Here’s an interesting poll on book buying.
The results (at the time of this posting) look like this:
1. Previous familiarity with author’s other work: 99.3%
2. Recommendation of a friend: 89.9%
3. Reading about the book on another person’s blog or site: 80.4%
4. Reading the first chapter online or in a bookstore 65.7%
5. Reading about the book on the author’s blog or website 65.0%
6. Cover art: 60.1%
7. A published (print or electronic) book review: 59.8%
8. Cover flap or blurbs, promotional quotes: 59.1%
9. Attending a reading or signing event with author (including convention): 56.6%
10. Bookseller or Librarian recommendation: 43.7%
11. Other 8.0%
12. Receiving a promotional e-mail from the author: 6.6%
13. Receiving a postcard from the author: 4.5%
14. Toys or gimmicks (translation-swag) from the author: 2.4%
It made me think about how often an author, particularly a new author at a small press, or a self-published author, will effectively work backward, focusing on the least effective methods first. We have postcards and bookmarks printed up, agonize because we don’t have contact information of our Amazon.com buyers so we can add them to our mailing list. We worry about not being in enough brick-and-mortar stores and libraries. We we set up a signing at our local Borders and act like it’s the second coming. All the things that are least effective.
Meanwhile, we often don’t pay enough attention to the most effective stuff:
1) Write a really good book, publish it, and then write another one. (I’m guilty here. Been so slow getting Cibola out. Not much longer. Promise!)
2) Ask friends and others who enjoyed our book to tell other people about it. Ask them to post feedback and Listmanias on Amazon. (Hint. Hint.)
3) I think this is a biggie: Seek out a variety of review blogs and spread the word that way.
Writing a good book that people (including bloggers) enjoy enough to recommend, having a good cover, a good synopsis on the outside, and professional, standard interior formatting all take precedence in a big way over postcards, swag, e-mails, book signings, and being stocked in stores and libraries.