Greetings folks, today I’m giving you the opportunity to help me with some research I’m undertaking for future reference. As an independent author in the early stages of my career, I have a vested interest in knowing what makes a reader decide to purchase and read a book by an author they haven’t heard of. That being the case, I have set up a poll so you can let me know which of the following five factors is most responsible for persuading you to risk reading a book by an author previously unknown to you.
To qualify what I am asking, I want to know what initially sparks meaningful interest in a book by an unknown author rather than what ultimately helps you make the decision to buy or borrow the book. The five factors are detailed below; once you’ve read them please go ahead and place your vote in the poll which will remain open for as long as possible.
We all know the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover,” yet many of us will make snap judgements about a book we haven’t read based on the front cover. If we deem the artwork to be good, it tends to give us a positive view of the book even if we don’t know anything about it, whereas if we don’t like the cover we tend to assume negative things about its content. Speaking for myself, while a cover can often put me off reading a book, it’s rare that it has the reverse effect.
A blurb is a brief description on the back of a book informing readers of its central plot. Its purpose is not only to inform, but also to entice people into making a purchase. As with cover art, an effective blurb gives readers a good impression of a book, whereas an ineffective one will more than likely do the opposite. For me, the blurb is almost always the factor that sparks genuine interest in a book; if it fails to sell me on a book, chances are I won’t investigate any further.
In the scheme of things, the title of a book isn’t particularly important, especially as it is limited in what it can communicate about the content of a story. However, book titles do have other helpful attributes. They generally help to distinguish one book from another, giving each book its own identity, and the more original the title the more the book will stand apart from others. It’s also the case that a book title can remind readers of other books they have read, possibly creating a positive association in the mind. Personally, generic titles don’t do anything to draw me to a book, but it’s certainly the case that clever and original titles can and do catch my attention.
Hype for a book is an interesting phenomenon, especially when it’s occurring online. It can create the impression that everyone and their dog is either eagerly awaiting the arrival of a book, or obsessively discussing a book, even if that perception has no basis in reality. This kind of hype is evidently very effective at influencing the reading choices some people make. How many people have purchased a book for no other reason than the perception that everyone else is talking about it, and so they subsequently read the book in order to be part of the conversation? While internet hype tends to turn me off reading the book at the centre of the hype, I suspect I’m not typical in this regard.
It’s hard for interest in a book to be piqued if no one knows it exists, which is where marketing campaigns come in. A book campaign can take various forms, depending on who’s being targetted, but its purpose is to increase the visibility of a book. As a personal observation, marketing campaigns seem to be more helpful in promoting the books of authors who are already established names with established readerships. People being made aware of the existence of a book by an author they have never heard of won’t necessarily create any real interest in that book. In that respect, I’m not convinced campaigns by unknown authors can spark initial interest in their books; but I will remain open-minded about the possibility.
Thank you for your participation,