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How People Really Judge a Book


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We see authors who have spent years working on their books finish their manuscript and then spend virtually no time on the rest of the book. They essentially mail in the title, book cover, book description, etc.

This baffles us. By doing this, they are essentially saying that they think readers will not judge their book by anything except the content. That the title, cover, author bio, blurbs and other marketing materials mean nothing to potential readers.

We have no idea why they do this. It's like they never ask themselves possibly the most important question about their book: "How do people REALLY judge my book?"

Published in: Marketing
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How People Really Judge a Book

  1. How People Really Judge a Book (And Why It Matters)
  2. Almost every potential reader will decide whether or not to buy your book before they read one single word of your book.
  3. Sadly, the actual content of your book has virtually no bearing on a reader's decision to buy your book.
  4. We'll map out exactly how people decide to buy a book soon, but you must understand: this process is almost completely unconscious.
  5. People don't know (or believe) they're evaluating your book this way...but they are.
  6. Here is what a potential reader evaluates, in order: 1. The title of the book 2. The recommending source 3. The book cover 4. The book description 5. The blurbs 6. The customer reviews 7. The author bio and picture (depending on where the picture is placed) 8. The book text itself (the "see inside" function online) 9. The price
  7. The Title 1
  8. Most books are now discovered either by in-person word of mouth or online. In both cases, what is the first piece of information they receive? The title.
  9. Let's be clear about this: A good title won't make your book do well…
  10. But a bad title will almost certainly prevent it from doing well. Let's be clear about this: A good title won't make your book do well…
  11. The Recommending Source 2
  12. The credibility of the recommending source is a hugely important piece of the puzzle.
  13. In fact, in most cases, people will transfer the credibility of the recommender onto the book.
  14. If you have a friend who is very rich, successful and intelligent, you're far more likely to listen to their book recommendation than someone who is unemployed and living with his parents. Think about it
  15. The Book Cover 3
  16. If the reader is still interested, they will now go to Amazon or a bookstore and look at the cover.
  17. The most important thing at this stage is that your cover doesn't repel the reader.
  18. Most people are looking for reasons NOT to buy your book, so try not to give them one with a poorly designed cover.
  19. The Book Description 4
  20. If your cover hasn't turned off a potential reader, they'll read your book description.
  21. It should give a good idea of what the book is about, while making it interesting and not giving everything away.
  22. The Blurbs, or Endorsements 5
  23. Like book recommendations, most readers care more about who your blurbs are from rather than what they say.
  24. They assume that the blurbs will be positive, so they want to see what level of social status the blurber has and whether it's someone they know and respect.
  25. The Reviews 6
  26. If they're looking at your book online, they move on to the customer reviews.
  27. They will usually first note the number of total reviews--as a gauge of popularity--and then look at the average rating, and then possibly browse the content of the reviews.
  28. If they do, they normally read (more likely scan) one or two of them.
  29. And if they are like most people, they skip the positive ones and read a negative one first, before going back to a positive one (if they even do that).
  30. The Author Bio and Picture 7
  31. At this point, the vast majority of people have made their decision (over ~80% in standard situations).
  32. Some people will now look at the author bio and picture to gauge status and importance if they still haven’t made up their mind.
  33. They have yet to read one single page, and they've already decided whether or not to buy the book. Note that this is before they interact with anything inside the book.
  34. The Book Text 8
  35. There are some people who actually browse some of the introductory pages of the book.
  36. These are the informed buyers, but they are a distinct minority.
  37. Probably less than 10% of your buyers do the thing that everyone says they want to do: judge a book by the content inside, and not the cover.
  38. The Price 9
  39. This is the last factor, but for a small minority it's the most important.
  40. For some reason, it appears that people are far more price conscious for ebooks than they are for physical books, probably because of value perception.
  41. Why Does This Matter?
  42. It is very important that you come to terms with this reality:
  43. It is very important that you come to terms with this reality: Most authors think all the things mentioned above are "only marketing" and ignore them, but not only are they very important, they are absolutely, utterly critical to get right if you want to have any chance of selling your book to a broad audience.
  44. The implication is obvious:
  45. If you care about selling copies of your book, you need to look at marketing with the same amount of importance as the writing. The implication is obvious:
  46. The authors that do this tend to succeed.
  47. The authors that don't … tend to fail.
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