What makes you pick up a book?

Some of you may know that my debut novel comes out in trade paperback in four months.  April 3rd, to be exact.  I could probably tell you the weeks, days, and minutes, but I’m not that crazy.  Yet.

So because of that, I’m beginning to look at promotional things like advertising and signings, and printed materials, and what kinds of things can provide the most effective sales for the money.  So I ask you….what makes you pick up a book?  I’m not asking what makes you BUY it, because I firmly believe a good back cover blurb and a great cover will do the selling if you’ve done your job right.  But what puts that book in your hands?

Does it catch your attention to see a “signed by the author” sticker?  Does it matter to you to see a shelf talker label advertising a local author?  Does that draw you to give that book a try?

What about book reviews?  Do you read them?

What about blog tours when a new release comes out.  Do you follow them around?  Has one ever made you purchase that author’s book?

Book club excerpts…is that a selling point to you?

Living in a small town, I don’t see booksignings here.  That’s not to say they don’t exist, I just haven’t seen or heard about them.  So if the authors did exist and do them, I’d have to say their advertising wasn’t very effective.  I worry about that.  What did they do that I shouldn’t do?

Have you gone to signings or done them yourself?  What kinds of “swag” swayed you.  Did bookmarks make it out of the bag or get tossed in the trash?  What types of promo items did you find especially unique, useful, or interesting?  I’m thinking a chip clip would be great in my house!  LOL.  Never can find one when I need it.  And post it notes!

So I’m tapping your brains, trying to get a consumer view of what works and doesn’t work.  So I don’t invest in 3000 chip clips when what people really liked was post it notes.

And now that I’ve used you and drained you of knowledge that I feel sure you’re going to impart below, I’ll leave you with an awesome and quick appetizer snack for your parties.  It’s not fancy, but you could dress it up with presentation.

They’re called Seasoned Crackers, but I’m putting them in my current wip I’m writing and calling them…

Frannie Lattimer’s To-Die-For Crackers.

1 box saltine crackers
1 1/2 cups canola oil
3 Tbsp crushed red pepper
1 pkg dry ranch dip mix

Lay crackers flat in a pan. Mix ingredients. Pour mixture over crackers. Allow crackers to absorb mixture or place in a baggie and shake.

Easy, yummy, and addictive.  I dare you to eat just one!


About Sharla Lovelace

Writer of romantic women's fiction. Wife, mom, and wonderwoman...without the boobs. National Bestselling Author of THE REASON IS YOU, BEFORE AND EVER SINCE, and the e-novella JUST ONE DAY. Lover of anything red.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Sharla,
    Can you use other crackers besides Saltines? My grandmother used to make her own crackers with those little oyster crackers. Yum. Let me know and I’ll give your mix a try.

    Now, on to what makes me pick up a book. I’ve never bought a book because of swag. NEVER. In my opinion, it is a total waste of money. I’ll pick a post it note if I need a post it note, not because I’m tempted to read the author whose name is printed on the note. Same with chip clips and bottle openers and everything else.

    I pick up a book because I like the cover and the blurb sounds enticing. Repeated exposure is also good–if I’ve seen the book or heard of the author in more than one place. Reviews help, too.

    I’ve seen your cover, read your blurb, and am anxiously awaiting your release. If I were you, I’d solicit reviews and just try to get my name out there as much as possible.

    So excited for you as your release date draws near!!

  2. I agree with Christy, it’s the cover and the blurb that make me pick up a book. Swag will never convince me. Yes, I’ll take the pen or the post it notes–and probably more than one chip clip :)–but those won’t get me to buy the book. My advice would be to get some buzz going about the book before its release. Find a way to get it to come up on search engines with similar genre books. And when you figure THAT out, let me know!

    • Very good point, Tracy. Mine comes up with my name and my title, but I hadn’t thought about getting it to come up with other authors and titles. I’m thinking that if you tag your blog posts and amazon/b&n pages with authors and titles that are similar, that might make it do that….hmmm, you gave me something to work on! LOL.

      • I’ve seen that done and I personally find it annoying. To me, it’s almost like cheating. Am I the only one who feels like this? Makes me wonder if I should I get off my high horse and just play the marketing game. Avon uses this a lot so I’m assuming other publishers do, too?

  3. Oh, just want to add … good topic, Sharla. I don’t buy based on swag. Romantic Times book reviews is a definite selling feature as are other book reviews and recommendations I run across on the net. Find popular sites with lots of readers to review your book. 🙂

    I, too, am looking forward to your release!

  4. In fact, Joyce Lamb is reviewing for USA today. This is a must. Go email her and get yourself on the list.


    Sorry for the multiple posts. I am only having one thought at a time today. 🙂

  5. I’ve never bought a book because I liked the swag either. Sorry to sound like everyone else, but it’s always the cover that gets my eye and then if the blurb sounds cool, that’s all I need. I don’t read the first page, I don’t even open the book. The same goes for when I’m on the internet. If the cover’s cool and the short blurb is well done, I’m there.
    By the way, I have never heard of tagging your book with books that are like yours and/or well known. What???

  6. Sharla, you’re not going to like this answer — but what makes me buy a book is:

    1. Recommendation of a friend / group.
    2. Blurb
    3. Cover

    Not that those are bad things, but they’re all things outside your control! Look at it this way – you won’t have to spend your advance on swag!

    Looking forward to buying your book (and recommending it to my friends / groups!)

    • I’m laughing because you are all so right. I probably never have paid much attention to swag either…I’ve just never given much thought one way or another till now. I will have to get some things, because agents use them when talking up their clients, and I will get things like the shelf talkers for my local stores, pushing that local author appeal. But y’all are right. It’s about the buzz. I’m not great at that, unfortunately, not my strong suit. But I’m learning!! Thanks for all the advice and the wanting to read my book! I appreciate it!

  7. Since I’ve come into the middle of the discussion, I can save you time. Ditto to all of it, especially Laura Drake. I don’t think cards or bookmarks or any of it are much help and truthfully, turn me off a bit. I think we need to think as “sales” people but not used car sale people.

    I read on Jane Friedman that one skill published writers (you lucky she-devil you) need to learn is the art of the book review proposal. I do pay attention to reviews and think well placed reviews (not amazon per se) are a great benefit. You can substitute book signings for a well thought out blog tour and then wait for all of us to tell our ten best friends to buy it (since I won’t lend it to anyone) and find out for themselves. Can’t wait until you are out there, Sharla. Much good thoughts your way 🙂

  8. I read the reviews with passion but rarely do they influence me. I’m a throw back to the dark ages. I want to hold the book in my hands. Feel, see and touch the cover and the pages inside. I do read the blurb on the back – but that doesn’t make me buy the book. I don’t know who wrote the blurb and it’s the author that wrote what’s inside.

    I generally read the 1st chapter, a middle chapter and then one closer to the end . . . if it’s an author I’ve never read before and especially if it’s a new author before I buy. Once I find an author I like and automatically read everything she/he writes – I don’t bother to explore the book at all – until I discover the storytelling has gone downhill – and then it takes a lot to win me back.

    As for the ‘stuff’ offered for authors to buy to put with their books as enticements – it’s simply something to carry home and toss in the recycle bin – save your advance and buy yourself something nice for having completed your novel.

    And yes, I do buy e-books. Instead of carrying 5 or 6 novels in my luggage – I now load them on my Kindle. I also load tons of resource materials on my Kindle. Often I load whatever novel I’m currently reading at home on my Kindle as well so that I can read it when I’m waiting for appointments, in line, or whatever – so call it a double sale for the author – for that’s exactly what it is.

  9. Hi, Sharla.Covers and back blurbs. Promotional emails about a sale on ebooks. Giveaways at a blog posting. Some Kindle reviews. Some Goodreads reviews.

    Can’t wait to see your book!

  10. Sharla – The one item I pay attention to in the reviews – is if the book is mentioned as being good for a book group. Thought I’d add that in.

    Book sales seems to grow by leaps and bounds if word of mouth carry them from one book club to another.

  11. Cover, blurb, and recommendations from friends. Word of mouth is key! 🙂

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