What Makes Someone Pick up a Book?
We’ve touched on this a couple of times, but it bears repeating: there are so many books in the world, with hundreds more being released every day; what is going to make your book stand out?
Something that might help you decide why yours is different, which will in turn help you turn people towards your book, is to have a good grasp of what makes someone pick up a book. What is it about your book that will make someone pause as they walk past it on a shelf or scroll past it on Amazon? What is it about your book that will make them buy it?
Together, we sat down and thought about what it is that motivates us personally to buy the books we do, and we have collated this into a handy list for you:
- The cover. Yes yes, we know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Except that is almost precisely what the cover is there for, right? Too often, authors scrimp on the front cover and trust in their words to sell their book. Sadly, if your front cover isn’t eye-catching or artistic or interesting then your readers are unlikely to even pick it up in the first place and give your writing the chance it deserves. We can’t stress this enough: a good front cover is everything.
- Reviews. Well, more specifically, reviews from trustworthy sources. Always ask your friends or current readership for reviews, but make sure they are good, worthwhile reviews. Too often someone will check out the reviews on someone’s Amazon page, for instance, and they will very obviously be from the author’s family and/or friends and they won’t say anything important or anything that will leave a lasting impression on a potential new reader. In fact, we are finding lately that more and more people avoid Amazon and prefer to go to places like Goodreads or Kirkus or similar.
- A good blurb. It’s harder than you think to write an intriguing blurb that will engage a reader straightaway. Too many authors write a blurb like they would write a synopsis that they’re sending to an agent or publisher. A blurb needs to be just a hint of your plot, using engaging language which evokes images and resonates with your target readers, with a question to be answered, or a hint of a mystery. Most (fiction) book blurbs start with a situation, introduce a problem and promise a twist. They usually end with a sentence that emphasizes the mood of the story.
- The fear of missing out. We think this probably drives book sales more than people would care to admit. This element is all about spectacular marketing. There are lots of books out there that, quite frankly, are terribly written (*cough* 50 Shades of Grey *cough*) but sold spectacularly well because the marketing for the book was so well done that it made people feel compelled to buy it, just so they could understand what all the fuss was about. We all want to be a part of something, it’s in our nature. There is nothing wrong with using that to sell your books. Marketing is all about psychology anyway!
We all have our favourite genres of course. Some of us find it impossible to walk past a bare, dark but gory front cover with words like ‘terrifying!’ or ‘gruesome’ splashed across the front, while others can’t resist the intricate, beautiful artwork of a fantasy series. It is important to know who you are targeting your book at and use images and language that will appeal to that targe.
We’ll post another blog soon that will give you more in depth tricks to writing a good blurb, and another one that will look further into the psychology of why people read. If you’d like to subscribe to our blogs, please do let us know!