Why Did You Read That Book?

Why Did You Read That Book?

Have you ever thought about what caused you to pick up a book? It may be something you’ve never considered. However, as a self-published author, you can learn a lot from asking yourself why you read a certain book. Knowing the reasons that you and others choose to read a book will help you as you determine how to market your own book.

To start off this new year, let’s do an exercise looking at the last several books you read to help you pick a focus or goal for marketing your own books.

The Exercise

Make a list of titles you’ve recently read and enjoyed, then for each book, see if you can recall what made you decide to read it. The best way to do this is to write list of steps that were involved in getting you to the point of starting each book.

Here’s an example from my own reading. Recently, I read and enjoyed The Cardturner by Louis Sachar. This is what happened to make me pick up that particular book:

  1. I watched the movie Holes, which is based on a book by Louis Sachar.
  2. I remembered that I had previously enjoyed reading the book Holes and knew that Louis Sachar had written more books that I hadn’t read.
  3. I searched my library’s online catalog to see if it had any of his books. Turns out my library has several.
  4. I checked each book on Amazon to read a synopsis and see what kind of reviews it had.
  5. Finally, I chose to check out The Cardturner because it had the most interesting description on Amazon.

See how I’ve discovered a “path” to picking up a book? I’ve learned that it’s important for an author to let readers know he or she has written more books (step 2), that a good synopsis on Amazon is a great way to help readers choose my book over others (steps 4 and 5), and that some readers like to find books at the library (step 3).

What About After I Read the Book?

You can take this one step further and make it extra useful. Here’s another example from my recent reading, this time using the nonfiction book The Compelling Community. For this list, I’ll first show how I found about and decided to read the book, then I’ll also include a list of what happened after I read the book.

  1. I read an excerpt of the book The Compelling Community in an online magazine.
  2. The magazine excerpt was so good that I bought the book a few days later.
  3. After I finished the book, I visited the publisher’s website from a link in the back.
  4. On the publisher’s site, I subscribed to receive their free quarterly e-magazine of articles.

In this case, I discovered several things. First, I found out that a compelling sample is gold (steps 1 and 2) and that giving away a sample to a large number of people is better than simply offering it on Amazon (step 1). I also saw how important it is to have a link back to your website in your book (step 3) and a clear action step for a reader to take on the website to get your updates (step 4).

By doing this exercise, you’ll find the paths that you’ve followed to find books that you’ve enjoyed. If you carry the exercise further, as in my second example, you’ll also discover how the author has engaged you after you finished the book, giving them the opportunity to interest you in more books or products.

So make lists like these examples for several books you’ve read and enjoyed. For even more useful data, ask some friends to tell you how they got to their most recent reads. Look at all these lists and try to find ideas for ways you can market your book. Take some time to think about how you can position your book in a path to find new readers. Jot those ideas down, then choose one to focus on implementing into your author plan in this new year.

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