What influences Book Purchasing Decisions?

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.

Familiarity is a leading influence on readers' book choices.

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?

Familiarity

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:

  1. Get interviewed on radio and television shows, as well as podcasts.
  2. Write articles and guest blogs.
  3. Speak at events.
  4. Write more books.

Reading a book sample

Book Samples

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:

  1. Allowing readers to read a chapter or two of the book on your website.
  2. Enabling the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon for your book.
  3. Getting wider exposure on social media for your book sample through Pay With a Tweet.
  4. 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.

Related Posts:
Are You Making This Connection?
Pay With a Tweet
Sampling: An Effective Marketing Tool

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Andrewlloydgordon.

This Book Buying Behavior Can Affect Your Book Sales

Convenience stores have been around for decades. These small shops, usually attached to a gasoline station, offer everyday items that customers can purchase without having to make a specific trip to a grocery store. Clearly Americans like convenience because the number of these shops has steadily grown over the years.

Buyers Like Convenience

In a recent survey, BookNet Canada found that the single most important reason Canadian book buyers choose a particular store or website for their purchases is convenience. In the study, convenience ranked higher than other factors like good service and cheap delivery.

Amazon, the retail giant, understands this desire for convenience. To be more convenient, the company stores your credit card information and provides you with a “one-click” buying option. Amazon’s Prime one-day shipping is also convenient, unless you live in a remote location. Prime members in Alaska and Hawaii have to wait up to seven days and pay expedited shipping fees.

Clearly, what is convenient for one person is not necessarily convenient for another person. This is why it is important for your book to be available for consumers to buy where they shop. After all, not everyone shops on Amazon.

Just about half of all online paperback book purchases are made on Amazon. That’s 50%. The other half of paperback books are being purchased in other places. Since three-quarters (about 75%) of books purchased are print books, this is important.

If your book is only for sale on Amazon, then you are losing out on sales. Your book could potentially be selling twice as many copies if it were available in multiple online stores—think Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and ChristianBook—to name a few.

I am continually surprised at how many authors publish their book through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and that is all they do. These authors act as if Amazon is the only store in town. I have news for them: It’s not!

One of the twenty marketing fundamentals listed in my award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books is:

The more channels through which consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell.

If you want to sell more books, then your book has to be available for sale in multiple places. How many places online can people buy your book? If you are unsure, do a Google search for your book’s title or ISBN and see what comes up in the search results.

Related Posts:
It’s Not Just Price…
What Authors Can Learn from Shopping Behaviors
Are You Making It Hard?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

How to Sell More Books

Super Mario Maker 2, a Nintendo video game, released this summer. The game allows players to create game levels and post them online for other players to play. The game allows for creativity as well as game play.

How to Sell More Books

My son is a huge fan of this game. He played the first version and downloaded the second version as soon as it became available. He loves to create levels and post them for other gamers to play. The other day, my son was over-the-Moon happy. Of the thousands of levels that players create, Nintendo featured one of the levels my son created in a video showcasing exceptional player-created levels.

In talking with my son, he told me that he had studied the formulas the makers of the video game used to create levels within the game. He then used those same formulas to create his levels. It was successful.

Yet, it was not just following a formula that got my son’s game level noticed. Rather, it was a combination of strategies that came together. My son followed a formula to create better game levels, but he also showcased these levels on his YouTube Channel that is dedicated to Nintendo games. So, it was a combination of skill, marketing, and plan old luck (or providence).

Authors also love formulas. Just give us the formula for writing a best-selling book, and we will write it. Just give us the formula for marketing to sell thousands of books, and we will do it.

Every time I turn around, someone is peddling a course with a formula for authors on how to sell thousands of books or create a bestseller. Some of the courses I have seen are:

  • How to Sell a Thousand Books in Three Months
  • Launch a Bestseller
  • 3 Steps to a Bestselling Author Platform
  • Nonfiction Writers: Create Six Figure Classes (how to build an online class business)

Authors jump on these classes and pay anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars to learn how they can sell thousands of copies of their book.

I wish it were that simple: Get the formula, follow it, and sell thousands of books. Sadly, it’s not that easy.

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book.

If there were:

  1. Every book published would become a bestseller.
  2. Someone would patent the formula and use it to create best-selling books, making themselves a lot of money.

Often the people selling these online courses on how to sell thousands of books are authors who have written and published a book that sold well. They then think that they know the “formula” to do this and decide to teach others how to do the same thing.

JA Konrath, a best-selling author, raises a good question about these authors. He asks, “If you know how to write a bestseller, why aren’t you writing bestseller after bestseller? Why are you writing How-To books (or courses)?”

The bottom line is that there is no formula. What works for one type of book may not work for another type of book. Additionally, selling a general-market book is vastly different from selling a Christian book to a niche market. Selling a self-help book is vastly different from selling a Bible study book or a memoir.

So, how do you sell more books?

First, you have to write a compelling book. Second, you have to publish it with a professional-looking cover and interior layout design.

Then, you have to market the book. This is the tricky part. No single marketing technique is a surefire way to sell your book. Instead, you must use a variety of techniques that can include:

  • A launch team
  • Book reviews
  • Media exposure
  • Developing an audience
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Advertising

Just like my son’s game level, any book that sells well is due to a combination of factors including sometimes just being in the right place at the right time.

Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

If you need marketing ideas for your Christian book, I encourage you to read my award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. As one reader said:

“Wow, this book provides so many marketing ideas that it would take years to implement them all. As I am reading, I am making a list of all the tasks I need to perform to improve my book sales.” —Susan

Remember, there is no marketing formula that guarantees success. You have to use a variety of marketing strategies to sell more books.

Related Posts:
Marketing is Murky
Are You Looking for a Formula?
Selling Books is Challenging

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

The Book Distribution Conundrum

The big news this month is that Baker & Taylor announced that they will no longer sell books to retailers as of July 15, 2019. This is industry-changing news.

For years, there have been two wholesale companies that sell books to retailers and librarians—Ingram Content Group and Baker & Taylor. Of the two, Baker & Taylor was a small publisher’s friend.

The Distribution Conundrum

Historically it has been very difficult for a small publisher to get their books stocked in Ingram (and in Spring Arbor, the Christian book division of Ingram). Publishers must have at least 10 titles and meet a set annual sales figure in order to place their books directly with Ingram for sales to retailers and librarians. If a small publisher does not meet these requirements, then they have to use a distributor who stocks their books in Ingram. Some of these book distributors include Anchor (Christian books), Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Consortium Book Sales, and Baker & Taylor Publisher Services (formerly BookMasters).

Using a distributor has benefits as well as pitfalls. A distributor is a middleman, so a distributor takes an additional 15% or more of each book sale—over and above the 55–60% discount that the wholesaler (Ingram) requires. Additionally, distributor’s vet the books they represent. So, a publisher has to pass the additional requirements of a distributor in order to be represented by said distributor.

Baker & Taylor, on the other hand, was small-publisher friendly. Small publishers could open an account with Baker & Taylor and have their books stocked directly so that retailers and librarians could place orders for these books.

With the cessation of Baker & Taylor’s sales to retail stores, only one wholesale book company is now selling books to retailers—Ingram. Some in the industry are concerned about what this will mean long-term for retailers and publishers.

 

Baker & TaylorIf you are an independently published author, Baker & Taylor’s decision to cease distribution to retailers will most likely not affect you. Sadly, it will affect a number of small publishers.

Independent authors have been able to make their books available for sale to retailers and librarians through Ingram using one of Ingram’s print-on-demand (POD) services (IngramSpark or Lightning Source) or Kindle Direct Publishing’s expanded distribution service. You may wonder why the loss of Baker & Taylor is such a big deal since small publishers can also use the POD sales route.

Here is what most independent authors do not understand: Retailers rarely order print-on-demand books to stock the shelves of their stores. Print-on-demand titles have a special code in the wholesale system that retailers can spot. As a result, if you are actively trying to get bookstores to stock your title and your book is only available print-on-demand, you have an uphill battle. If your title is listed as a Kindle Direct Published book, you have an even harder climb to get a retailer to stock your book, since retailers consider Amazon their direct competition.

Bookstore

Small publishers understand that they need to have print copies stocked (not POD copies) with wholesalers to increase their chances of book sales to retail stores. This is why the loss of a small- publisher friendly wholesale option for small publishers is a big deal.

While over 50% of books are purchased online, a good percentage of books are still purchased in stores, including bookstores. Savvy publishers know that they must have their books available in multiple locations to garner the most sales. Therefore, access to a wholesale sales option is important for these publishers.

If you are an independently published author, you can take a lesson from small publishers. Having your book available in Amazon alone is not enough. Not everyone shops on Amazon, and, for certain, libraries and retailers don’t order books from Amazon.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Distribution Is More Important Than You Think
Awareness Is Not Enough

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Samuel Zeller.

 

Book Marketing Bingo

Eight out of every ten products launched in the United Sates are destined to fail.

I recently read this statistic in the book Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. He went on to say:

Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet history tell us that all but a few of them have vanished from the shelf a year later. In consumer products alone, 52 percent of all new brands, and 75 percent of individual products fail.

That’s a whole lot of products that don’t stand the test of time. In other words, they don’t sell enough for their makers to keep producing them.

Authors, you have the same uphill battle for your books. The average traditionally-published book sells less than 500 copies and the vast majority of indie published books sell less than 200 copies.

There are many factors that help books sell. However, just as a cake won’t rise without baking soda, your book won’t sell without some marketing.

I love this Marketing Bingo board that John Kremer developed. Check it out. Have you done enough marketing to win a bingo on the board?

Marketing Bingo Card

Related Posts:
Marketing Is a Mindset
Overcoming Roadblocks to Marketing
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.