In these credit crunching times the big question for authors and publishers everywhere is what makes readers pick up a book. Here is a list of factors that the industry experts think are important. What do YOU think?
1. Word of mouth - Who do we really trust? When it comes to the important things in life - like reading - it's the opinion of friends, family and colleagues that counts. According to The Bookseller magazine, word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell a book, even in these media-saturated times. A quarter of people surveyed by the magazine said that they had bought their most recent book on the basis of a recommendation from a friend. Of course, word of mouth is not always a natural process and publishers do their utmost to think of ways to use the phenomenon. From viral marketing to social networking, there are many avenues to try to get a book into the hands of the literary pioneers in any group.
2. The Book Group - An influential way to create a buzz about a particular book and have fun at the same time.
3. Recommendations from TV Book Clubs - Oprah, Richard and Judy, the TV book group is hugely influential and has backed many titles that have come to be bestsellers.
4. The author - The author as a brand has become even more important. The survey found that the only factor more influential than word of mouth in making a reader pick up a book was if they had read and enjoyed a previous book by that author. Moral of the story - always write the very best book you can because it is your most important selling tool. Of course this is exactly what authors try to do, which is why reviews that suggest that you have rushed out a book or failed to do a good job are particularly disappointing.
5. Great cover art - it's official, people do judge a book by the cover. Luxurious thick paper, cut-out sections, embossing, full colour, even glitter all play their part. According to the research, a good cover can make or break a book.
6. In-Store Marketing - The 3 for the price of 2 offer can be very seductive, as can those pyramids of books by the front door of the ground floor of the bookshop. It take much more dedication to search through the shelves in the dark far corner on the fourth floor - though for some dedicated book-lovers that can be half the fun!
7. Prize Nominations - There is nothing more valuable than free publicity and book prizes can offer that in spades. This isn't a sure fire route to success, though. Some Booker Prize winners have fallen completely flat.
8. Unusual Titles - Can be gimmicky but also eye-catching. What's your favourite?
9. Reviews - Are they influential or do you like to make up your own mind? Good reviews can be brilliant; thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful, well-written. Poorly written ones... Let's not go there.
10. Newspaper or magazine publication - If the attention brings sales then great. If it persuades people they've had enough then hopefully the writer has still got a fee from the newspaper.
Are there any other factors that make YOU pick up a book? What do you think of the experts' view? Do you find reviews helpful? Do you judge a book by the cover? Do you like unusual titles?
You are invited to join me tomorrow on the UK Regency Authors Blog to discuss the enduring appeal of Scotland as a setting for historical romance!