Book Marketing Assignment: What Do Your Customers See?


Concept: The Customer’s Perspective

It’s a very handy perspective to see your book the way prospective customers see it. They are judging your book, deciding whether to buy it, never buy it, or think about it for a while. The more insight you can gain into this, the better you can perfect the marketability of your book.

Challenge: A Different Perspective

The customers and the author view the book through much different perspectives:

  • Customers are deciding if the book interests them. The author has a crush on the book, whereas customers aren’t sure if they even want to shake hands with the book, let alone take it out on a date or propose to it.
  • Customers have no idea what the book is about until they see the cover, read the blurb, and check it out. The author already knows what the book is about; the author even knows the story and ending.
  • Customers want to learn about the genre and content. The author already knows these precisely.
  • Customers stumble along the sentences of the blurb and Look Inside as they are written, noticing any typos or formatting issues. The author tends to read what he or she meant to write, not seeing what’s actually there (making it easy to miss typos). It’s difficult for the author to consider how each sentence might be misinterpreted.
  • Customers are comparing the book to similar books, noticing any differences with what they are accustomed to reading. Authors should be thinking this way, too, when preparing their product pages, but, unfortunately, usually aren’t thinking this way.

Assignment: What Your Customers See

Months after publishing, it’s worthwhile to rediscover your book. You’re no longer feeling that strong urge to publish it; you’re no longer overwhelmed with all the work that must be done to publish the book. You’ve forgotten parts of your blurb, which gives you a chance to see it with fresh eyes.

Here is your book marketing assignment:

  1. Search for your book on Amazon. See how it looks on a page of thumbnails. Imagine not knowing anything about your book. Would you be able to guess the genre and content instantly? Is the title easy to read in the thumbnail? If this were someone else’s cover, what criticism would you offer?
  2. Read your blurb as if you’ve just discovered it. Sound it out slowly, listening to it one syllable at a time. Check carefully for any typos. Does the beginning of your blurb grab your interest? Does the blurb engage you throughout? Does it arouse your curiosity to want to look inside? Are there any sentences or phrases that customers might find confusing, or could just be more clear? Do you see any words, clichés, phrases, or ideas that may upset or confuse your target audience? Is there any punctuation that you’re unsure about?
  3. Examine the biography on your author page the same way. Look at your author photo. Does it seem professional? Do you look credible as the author of your book?
  4. Look inside your book. Scroll back to see your enlarged cover. Read through your title page, copyright page, and front matter carefully; take breaks every couple of paragraphs. Note any formatting issues, no matter how subtle, that might have a little room for improvement; also note any editing issues. Does the front matter make a good impression? You want to roll out the red carpet to welcome the reader, not have the reader pull on a grimy doorknob, press against a splintered door, and walk down a dark, damp hallway.
  5. Read the sample chapters. Does it start out engaging the reader’s interest and hold it throughout? Does the beginning fit the target audience’s expectations for the genre and content? Look carefully for any formatting or editing mistakes. Imagine this is somebody else’s book and you’re determined to show that person how many mistakes there are. If the sample doesn’t make you want to buy your own book, perhaps there is some room for improvement; think of how you might make it more compelling.
  6. Check out other books in the genre or category that appear to be successful. How do those covers, blurbs, and sample chapters compare to your book? Look for ideas that could help you improve your book’s product page. What makes those books marketable? What might your book be lacking?
  7. Ask others to examine your book’s product page and encourage honest feedback.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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