Hooked on Book Idea, Buy and Save for LaterThis week I'm talking about reader motivations for buying a book. I've hypothesized these as the top five internal motivations for buying a book.
Top 5 Reader Motivations for Buying a Book
1. Instant gratification of entertainment
2. Hooked on book idea, buy and save for later
3. Teach me something
4. MUST read
5. Impulse buy
My previous post talked about #1, Instant Gratification of Entertainment. Today I'm discussing the #2 reader motivation for buying a book. This is the area where I believe the vast majority of fiction books fit.
Though most genre fiction writers would state they write to entertain, they would caveat their statement with other descriptors around themes and purpose, cross-genre influences, and the books would be larger in scope. That is not to say the books falling in the #2 category are "more serious" or that the books in the #1 category are less well-written. All good books have great characters, thematic presentations, good locations, and good writing.
#2 Hooked On A book Idea, Buy and Save for LaterThis kind of book is one that matches genre expectations, meets all the discoverability criteria, and does generate a click to read more. Of those clicks, perhaps 50% purchase. This type of book is NOT the easier purchase that the instant gratification entertainment enjoys.
The reader purchases the book because she believes it will be entertaining BUT not instantly. It might take more time (longer book), more mental energy (more characters, locations, or plot points to track), or require a specific mood to read and enjoy it. That is why it gets put in the "save for later" or the to-be-read (TBR) pile.
For example, I may enjoy the complexity and excitement of a good thriller, but that type of book requires more concentration for me to keep all the players straight. Sometimes the intensity of emotion or the jeopardy of the characters is more than I want to feel after a long day at work. But I know I enjoy it in the hands of a good author and I'll buy it when it comes out but save it for when I have the time to enjoy it.
These buy-and-save-for-later books do get a good number of purchases but they don’t get read quickly—often waiting for weeks or months in the reader's TBR pile. If the reader is not already a fan, the chance of getting picked up from the TBR pile lessens with each passing week as that book competes with all the other books in that pile.
Because these books don’t get read right away or get lost in the pile, they don’t get reviews, and they never generate good word of mouth. Eventually, these books fall into the discoverability black hole as the next 50,000 books are released the following month.
I understand this category really well, because this is where most of my fiction books fall. The only way to consistently increase sales on this type of book is to embrace your niche and work on growing a rabid fan base (5,000+). Once you get TRUE fans on your mailing list you can count on consistent sales. These true fans will buy your books, talk about your books, and beg for more.
It can be done, but it’s not instantaneous like the instant-gratification group. This applies to both fiction and non-fiction. Many people do make a great living writing these books. It just takes a lot more work in finding and keeping fans, and the author finds her bestseller status eight to fifteen books later instead of in the first three or so of the books that meet the #1 motivator.