregated, so there’s absolutely no individual tracking here. With that caveat, let’s take a look at GREAT ESCAPES: VALENTINE’S DAY.

GREAT ESCAPES is a highly experimental series, written by romance vets Linda Wisdom and Lynda K. Scott (aka “The Lindas”).  The grand experiment is that we allow readers to customize both the physical attributes of the male protagonists and the sexual explicitness of the text.

In the first volume, VALENTINE’S DAY, we offer readers three different options at the outset:

  • read the story as The Lindas originally envisioned it, with no customizations,
  • read one of seven preset customizations chosen by the Lindas and our staff, or
  • choose the advanced option, personalizing the story with detailed preferences about physical attributes (like height and eye color) and sexual explicitness

While the concept of a personalized erotica series had tested well, we had heard some derision from publishers who were certain that readers “don’t really want that.” So this first screen was partially meant as a test to make sure we were on the right track.

To date, almost two-thirds of readers have chosen the advanced option (64% of readers), with 24% choosing a preset, and only 12% reading the original form. Upon a second reading, 44% choose a different advanced customization, while 54% stick with their original preferences.

Some fun factoids:

1. Good news for men with accents: over half of the presets were for a Southern Gentleman or Latin Lover.

2. Lisa was shocked to see that she (blonde hair with hazel eyes) and her hubby (red hair with blue eyes) were the two least popular choices at 8% and 6%, respectively.

“I really thought we were kind of cute…I guess it’s a good thing we found each other…”

But I have good news for her: those percentages are well above their genetic cohort, so they have scarcity going for them. Though interestingly, hazel eyes with blonde hair (natural blonde, mind you) is rarer than red hair with blue eyes.

3. But if you’re a black-haired, green-eyed male? Throw away your sunglasses and get out there! That color combo is even rarer, clocking in at under 1% of the population…but a whopping 26% of readers are dreaming of someone like you.

4. Our readers overwhelmingly think Catherine Zeta Jones is the sexiest of the female celebs we listed, garnering 39% of the vote and out-pacing Halle Berry, Minka Kelly, Anna Kournikova, Zhang Ziyi, and Freida Pinto. Nice to see our readers embracing some curves!

5. Finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for: when it comes to how sexy readers want their erotica, they LOVE the steamiest scenes, with 65% choosing that over the other options.

The second installment of GREAT ESCAPES, SUMMER SOLSTICE, is currently in final edits, and we’re excited to be sending out the ARCs next week. In response to reader feedback, The Lindas have added a wider array of ethnicities, ratcheted up the sexiness, and expanded some of their customization options. Here’s the cover…naughty librarians, anyone?

Also, I’ll be blogging about data in the future, so tweet @coliloquy and @waynnlue if you have any burning questions!