Friday, April 5, 2013

What Gets Readers to Read Your Book?

Recently, I spoke at a writer's meeting and shared with the group some of my marketing ideas. At the start of the class I read a list that I'd obtained from Goodreads regarding a poll that was taken. The poll offered some insights.

Photo by: zimpenfish, courtesy of Flickr
The books that were polled were Gone Girl and The Night Circus, and the question was:
What Convinced You to Read the Book?

Here's the list:

1. Trusted Friend
2. Everyone talking about it
3. Book club
4. Goodreads - reviews
5. On "Best" lists
6. Sample read
7. Amazon reviews
8. Goodreads Choice Awards
9. Liked Author's books
10. Book blurb
11. Cover

Now, I was at first surprised at this list. I mean, when was the last time you heard, "Great covers sell books"? And yet, the book cover is at the last of this list. It is at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak.

Photo by: Lel4nd, courtesy of Flickr
And while I'm the first to admit that a good cover doesn't hurt, I started to think of the places I frequent and the time I give to them. If I am more concerned about my book cover than I am about talking my book up (doing the right marketing) so that someone will share it with a trusted friend, I'm in trouble.

When was the last time you offered to speak at a book club? Where do you place reviews on your to-do list? How much time to you spend on your book blurb as compared to putting out a sample read on your blog as well as the blogs of others who do it?

I also looked at the marketing done online, in person, and by those who market free for you.

The first two items on this list are done for you. I think that's significant. You must do more than sufficient marketing so that "everyone" at least appears to be talking about your book, including that trusted friend.

You must get out there personally through a book club. And, I would add, anywhere where you can be seen. That means the library, bookstore signings, writer's events, etc.

You must get your book reviewed and by enough people that your reviews will carry clout. And these are online interviews. "Best" lists are provided online, but in order to be put on a "Best" list an author must have a reason to be there. Sales numbers. Contest winnings. Sample reads are also online, as are Amazon reviews and Goodreads Choice Awards.

If your book is liked by a reader, they may just read another of your books, but consider what is above #9 on the list.

Book blurbs are on the back covers of books, and then we have the front covers of books, although both of these can also be placed on a website.

When I was at the writer's meeting, I asked the question, "When was the last time you purchased a book because of the cover?" There wasn't a response. Only a hand. And then, "I'm more concerned with other things," she said. 

We discussed the other things. Many of them were on this list.

You might want to consider them.



  1. Before anyone can buy your book for its cover, they must SEE it - and that alone is a huge obstacle, because most new writers' books are invisible. No one gets to SEE them. This is something few new authors understand. Putting a book up online (Amazon, or any other book retailer) does not mean readers can SEE it. There are 8 million books on Amazon. One must already know about an item before one can search for it. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books in EACH category, so even if you put "male detective" or "romantic thriller" in the search box thousnads will pop up, and the ones at the top are always those with the most recent sales.
    The Catch-22 is that to have sales, your book must be at the top. And to be at the top, your book must have sales.
    So naturally it must be word-of-mouth and other promotional elements that raise awareness of the book's existence, and raise the book to where it can be SEEN.

  2. Rosanne, Thank you for your comment about "seeing." Seeing means getting the word out about your book so when readers finally see the cover they say to themselves, "Oh, I've heard about that book!"

    Thanks again!


Thank you for your comment.