Whoever coined the phrase “Familiarity breeds contempt” was not talking about readers who buy books. In fact, when it comes to book purchasing, the opposite is true.
BookNet Canada conducts studies on book reading and buying behavior. In one of their studies, they looked at which element influence readers to purchase a particular book. Were readers drawn in by the awesome cover design? Were they won over by the gripping book description? Did endorsements influence readers purchase decision?
It turns out familiarity was the most cited influence for reading a given book. In other words, the reader was familiar with the author. Somehow the reader knew about the author. They may have read another book by that author. They may be familiar with the author because he or she is already famous. Maybe they saw the author on television or heard her on the radio. The key ingredient was that they “knew” the author somehow.
Here is the breakdown of the percentage of people who ranked each option first in terms of how they influence when books they read / listen to:
- Familiarity with the author – 35.5%
- Read a synopsis – 25.8%
- Familiarity with the series – 17.2%
- Cover design – 6.9%
- Awards and bestseller stickers/badges – 6.5%
- Saw an ad for the book – 4.7%
- Author or celebrity endorsement – 3.1%
Notice in this breakdown that “Familiarity with the Author” was chosen by over one-third of the readers, and “Familiarity with the Series” was chosen by just about one out of every six readers. Combined, over half of all study participants chose familiarity as their number one influence in deciding what to read.
This means that as an author, you have to work hard to make yourself known to readers so that they are “familiar” with your name. In order for people to become familiar with you, you must be visible. Here are a four ways to increase your visibility as an author so readers can become more familiar with your name:
- Get interviewed on radio and television shows, as well as podcasts.
- Write articles and guest blogs.
- Speak at events.
- Write more books.
One-fourth of all readers reported that the number one influence for choosing what book to read was “Read a Synopsis or Sample.” A 2017 survey by BookNet Canada found that 15% of book buyers had downloaded a free extract/sample of a book in the previous year.
If you want to catch more readers for your books, then you should be offering free samples. Make the most of giving readers a taste of your book by:
- Allowing readers to read a chapter or two of the book on your website.
- Enabling the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon for your book.
- Getting wider exposure on social media for your book sample through Pay With a Tweet.
- Posting your sample chapters on reading sites like Wattpad, Booksie, and Noisetrade.
Through making yourself more visible so people become familiar with you and offering free chapters of your book to readers, you increase your chances that readers will by your book. After all, three-fourths of readers surveyed choose these two reasons—familiarity and reading a sample—as the most influential factor in their decision on what book to read.
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Photo courtesy of Andrewlloydgordon.