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Choosing what to read

Now that I’m self-publishing I need to do my own promotion to raise awareness of my writing. (Actually, I needed to do that when I was traditionally published – but that’s another story).

The challenge for authors to get seen is huge in the saturated market for eBooks. How saturated? The answer is staggering though Amazon make it difficult to find an exact number. Based on others’ research, there could well be 7,500 new books released every day. The most conservative estimate arrives at a million new books per annum. Repeat – this is the most conservative estimate.

How can a novel by an author outside of the top list be discovered amidst the enormous volume of books out there? And assuming a book page is reached during a reader’s search for something new, what influences their decision to go ahead and select that book?

To delve into this, I set up a survey asking one question.

From the list below which is the single most important factor when selecting an eBook written by an author who is new to you?

I listed ten options based on what is visible on a book’s Amazon Home Page – Cover, Reviews, Description and Anything Else. I left out Price though. Of course this is a factor but with a large percentage of downloads from Amazon through Kindle Unlimited, I felt this would distort the findings.

Here are the results:

Which one of the ten options would you have selected?

Top of the list in the survey with over 40% was Description, subdivided between It tells me precisely what to expect (30%) and It poses questions, deliberately ambiguous (10%). Readers seem to prefer a straightforward account (presumably without spoilers) against any cryptic blurbs.

Reviews scored 26%, with Comments the highest percentage and Ratings taking most of the rest. I was surprised to see such a low score for Number of reviews. Perhaps readers share my wariness about value when some unknowns manage to acquire thousands of reviews on release.

Recommendation from a personal contact with 14% is clearly important (so please recommend my novels to friends!). Reading the ‘Look Inside’ sample text (6.75%) is low. You’d think people might want a quick read before deciding what to buy. Mind you, I rarely do that myself.

Amazon has been promoting something they call Content+, allowing publishers/authors to add displays on a book home page. I’ve produced some, (an example below – and you can click on each one for a preview read), but with a score of 0% in my survey, perhaps I need to reconsider constructing them because they take ages to put together.

I hope this has been a thought-provoking read, providing some idea of considerations for an author following the massive task of actually writing the book.

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