Thinking like a reader Part Two: promos that DON’T work on me

This is Part Two in a three-part series about what motivates THIS reader to buy books. In this segment I talk about what promotional activities are NOT likely to get me to buy your book. In Part Three on Friday, I’ll discuss which promotions DO work. In Part One, I talked about what book elements (cover, blurb, title, etc.) are effective in getting my attention.

The goal of any marketing, advertising, promotional campaign is sales. Does your effort get people to buy your books? There are many, many ways and numerous media that can be used to promote one’s book, but not all of them have an equal effect on the bottom line. Some have no effect, some even can have a deleterious effect. I’m an author myself, but this week I’m thinking like reader and I’m going to tell you which promotional activities/materials don’t work on me. Maybe these methods work on other readers — I can’t speak for them. But these activities/items will not entice me to buy your book.

The things that don’t work (on me) are:

Bookmarks. If you give away a bookmark to thank someone who has purchased your book, that’s one thing. But if you use them to get your name and book out there so people will buy it, consider this: I have read thousands of books in my life. I have never purchased a book as a result of receiving a bookmark. Probably the main reason is bookmarks don’t contain enough information to sell me. If you read yesterday post, you know that what sells me is the blurb. There is no blurb on a bookmark. And now that I only read ebooks on Kindle, I don’t even need bookmarks, so they get tossed into a drawer. I can’t ever recall using a promotional item (pen, bookmark, potholder, coaster, duffle bag, mug, etc.) from anybody or any company to make a buying decision.

Book trailers. Of the thousands of books I’ve read, only once have I purchased a book as a result of a book trailer. I’m a reader, not a watcher. The only time I go to You Tube is when somebody emails me a link to check out a specific video, but I don’t troll You Tube looking for books to read. I don’t want to sit and view a video of a book. After a lifetime of being bombarded by TV commercials, I don’t want to watch them online. So I don’t. By the way, the only book I purchased as a result of a trailer was Gem Sivad’s Quincy’s Woman. Here’s the one exception .

Online “reader” groups and chat loops. These are the equivalent of singles parties attended by only one gender, and it’s not a gay event! My experience has been these “reader” venues are frequented solely by authors who pitch their stories faster and more furiously than a major league ball player. They are overwhelming, scary places. If a real live reader happened to stumble into one of these events, she would immediately run for her life. As I have.

Contests for free books that require a lot of effort on my part. These are the contests where I have to follow every leg of a blog tour, post a comment on each one, read a chapter excerpt and then complete a final exam. If I wanted to work that hard, I’d go back to college and get my master’s degree. If a contest takes too much time and/or effort, I leave. I don’t even stick around to read the excerpt. However, many contests are effective in getting my attention, and I’ll be talking about those the next installment of “Thinking like a Reader.”

Coming on Friday: Part 3 of Thinking like a Reader: Promotional activities that work on me.

If you missed Part 1 of Thinking like a Reader, you can scroll down or click here.

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15 Responses to Thinking like a reader Part Two: promos that DON’T work on me

  1. Sharita Lira says:

    Great blog Cara. You made me laugh with the Chat loops comment. I have these on digest and I do scroll through and read a few excerpts but not every one.

    I like the book trailers but me personally, they have not made me buy a book. lol I love doing them though and they provide a source of entertainment.

    You are spot on with your comments though. I’m loving this series.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      So many trailers are SO well done, but it just doesn’t motivate me to buy a book. That said, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll do one. It’s hard to believe, I know, but sometimes I ignore my own counsel.

  2. Great points Cara… Although *looks at her book marks* mine have blurbs on them!



  3. Kaily Hart says:

    Loved your comments and I’m pretty much in the same boat!! I’ve stopped participating in a lot of loops due to the constant and overwhelming promo. Plus, I’m not comfortable pushing my books with every post and I don’t think it does me any favors. I just don’t want to be a part of that. Look forward to part 3!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Unfortunately, readers don’t tend to congregate in groups like authors do. They’re scattered all over the place! (Book clubs, being an exception).

  4. Pippa Jay says:

    I’ve been trying really hard to think up ways of promoting my book without
    1.annoying the heck out of people or
    2.doing the same things that everybody else does
    Sadly I’m coming up blank. Really looking forward to part three and will try to keep the above points in mind. I certainly wouldn’t make it THAT hard to win a free copy, but I’ve had a lot of fun doing the book trailers.

  5. Ranae Rose says:

    Oh, I SO agree with the last one! I hate it when I click a link lured in by the promise of contest prizes, only to discover that to enter the contest, I’d have to do dozens of things that would literally take up hours of my time. Yeah, maybe if the prize was a Ferrari or an international vacation. A book? No way.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I think that’s one of my biggest pet peeves — contests that are too involved. My gut feeling is that those contests only attract the people who want the freebies — who have turned entering contests into a job.

  6. Interesting post, love hearing about what inspires people to purchase books.
    But I have to disagree with your point about book trailers. There are hundreds of book vloggers and readers on youtube; the book trailers are just another form of delivery for your book blurb. Youtube is a huge audience, so I don’t believe that should be ignored. And even if they may not seem to gain you direct sales, they do attract new followers which could possibly lead to future sales. And book trailers are fun for your loyal readers to watch, too. They like seeing what we get up to. LOL

    Bookmarks are a gift to readers, as are other such marketing ploys such as pens etc… they’re a little present to say ‘thank you’ for your support. In a backhanded way, I guess they are a sales tool; keep your readers happy, and they may just come back for more.

    And on the chat loops. OMG yes!

    Really looking forward to part 3 of this series — *scratches head* what’s left? I wonder what works on you? I know what works on me. I wonder if it’s the same for you. Consider me tuned and waiting for your next installment hehe

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Joanne. I’m interested in knowing what works for other authors. You ‘re right that You Tube is hugely popular and it might work on other readers. It just doesn’t work on me. But then, I might be a little strange…

      I know that authors operate on a shoestring budgets and some of the best ways to promote are the free ways.

  7. Yes, I limit contests to getting folk to visit my site and tell me the name of my cat (his pic and name are near the top of the main page. He’s a very literary animal.) If people take the trouble to visit, then the odd free book is no trouble.

    It’s also no cost to me. To email an ebook costs nothing, and it is not as if I am giving a reader something she would have bought anyway. The big plus is – if she likes her present – she may come back and buy more.

    I so agree about the loops. Populated by strident authors who are busy shouting out their wares – to other authors who never buy anything. Much better to confine yourself to places that offer good content. Like Cara’s blog, of course!

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