Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let's Say You're a Reader

 . . . and you're looking for a good book. I asked readers recently where they went for information about what books to buy.  OMG, no two answers were alike! If you're a writer trying to place your book in the public's eye, such untrending answers can be unnerving. After all, authors only have 24 hours in a day, and there's no way we can be everywhere in selling our babies.

How people decide to buy a good book:

1. Word-of-mouth.
No way you can be in everyone's mouth, but this is the most common answer. And you can't spread the word about your new release overnight. Tell one new person per day about your book. Think of it that way. Each person usually tells at least two if not a dozen more. No math necessary. The number grows. That's all you need to know. This is how most books sell.

2. Stars at Amazon and B&N.
Reviews. Those elusive diamonds we authors so crave and struggle to achieve. Readers flock to these ratings to make decisions about their book purchases, but they don't necessarily leave reviews themselves. As I said in the title . . . Let's Say You're a Reader. Why aren't you leaving reviews? You don't have to be a world-renown publisher or editor to leave a review and mark those stars.

3. Goodreads.
I've recently (the last six months) started paying attention to Goodreads. It's cozy. It's informative. It's fairly easy to navigate (though I'm still figuring out some of the tricks). And it's chocked full of rabid readers who know what they like. They have great influence on each other's reading choices. . . and ultimately book sales.

4. Book Reviews.

NYTimes or local newspapers or certain well-known blogs, readers still love book reviews. That amazes me since most newspapers don't see the need for book reviews, or limit themselves to books already on the NYT Bestseller list. Brainless and rather incestuous, in my opinion. The point here is that readers still want to know what other readers thought about a book before he buys it. It's word-of-mouth in writing. Since we all can't get on these major review lists, go to the blog reviewers online and start making the rounds with requests to review your book.

5. Browsing Book Stores.
Okay. Tough love here. If you self publish . . . and especially if you use a vanity press . . . forget this one. It isn't happening. Self-publish if you like. No negatives from me on your choice, but just know that you will not be putting that baby on a bookstore shelf anytime soon.

A lot of factors play in to book-buying decisions like opening lines, book jacket blurbs and book cover art, but you have to get a reader's attention first before they get so far as knowing the book exists.

So, having a book, and even having it on Amazon, doesn't sell books. Overwhelmingly, word-of-mouth sells books. As a writer, start spreading the word . . . each and every day. As a reader, help spread the word with chatter, texts, blogs, messaging, comments on blog posts, and yes, reviews on Amazon. BN and Goodreads. Be proactive as a reader, and you help the good writers of the world make a difference.

More info: How Do You Choose Your Books, by Beyond the Margins

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm lucky living in Erie that the local newspaper still publishes a full-page of book reviews every Sunday. Frankly, it is the only part of the newspaper I ever read.