People Don’t Buy Your Book because it’s Good by PJ Nunn

Have you ever really thought about that? They might buy it because they’ve heard it’s good. But what does that really mean?

I’ve been a book publicist for more than twenty years and have literally represented thousands of titles over the years. Some are out of print, some won the biggest awards and most fall somewhere in between. Still, I learned a long time ago that I don’t have to read a book to be able to sell it, contrary to popular belief. Why not? Because people don’t buy books based on what they find inside the book. We think if the author has talent and the book is good, it will sell. But seriously – why do we buy books?

We might buy a book because –

  • It’s by an author we know
  • We like the cover
  • We like the title
  • Somebody told us we’d like it
  • We liked its prequel
  • It’s on sale
  • We read a review that was positive
  • We like the topic
  • We like police drama, or serial killers, or beach romance or whatever
  • Another author we like gave it a blurb

The point is – the only way we’d know the book was good would be if we’d already read the book. Few people buy books they’ve already read. So it’s really important for us as authors to understand this and make sure that we are providing our potential readers with as many reasons to buy our book as we can.

How do we do that? Make sure the book description on the cover, on Amazon, Goodreads, our promo material and wherever else is text that really communicates not just facts but atmosphere of the story. Does it tell too much? Does it make you want to read more?

Don’t tell people how good it is, show them. Sometimes an excerpt or short scene is a better salesperson than a description. Use your text wisely.

If you’re making good use of social media pages and blog space, keep your voice true. For instance, I have two books out right now and they are from two different series. One is humorous and kind of campy. It’s written in first person and the protagonist has a sharp, sarcastic wit. The other is more serious, a little more hardboiled and the protagonist is a psychologist so there’s more thought taking place. If I’m promoting Private Spies, I’ll probably write in first person and keep the voice light and hopefully funny. If readers respond to that voice, they’ll like the book. But if they like that voice and pick up Angel Killer instead, it’s so different it may not appeal to them at all.

Personally I like both, but different moods are for different times. Do you have some ideas to share about what provokes you to buy a book?

One thought on “People Don’t Buy Your Book because it’s Good by PJ Nunn

  1. radine says:

    Thoughtful and interesting. How would anyone decide they’d like your book unless–as you point out–they’d already read about it, or the new book was part of a series they liked. Good thoughts to ponder when planning promotions. WHAT information can I share that will intrigue my potential reader?

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