Authors dress their books up with covers and blurbs, and mingle with readers through marketing. Readers are searching for good books, checking out those covers and blurbs, looking for a good catch to take home and bundle up with.
The Pick-up Line
Trying to stand out, authors try to design fantastic covers, promote their books with special deals, or catch interest with a clever strapline. Readers want to be impressed; they won’t fall for a common one-liner. If the line does impress them, they will play hard to get.
The Blind Date
A reader who enjoyed a book sets the book up with a friend. The friend is nervous. If the book doesn’t turn out to be good, he will feel obligated to grind through it so he doesn’t let his friend down. He’s also worried that the book may be too good for him, with more vocabulary and complexity than he’s prepared to handle.
Authors interact with their target audience in person and online through readings, signings, seminars, presentations, blogs, fan pages, podcasts, and interviews. They brand their images over a period of months, hoping to show readers that they are serious about the relationship.
Finally, after weeks of branding, the reader has clicked link to view the book’s product page, read the blurb, and—oh, here it comes, the moment we’ve been waiting for—KISS!—the reader is viewing the Look Inside. It better be a good kiss. If you like it, there are hundreds of more pages where that came from. Come on, kiss this book like you’ve never kissed a book before.
It was a good kiss. The reader invited the book home for the evening. This is the best night ever, a moment the book will treasure for the rest of its life. It’s a dream come true.
The One-Night Stand
What happened? It started with a good kiss. The book went home with the reader. They had a great time. The next thing the book knows, it was returned. The reader is gone. How could this be?
Once the reader got home, it discovered that while the book had a handsome face, it was really a scoundrel of a character. Beyond the Look Inside, the book turned into something awful. The book is promptly dumped, confined to sit on a shelf, watch the reader pass by a few times each day, and bear the agony of seeing the reader sit by the fireplace with other books, smiling and laughing gleefully. Life is just unbearable.
Just what every book and reader were hoping for, the book was good enough to please the reader, who finally reached the climax of the book. The feeling is just wonderful. For a few minutes. Then the book realizes that this is the end. Well, it was good while it lasted. At least the reader left some change on the nightstand.
Every author dreams about the marriage: Readers who enjoy the first book so much they propose to marry the whole series. It will be a grand wedding.
While conversing with a fan, an author learns that she is reading a book in the same genre by a popular author. How could she do a thing like that? What will people think?
It’s that tragic moment when the reader gives up on a series. It was a match made in Heaven. What could possibly have gone wrong?
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Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers