Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

What Influences Book-Buying Decisions

One of the most persistent and pesky questions that authors and publishers deal with is what sorts of promotion are most effective for getting a book into readers’ hands. This is especially true now, as the whole world of advertising is changing so dramatically with the rise of the Internet and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Because of this (and because I’m infinitely curious about the degree to which an author can effectively promote her book independent of what her publisher does), here’s a little poll on how you make your book-buying decisions.

[poll id=”4″]

And I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours ;).


  • Leslie August 18, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I read book reviews from sources I trust: New York Times, New Yorker, Book Forum, Saturday Magazine, Washington Post, local newspapers (if the local newspaper can still afford to pay reviewers), and the like.

  • admin August 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Hey Leslie…I love reading reviews in newspapers, too, but I find they rarely review anything in the genres I like to read and, when they do, it’s likely to be books by big name authors (i.e., Nora Roberts) and often will be snarky/dismissive. I don’t get the impression the mainstream press, outside the publishing industry proper, has much interest at all in romance (unless it’s women fiction getting lumped in with romance).


  • Leslie Lee Sanders August 18, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    When I enter a bookstore the first books I look at are the ones being displayed near the entrance. Those are the books that I consider purchasing first when browsing for a new read.

    Also, knowing the author is published by a reputable publisher also pushes me to buy, because I know what to expect out of the book. So having an online presence where I can research the author is an influence too.

    I’m a fan of Cobblestone Press and Kensington books and to me they have a reputation for great books. Knowing BTRD was published with Kensington, it prompted me to look for it on the B&N shelves. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it at my local stores . . . yet.

    Reading a book from an author who’s published with ‘reputable publishers’ is entertaining and research at the same time. (This, coming from an author’s POV.)

    So to sum it up, the marketing strategies that work for me to help me determine my next read is: store placement (for paperback books) and online advertising/promotion/presence (for ebooks) which includes trailers, excerpts, blogs, etc.

    • admin August 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Leslie Lee,

      I’m sorry you haven’t been able to find BTRD in your local stores, though I must admit I’m a bit surprised. Admittedly, I’ve only been in stores in California and Minnesota, but everywhere I’ve been, they’ve had at least one copy, and in all the Barnes & Noble’s I’ve been in, it was (at least until a few weeks ago) shelved face out in the “New Romance” section.

      I will say that if you are looking for a specific book and don’t find it, it pays to go to the customer service people and ask them if they have it and/or order it. If you want to support an author, the best thing you can do is convince the bookseller that there’s demand for her book.

  • Kris Eton August 19, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I wish there was enough room on the store shelves for every book to face out. I have bought more books b/c of the title/cover art factor than anything else.

    Awesome cover art will grab my attention and make me read the blurb…and many times I’ve purchased. For some reason, I equate beautiful artwork on the outside as a sign of quality on the inside.

    I once bought a book on title alone…”The Lake of Dead Languages.” That was by Carol Goodman, sort of a literary mystery writer. And I LOVED the book.

  • Amie Stuart August 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Jackie you’re right–the “Times” is notorious for mostly reviewing literary fiction and the like. I DO check the reviews in PW because they seem to review a fairly wide variety of genres. That’s how I discovered Stephanie Rowe. But for the most part, I’d say reviews have little influence on me. At the same time, i DO scan reviews at places like amazon.com (I scan as many as I can–i don’t just take the first reviewers word for it that the book is going to rock my socks off).

    It’s an odd mish-mash of things that actually go into me buying a book but honest to God, I’m a HUGE impulse buyer (I AM a writer’s best friend in that sense–I have no hubby/higher power/etc. to answer to and buy what I want when I want). And it depends on how/when/where I heard about it.
    We got the Times list here in the office on Wednesday morning and THE HELP was #3 I think and the one line blurb sounded intriguing so I checked amazon and the book sounded so good, I ordered it and devoured it this weekend. You already know what I think of the book.


    a) if I get to know you online (usually via twitter or blogs/blog hopping but not “blog tours”) and your book sound’s interesting and/or I think you’re cool/funny/far out!, I’ll usually check it out.

    B) if i see a great cover and it keeps begging me to pick it up, I usually will. Must admit I’m a complete and utter whore/snob about book covers. If they’re ugly you’re screwed where I’m concerned LOL

    C) I also peruse amazon.com and bn.com and maintain Wish Lists–even if I dont buy I still add books I want.

    D) Rarely RARELY Do I buy a book anymore that I don’t read an excerpt first–I’ve been burned BAD!! by books that sounded fabulous and were complete and utter shit!


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