The Heretic

by J.D. Rhoades 

While reading Tess' post last week on how it's not enough to be a writer anymore, I had a bit of an epiphany. It was expressed this comment in which I said:

I wonder if [publishers would] be saying that, say, book trailers were so vital if the publishers were required by law to write, produce, and pay for them, or if they'd say "aw, why bother, book trailers don't really sell more books."

And websites…you think anyone bought THE DA VINCI CODE because of Dan Brown's website? Does he even HAVE one? How many if the people who made Michael Connelly's last book a bestseller discovered him through his website?

I'll admit, that comment came off perhaps a little crankier than I had intended. Actually, truth be told,  I was a little crankier than usual that day for reasons we don't need to go into right now.  But I think the point's still valid: you may sell some books through the kind of marketing "everybody says" you have to do. But I really don't think that the people who make blockbusters blockbusters are buying books because they saw a trailer, or even because they saw a website.

I know this sounds like heresy.  But I think we here at Murderati, and all of us folks who frequent the book blogs, are a bit of a skewed sample. Most of us are not only hard-core book geeks, we also probably spend a lot of time on the Internet.

But here's something I've noticed. A lot of the biggest readers I know, including mystery readers, don't spend a lot of time Web-surfing, and those that do aren't hitting the book sites. My in-laws are voracious readers, and they don't even have a computer (which gives them more time to read).  Several of my colleagues in the law biz read a lot, and I can't remember a single one of them telling me they bought a book because they saw a trailer for it on YouTube or stumbled across the author's website. I know I've sold some books via people I've met on Facebook, and a few due to the blogging I do, but none of those sales were enough to kick me up to the bestseller lists. And while there have been a couple of times I'd have had to take off my shoes and socks to count the number of books I've sold at bookstore events, more often than not I can just use the fingers of one hand.  There have only been a couple times when the sales themselves justified the cost of the gas.

Now, do I think that publishers are just being evil and sadistic by telling us we need to do more and more,  and pay for more and more out of our own pockets? Not at all. I think they're just as baffled as we are, and when something looks like a good idea, and they don't have to pay for it, they're willing to say "hey, go for it," especially if everyone else seems to be doing it.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Lord knows, that's happened before. So writers and readers, I want to ask you to do me a solid.  I'm going to pose a few questions that I not only want YOU to answer, I want you to ask at least one friend or relative who reads and who you know IN PERSON, not just on the ''net.

1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you'd never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you'd never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author's 'net presence AFTER you read them?

3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you'd never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you'd never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

5. If you've ever  bought a book from an author who you'd never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

It's a totally unscientific survey, of course, but I'm interested in the replies.

120 thoughts on “The Heretic

  1. Jake Nantz

    1. … trailer for it on the Internet?

    Nope

    2. …based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Nope, found their online presence later.

    3. …because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Nope

    4. …because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, a couple of times. I actually bought a few audiobooks when I had (gasp, I know) never heard of this Michael Connelly guy. It was a two-fer on CD and I had a lot of driving to do and wanted to get my money’s worth. I’ve done the same with Jonathan Kellerman, Tony Hillerman, and a few others I should have been reading all along.

    I also bought White’s KILL ME and Higgins’s THE BORMANN TESTAMENT because I liked the premise on the jacket, and Deaver’s THE TWELFTH CARD because I’d seen the film of THE BONE COLLECTOR and saw that ‘Twelfth’ had that Lincoln Rhyme guy. Took me a few chapters to realize Rhyme wasn’t supposed to be black.

    Some had good placement, some not so good.

    5. …for any other reason, why was that?

    True Story – I was looking online to research if there were many characters whose military experience was from Desert Storm instead of Vietnam (as was so common for a while), and I found this guy on the library web that wrote thrillers AND was from right near me in NC. So, I read it and then went out and bought a copy. I also decided to get all stalker-ish and…

    Hmm…nevermind about that last part, Dusty….

    Reply
  2. Mark Terry

    Yeah, they burn people at the stake for saying things like this. So here are my answers:

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Once. “Plague Year” and it was because it was on Nathan Bransford’s blog with a, “isn’t this a great book trailer? Who says you can’t make a great trailer with no budget?” I was so captured by the premise of the novel–which I thought was a brilliant premise (and not quite as good execution, although it was pretty good–so I went out and bought the book.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Never. Yes.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes. All the time. I would say 60% on the front tables or NEW sections, and 40% just browsing the stacks.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Sometimes an interesting book review or word of mouth, which for me comes not so much from other readers, but from publications like Mystery Scene Magazine or ITW Report or ads in USA Today.

    Reply
  3. Kaye Barley

    Great Questions!!!

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Never have, but I have visited their website and/or blog after reading their book(s).

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes. Two names pop into mind. Linda Fairstein and Laura Lippman. Both times this happened, I was in an airport. I spotted Laura’s in the Baltimore airport (imagine that!) around 1998 or 99. I picked up Final Jeopardy in the Atlanta airport. Both these were in paperback, by the way.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    I pick up books by writers I’ve never heard of fairly often. I love to browse around in book stores and pick up books randomly – usually in the mystery section, but not always – read the jacket copy and if it sparks an interest, I’ll buy it. Most of the time though, I have to limit this sort of buying to paperbacks.

    Reply
  4. Catherine

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    NoBut then I’m not that interested in trailers.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Yes. About a half of the authors that post here regularly I had never heard of before I started reading Murderati. Based on their posts and views expressed here I then sought out their books for purchase…and have recommended them in person to anyone that even looks halfway interested.It’s only been in the last year or two that I keep track of my known authors websites so I can see when new books are coming out…although they can be handy source to links to other websites of people I haven’t read before.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    There aren’t that many instore promotions where I live to make my no significant.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes…usually in it’s genre section.Sometimes on the end shelf display.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Sometimes recommended by staff that know my taste.I can be attracted by my own highly subjective taste in regards to covers enough to read the first chapter.Sometimes it can be enough that it’s set in a location I’m interested in…sometimes because a situation is totally alien to me, and I want to see where it will go… sometimes because I can tell that a strong slightly flawed female character beyond anything I’ve come across is a main character.

    Reply
  5. ArkansasCyndi

    Coming out of lurkdom just for you!

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    NOPE

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    YES. I followed a favorite author to a group blog, got to know the other bloggers there, felt a “personal” connection with them and started buying their books.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    NO

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    YES. Usually audiobooks. And I confess, usually I find these on closeout aisles and figure with the discounted price, I can take the risk. (Tuesday Morning and BAM’s discount area are my two favorite spots). “discovered” Robert Crais, Kathy White, Jonathan Kellerman, etc.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Personal RecommendationA review that interested me

    I will admit that I avoid any book on Oprah’s list. She and I do not share reading tastes.

    Reply
  6. Jake Nantz

    Now that I think about it, I have found a lot of writers based on finding out about Murderati and other blogs, so I guess you can change my answer to #2 to a big yes.

    Sorry about that…

    Reply
  7. Mike MacLean

    After stumbling on to one of my stories in an anthology, a movie company found my website and hired me to write a few screenplays. Could they have tracked me down without the site? Sure. But maybe it would’ve been so much trouble, they would’ve offered the work to someone else. Someone with a site.

    So, a website not only functions as a news source for your fans, it also serves as an online business card. I’d recommend building a site to any new writer out there.

    As for trailers, I’m not so sure of their value.

    Here’s my answers btw.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    NOPE

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    AFTER

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    NOPE

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    YES. On the shelves, but with its cover facing out.

    Reply
  8. Margaret A. Golla

    Usually, #4. The cover and the back blurb look interesting.Though I have bought an author after judging her book for a contest.

    Reply
  9. Mike MacLean

    After stumbling on to one of my stories in an anthology, a movie company found my website and hired me to write a few screenplays. Could they have tracked me down without the site? Sure. But maybe it would’ve been so much trouble, they would’ve offered the work to someone else.

    So, a website not only functions as a news source for your fans, it also serves as an online business card. I’d recommend building a site to any new writer out there.

    As for trailers, I’m not so sure of their value.

    Here are my answers btw.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    NOPE

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    AFTER

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    NOPE

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    YES. On the shelves, but with its cover facing out.

    Reply
  10. Stephen D. Rogers

    1 – trailer – no2 – online presence – no3 – appearance – yes, yes, yes4 – store – yes, faced out5 – other – word of mouth, reviews, blurbs

    Ad – noTV ad – noRadio interview – yes

    Reply
  11. Joey W. Hill

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet? No

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    As a reader, I would say no, but as an author, I can’t say for certain. In this business, you spend so much time interacting with other authors, doing cross blogs, etc, that it’s entirely conceivable that when I’m in a bookstore, I see a title and think “Hey, that’s so-n-so’s newest. It sounded pretty good when we were doing the Writerspace chat together, etc.”

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest? NO

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes. Usually the romance or fantasy section when I was browsing for other titles. I carry a list of books in my purse that have been recommended to me by other authors and reader and often I’ll see another title that will catch my eye when I’m looking for them.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    95% of the books I buy are recommendations from readers, authors, and other people I know. As noted under question #2, there have been times when I’ve picked up an author from something I’ve seen while doing promo or industry research, like reading Romantic Times magazine. Now, all that said, I subscribe to the theory “50% of promotional effort works – nobody knows which 50%, though!” I think it is effective to do a wide variety of promotion techniques that put you in contact with new and existing readers, because they are the long term investment in success. A reader who loves your work is going to tell a bunch of people about it, and if some of them agree with her, that net spreads. It’s not instant success, but over ten years of steady build, it seems like the best strategy is a multi-faceted one with that primary aim in mind – win the reader’s heart.

    An important side effect of those promo efforts is the impact on other authors as well. I secured an agent because an author with an agent liked my work and recommended to the agent that she take me on as a client. Another NYT bestselling author loved one of my books and talked it up on her blog, drawing more readers to my stories. So again, it really seems like building a web, or the foundation of a house, one solid brick at a time.

    That’s just my two cents. Great blog! Loved the comment about publishers being baffled (lol). They’d likely agree with that. ;>

    Reply
  12. Nicki Leone

    Not precisely a book trailer, but there is a book on the indie bestseller list by Kelly Corrigan that rocketed up list in large part because of this youtube video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_4qwVLqt9Q

    booksellers passed it along to each other, put it in their newsletters, on their websites, etc.

    It’s worth noting that what’s attractive about the video isn’t it’s production, it is it’s authenticity.

    Reply
  13. Bill Cameron

    1. Trailer? — No. I say this from the perspective of someone who has made two book trailers for myself and critiqued book trailers of others while they were in production: I find book trailers a turn-off.

    2. Online presence? — Nope. And my day job is web developer. Visiting an author’s web site is always an after the fact thing for me.

    3. Bookstore appearance? — Yes, including a couple of authors who’ve since become among my all-time faves. John Straley? Accidentally happened to walk in on an appearance.

    4. In store? Yes. Usually faced out. I wander the shelves looking for new finds, but it’s hard to find those new finds when they are spine out only. Amazing how few spines are designed to actually be readable, let alone interesting or attractive.

    5. Other? — Recommendation from others, particular bookstore staff and friends. Reviews also, though less often. I’ve also bought books based on hearing or reading author interviews. Print ads have sometimes inspired me to at least check out a book, but it has to look interesting for other reasons. TV and radio ads for books are a turn-off for me.

    Reply
  14. Karen Olson

    Another question you might want to ask, Dusty, is whether people wandering a book store will pick up a book because of its cover. I’ve done that more times than I can remember, a cover looks intriguing so I read the flap copy and may end up buying the book.

    Reply
  15. Peter K

    1. No

    2. No, usually find the web presence after being aware of the author

    3. No

    4. Yes, my most common method, location depends, in some cases due to a specific display catching my eye, or in the new arrivals section. If I’m looking for a specific genre just through browsing the relevant section

    5. Typically through recommendation of friends who share similar tastes or a review I have read, particularly if it is represented favorably in comparison to other authors I already enjoy. Of course there’s also just the whim of the moment where the jacket synopsis sparks my interest

    Reply
  16. Bill Cameron

    Follow comment to Mike MacLean: you make an excellent point that a web presence is valuable for reasons other than selling books to new readers.

    These days, people expect to be able to find you on the web, even if that’s not where they discover you first. A web presence is necessary and valuable, though I doubt it sells many books.

    Reply
  17. Daniel S Boucher

    When I buy a book it is usually due to one of four reasons and none of them have to do with a commercial, trailer, web-surfing or the like.

    I will buy because:

    1. I know and already enjoy the author.

    2. A trusted resource has recommended it to me.

    3. A good review for a genre I enjoy.

    4. I’ve read the first chapter in a book store and decided to take a chance.

    Reply
  18. Jena Snyder

    Trailer, online presence, appearance, ad, interview – nope (although I do often go to authors’ websites after I’ve read their work).

    I definitely get ideas for new authors/books from blogs like Murderati, but I always use my tried-and-true buying method: read first page, read random page, read another random page. Never the back copy. Rarely read reviews, because I don’t want to know *anything* going in, and reviews tend to reveal way too much.

    In the store, I usually rely on my brilliant and extremely well-read friend who works in an independent bookstore to recommend new authors to me. (But I still use my “read 3 pages” routine to decide to buy or not.)

    If I’m on my own, I scan the general fiction and the mystery sections, picking up books at random. Titles sway me a lot, cover art some.

    Reply
  19. PK the Bookeemonster

    JD, here’s a twist on your questions perhaps. Have I ever used an author’s website, etc. as the PRIMARY source of information? No. But I use it as a resource to make my decision whether or not to read that author. Typically, it is the RELATIONSHIPS on the web that bring an author’s name to my attention and from there if the initial spark was ignited I go in search of more info. So yes, it is important to do stuff like this because you don’t know from where the initial contact will come. For much of mine, it’s 4MA and blogs. Other sources of info are my library’s website, Stop You’re Killing Me, Amazon, author’s website’s, publisher’s websites, review websites. Trailers? No. Personal signings? No, because I’m way off the circuit in Montana. Niche magazines/journals? Yes. Conferences? It worked for the one I attended but I can’t afford to attend, really. That one (LCC Denver) was a treat. So, yes, the Internet is a good marketing tool for authors, especially for those like me who are not living in the big cities and have limited funds other than to get the occasional book. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Sandra L.

    1. NO, I’ve never bought a book because of a trailer on the internet.

    2. Yes, I bought your book, J.D. because I saw you on facebook and then I checked out your website. I also intend to purchase some books by other authors for the same reason. Facebook has brought me in contact with authors that I normally would not know by any other means.

    3. I’ve only bought books from authors appearing in bookstores if I know them.

    4. I’ve bought mystery books by authors I’ve never heard of mainly because of the cover and also many non-fiction books. {mainly books on writing, publishing and fitness books}

    5. There are many non-fiction writers out there that I have never heard of, so if the subject is of interest, I will buy the book whether I’ve heard of the author of not.

    Reply
  21. Morgan Mandel

    I used to read books on the train and buy them at the library book sales or kiosks. I’d either pick ones from authors I knew or ones with covers and first pages I liked.

    Now, since I’ve been writing, I don’t have as much time to read. I still go to library book sales, first look for favorite authors, then again look for covers and first pages I like. The majority of books I buy now are autographed from authors themselves whom I’ve met in person. Once in a while, I’ll buy a book from someone who appears on my blogspot or another’s, someone whose blogspot I follow, or someone I’ve met on a listserv. I’ve also bought books that sounded good on Internet newsletters. Unless it’s a short trailer, I either don’t have the time to watch it or I get bored.

    Morgan Mandelhttp://morganmandel.blogspot.comhttp://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.comhttp://twitter.com/morganmandel

    Reply
  22. Ben Rehder

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Never the former, very infrequently the latter.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, plenty of times, and those books were usually on the regular shelves, not in premium positions.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Word of mouth. A friend said it was great.

    Reply
  23. Josephine Damian

    I can ansewer all these with #5: whether I stumbled upon a book mentioned on an author’s website/blog, discussed anywhere on the web, saw a book trailer (I only see those rare ones that get to be on TV and ignore the rest), or an author was doing a signing – I would never buy a book – regardless of whether or not I’d heard of the author – unless they grabbed me on the first page.

    Hype and online promotion may bring books to my attention that otherwise I might have missed, but unless the author shows me they know what they’re doing by not screwing up their opening then I’m not going to buy their book regardless of how much or how little they’ve done/spent to promote it.

    Until agents and publishers stop believing those types of promotions work, I’m afraid we’re all going to have suck it up and do it.

    Yes, even Dan Brown has a website.

    Reply
  24. tess gerritsen

    Dusty, thanks so much for taking the topic the next logical step. Because it’s true, no one knows what works, yet publishers urge us to do it ALL.

    To answer your questions, I’d answer yes to #3, 4, and 5. Book trailers never talked me into anything.

    I confess, what I’m a sucker for is an intriguing cover. That’s the number one attraction. Then some great flap copy.

    I’ve come around to believing that the internet works as a book-selling tool only when it magnifies what we already know actually does work — reader word of mouth.

    Reply
  25. River jordan

    Nope nope, nope, nope, nope is that enough nopes. I have bought plenty out of bookstores just because cover captivated me and then the first line cinched it. Nothing more. Sometimes on recommendations. Or a summary that appeared somewhere.

    Reply
  26. Toni

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No. In fact, I’ve seen a couple of book trailers that were so poorly produced and acted, had I not already read the books in question, they’d have turned me off of doing so.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    After.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes. Several times.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes; one of my favorite books ever, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver caught my eye because of the vibrant color red on the paperback edition. Tana French’s In the Woods was prominently displayed at my independent book store and I gave it a go; it was one of my favorite reads of that year.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Typically word of mouth.

    Reply
  27. Cathy Fiorello

    None of that stuff, really. When I get to know someone on line, like at RAM, I will buy their books. But I only look at website afterwards, if at all. It’s mostly word of mouth, and sometimes seeing the cover. Paying to be upfront and cover out seems worth it–the rest of it, not so much.

    Cathy

    Reply
  28. Randy Johnson

    1. Trailer – never2. Blog – a couple, but mostly not.3.appearance at a book store – no. Usually by then, I’m looking for an auograph.4. saw it in store – most of them, usually in dumps at the front.5. a few seen on television and thought they sounded interesting

    Reply
  29. Karen Dionne

    “I really don’t think that the people who make blockbusters blockbusters are buying books because they saw a trailer, or even because they saw a website.”

    Amen, Brother!

    Recently, an author sent Backspace an op-ed that touches on this heresy as well. We published it because we feel it’s important for authors to have a realistic view of what Internet promotion can and can’t do for sales. http://www.bksp.org/content/view/148/1/

    To your questions, it appears I and my Real Life Person are in the majority:

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Me: NOReal Life Person: NO

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Me: NOReal Life Person: NO

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Me: NOReal Life Person: NO

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Me: YES. FRONT TABLES, MOSTLY, SOMETIMES IN THE GENRE SECTION.Real Life Person YES. FRONT TABLES, MOSTLY, SOMETIMES IN THE GENRE SECTION.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Me: MET THEM IN PERSON, SUCH AS AT THRILLERFESTReal Life Person: RECOMMENDATION FROM OTHERS, REVIEWS IN TIME MAGAZINE OR ON NPR

    Reply
  30. John McFetridge

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Sort of. There’s a great bookstore in Toronto called Sleuth of Baker Street (you can see them in the dealer’s room at Bouchercons) and the owners Marion and JD will often recommend a book they think I’ll like because they know me.

    At Murder on Main Street in Vermont the owner talked to me for a few minutes and then recommended “Go With Me,” by Castle Freeman, a terrific book.

    I think bookstores call it ‘hand-selling’ and it probably accounts for most new author sales.

    Be a shame to lose that.

    Reply
  31. Cara

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?No

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?NoOr did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?Yes, case in point Jochin Teorin’s book which I realized I’d seen on Sarah Weinman’s blog

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?Yes

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting?Yes.Where was it in the store? The mystery section

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?The cover made me pick up the book, the inside flap jacket info grabbed me

    Reply
  32. Cara

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?No

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?NoOr did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?Yes, case in point Jochin Teorin’s book which I realized I’d seen on Sarah Weinman’s blog

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?Yes

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting?Yes.Where was it in the store? The mystery section

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?A recomendation or the cover made me pick up the book, the inside flap jacket info grabbed me

    Reply
  33. Steve Kelner

    1. …The trailer: nope.

    2. Website, blog, or MyFace page? Or… AFTER? In terms of buying an author, no. In terms of buying a book, yes. I did buy The Darwin Awards after seeing the website, I believe, or seeing a link to it on a skeptic’s website. But that was a website first! Similarly, we also bought the LOLCats book, because we followed the website. (So I’m not hard-boiled. So sue me.) The nearest to this is reading a review on a website, which doesn’t really count, by your question.

    3. Appearing in a bookstore and caught your interest? I think so, but usually when we were there to see Toni and someone else was there! Not by accident, I don’t think.

    4. Saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it? This is my most common approach. I poke around the bookstore across from our office downtown all the time. I’ve bought books on the new book tables, the new book sections in areas I normally look (e.g., history, SF, mystery) on endcaps ditto, and sometimes when they are just laid out on special tables as well (e.g., the buy 3-for-2 deal Borders does). Finally, I search through my usual sections for writers I know, but have had my eye caught by a title or cover, after which I read the description.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that? Recommendations by others I trust, well-written reviews that catch my eye (more often for nonfiction, in Salon.com), or it catches my eye in a store and I like the concept.

    Reply
  34. Lee Child

    Dusty, surely (I know, don’t call you Shirley) the real answer to most of these questions is, “No, but yes.” In that, in any process, there’s a time base at work. Like, your ship goes down in the Pacific … some passengers grab lifejackets and food and water and they improvise rafts … and they’re still alive when the rescue plane arrives. Most book sales are vague impulse purchases based on being in proximity to an attractive package, or based on having vaguely heard about a good read from a friend, maybe six months ago. But those sales are made because the book is in the drugstore or the airport rack when the impulse hits. And generally books don’t get that kind of distribution unless there has been a couple years’ of “do it all” prep work by the author and publisher. It’s a chain of causation, I think.

    Reply
  35. Graham

    1) No, never bought a book based on a trailer.

    2) I bought THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE by Lee Goldberg because of his blog, but I also because it sounded like something I would enjoy. It’s (sigh) still on the TBR stack.

    3) I have never bought a book by an author I had never heard of because of a signing. I have many times bought books by authors I HAVE heard of at signings, though.

    4) I can think of a couple of times when I bought books I had never heard of because the cover or title caught my eye: THE BOOKMAN’s WAKE by John Dunning, and THE POLISH OFFICER by Alan Furst.

    5) I have bought many, many books from authors I never would have heard of if not from blogs, email lists, and general Internet word-of-mouth. In fact that’s how I hear about most of the new authors I start reading.

    Reply
  36. B.G. Ritts

    1 & 3 — no

    2 — maybe; if by ‘never heard of’ you really mean until just stumbling upon the website, then no; if it counts that I heard of the author somewhere, under any kind of circumstance, and then looked at the site before deciding to buy or not, then yes.

    4 — yes; I just browse to find reading material, rarely buy from the table(s) out front, usually on the shelves in the section I’m interested in at the moment, with covers and end flap commentary being important; browsing Amazon has been very costly for me.

    5 — yes and the explanation is going to be convoluted (and subject to my poor memory):

    I grew up with books in the house, including a two volume Lincoln Library and set of Britannicas (we also had an operating V-8 engine in the basement, a mounted set of messaging bells from a stern wheel paddle boat, a full sized Wurlitzer juke box, rifles and guns, etc). There were teachers in my family. I had a library card, at least by junior high. There were lots of things to be interested in and be curious about. Knowledge was its own reward. I don’t remember not reading. (We didn’t have a television at home until the mid 50s, which was after I started school in 1953.)

    After college, I started buying books: a Britannica set of my own (and their Great Books series), dictionaries, thesauri, books on whatever college had whetted my appetite for. If I wanted to know about a subject, I’d go to the library or buy a book. I was still into knowledge acquisition. In my mid 30s, when I finally moved far enough from home to not have family as a convenient backup, my taste in reading finally tipped more to reading for fun.

    This also coincided with the rise of the personal computer, which I finally got for my home in 1988. I hooked up to the Internet in 1995. The die was cast. My mid 30s to late 40s found me reading mostly what my friends were reading. But after cruising the ‘Net, if I found something, I’d buy the mentioned book — often by looking through Amazon for it. (Does anyone else remember when Amazon sent thank you gifts to customers at the end of the year?)

    AOL had discussion groups. They had Usenet access. That was how I found rec.arts.mystery. RAM is what opened my reading to more than Cornwell and Grafton and Grisham. RAM is how I learned about Bouchercon. The Vegas B’con is how I met Pari. Pari started Murderati. I would have wound up here in any case, Dusty, because I knew you from RAM. But the online experience has widely broadened my reading list. Going to Bouchercon has too.

    When I see a recommendation online, or hear a new (to me) author speaking on a panel, I will probably do some (more) online investigation about the author’s work. If I like what I discover, I will most likely try at least one of his/her books. Often, the title I choose will be the one most highly rated on Amazon, or recommended on sites like Books-n-Bytes or Fantastic Fiction, or rated well by a few favorite reviewers.

    The process of who I choose to read has taken a lifetime, which includes all that has happened and developed along the way. Now, most of my new reading will come about in some way because of the Internet.

    Reply
  37. Kathie

    1. No, never.

    2. Never bought a book, but yes, did read a book (several actually) via the library. Up until last year, with the exception of Lee Child’s and Jennifer Weiner’s work, I never even thought to look for an author’s website (frankly, I thought that would be more of the publisher to handle to allow the author to, well, write – and what do I care what the publisher has to say? Nothing more than I already knew by reading the book.)

    3. Last time I was at a bookstore (other than the quaint used one in town which never has book signings, it would be a fire code violation) was back in college, I think. So no.

    4. Yes! I won’t qualify the book’s location because when I do actually go into a store (Target, Costco, used book store), I have to sift through books and I spend my time reading the backs and first few pages because, oddly, I feel strange without Amazon or B&N’s reader ratings and reviews.

    5. All the time.

    This year is the first time I’ve ever paid any attention to Internet trailers (although, I’ve been intrigued by a few tv trailers that I’ve seen, but admit not enough to remember the title and run out to buy it), spent anytime visiting author websites or the like (although, I’ve been to both Jenn’s and Lee’s sites long ago just to see when they would be in town and am always a day late and a dollar short). The only reason I’ve been investigating has been to figure out what I’ll have to do in order to promote my own book.

    My personal book buying experiences come from boredom at the airport or having run out of reading material on vacation and by reading the covers and first few pages of a number of books before I even do make the purchase. I seldom buy new, I’m raising a family. I never buy a hard cover unless it’s half the price of the paper and even then hesitate because I don’t have a lot of space. I will buy collections and have a kid that does the same.

    Personally, I’d spend my money promoting by using LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer and their newest feature (can’t recall it, but essentially you’re bound to reviewing the book on Amazon.com in exchange for a free book), getting beta readers to read the book and put up reviews at Amazon/B&N/Powells and the like. As a reader, I could care less about author websites. Why? It ruins the fantasy of the characters/worlds/places/situations I read about.

    Hope that helps, J.D.! I’ll be sure to forward the survey to a few good friends of mine, including a couple that are exclusively readers, not writers. ;0)

    Reply
  38. Zoë Sharp

    Wow, Dusty, this is a great topic

    1 – trailer – no. We have a very slow internet connection and it seems counter-intuitive to watch a visual medium in order to be tempted into buying a non-visual medium.

    2 – online presence – sometimes. If I come across an author by some other means, I may go and check out their website, particularly to see if there’s an extract I can read to get a handle on their voice. But, all this does is make me pick up a book by that author when I next visit a bookstore, and have a flick through. It does not make me rush onto Play.com and order it unseen.

    3 – appearance – again, I have bought books by new-to-me authors if I’ve done bookstore events with them, but normally the only time I’d buy a book at a bookstore event would be if I was already a fan.

    4 – store – yes. Particularly if the cover or the title grabs me, or if there’s a backlist all lined up to get my attention. I also go to the remainder stores (I know – double heretic!) because if I take a low-cost chance on a new-to-me author and enjoy it, I’ll go out and pay full whack for their next book.

    Also, we don’t have the same proactive sales style in bookstores in the UK. You’re pretty much left to your own devices and you’re lucky if you get a desultory, “Thanks” on the way out. In the States, I’ve watched in amazement as people who work in bookstores handsell like crazy to people who come in and ask them for recommendations.

    This, to me, is the reason for doing a bookstore event. I don’t expect to cover the cost of fuel on the night, but it’s great to meet the bookstore staff and hope that you’ve left enough of a good impression that they’ll handsell you long after you’ve gone.

    5 – other – word of mouth and swaps from friends, but not really reviews or blurbs. Most of all, I distrust hype. It has in the past actively put me off reading or buying a particular author, rather than attracted me towards them.

    I have frequently bought books by authors whose panels I attended at conventions, if I liked what they had to say. But, again, that would only make me seek out the title on the tables in the book room and have a look. If it doesn’t grab me, it stays where it is.

    So, I quizzed my Other Half, what does make us buy books by new-to-us authors? We cruise the mystery/thriller aisles in bookstores, looking for titles that jump out at us, looking for a body of work. So, if it ain’t on the shelves, or the backlist is no longer available, that’s a big drawback.

    Reply
  39. Joe Moore

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No, and sadly, I have 4 book trailers promoting my books on the Internet and youtube.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    No.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Absolutely. Mostly on the front tables but sometimes face out in the genre sections.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    They grabbed my attention on a panel at a writer’s conference.

    Reply
  40. Louise Ure

    Looks like you kicked up a firestorm here today, J.D.

    I put websites in a different category, as I think they’re necessary for booksellers, reviewers and avid readers to get the latest info on upcoming books.

    The rest of it? Feh. Although I do have several friends who say they’ve purchased Toni’s books because the extraordinary voice in her blog posts here.

    If it were left up to me, I’d put all promotional dollars (my own and the publishers) into bookstore displays and placement and added visibility for the books on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

    Reply
  41. Dana King

    1 – Neither of us have ever bought a book because of its trailer.

    2 – I once took a book out of the library after reading an author’s web site, but never boguth one. My Control Sample friend has never done so, either.

    3 – No for me; yes for him.

    4 – Yes for both of us. Could have found it anywhere: shelved by topic, Buy 2 Get 1 Free table, front display.

    5 – I can’t think of any, but my friend has, if the topic interested him.

    Reply
  42. J.T. Ellison

    I think a little of the Heretical is a good thing ; ) I polled Randy, since he’s the only living creature in the house that speaks this morning.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Me: No, but I did get one fan mail from a reader who bought 14 when they saw the video on YouTube. Since it cost me nothing to make, it made me money.

    Randy: No

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Me: Net presence after reading, definitely.Randy: Bought non-fiction based off blogs.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Me: Yes, I have.Randy: No

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Me: That would be 90% of my buys. I roam the stacks, so anywhere and everywhere. The two for one table is always a draw…

    Randy: Yes. Face out on a shelf, not on the co-op tables.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Me: Friend recommendations. If I’m skeptical, I go to the library for one. If I love it, then I buy them all.

    Randy: Met at a conference

    Distribution and placement are 9/10th of the law. Dusty, I think your point is well taken.

    Reply
  43. pari

    Dusty,You’re not a heretic; you’re spot on. After all my years in public relations/marketing, I finally have very little faith in what individual authors can do (other than the whole Tipping Point business and that’s for another post). The kind of media blitz required to really get into the public consciousness is far beyond most of our means.

    Here are answers from my hubby to your survey. He’s an avid reader.1. No2. No3. No4. Yes. Most of the time the books are on the shelves and they’re near others — they have interesting covers or descriptions that intrigue me.5. Often I try out authors in the library and if I really like them, I’ll buy their later books.

    Me?1. No2. No3. Yes4. Yes — shelves usually in genre specific or category specific locations. I’m not much of a “front of the store” kind of gal and have never used those Amazon “If you bought this book, you’ll love this one . . . ” doohickies.5. Yes — see #45. Yes

    Reply
  44. Don Paul

    Ghods, I hate the internet… I had a long answer typed in, went to get a book to see how the author’s name was spelled and came back to find the entire answer in the ether. Which confirms : No internet inspiration. With my marketing hat on, it is a dreadful medium for targetting the over 35’s. We hardly bother for the older whisky brands, but spend fortunes on it for Levi Strauss and J&B.

    Previously (I’m now reading so much I joined the public library)my main mode was the New Releases shelves, relying a great deal on the cover picture and Staff Recommended sticker. But over the past 5 years or so, I’ve found genre identification important in my selections. And once baited (Perez-Reverte and his Fencing Master turned me on to Spanish authors translated) I’m a sucker. Back to that cover picture and the proferbial 1000 words… If you are writing about Southern Noir, then give me The South on the cover. Be it title, road sign, wisteria… shit, I don’t know, never been to any Carolina.North or South.

    I do know that if there is a babe with a cleavage, more men will pick it up (thereby excluding many a woman reader/purchaser)… I swear my whisky book did so miserably because the publisher put an old Scot on the cover where I wanted a babe with a gigar swigging a single malt.

    The single biggest mover of books, in my opinion, is word of mouth. Spend your marketing on putting out 100 or 1000 samples among readers… who, with the economy up the creek, will share them with friends and neighbors (with advice to read…”it’s amazing”)and in no time, you will have traction in the marketplace… at which point Facebook comment etc kick in and cash registers tingle.

    Oh.. did I mention PR… interviews in the press with the author certainly kick some sales – remember, many people read authors and not necessarily good writing – which is why Paris Hylton outsells Dusty Rhoades. Ouch.

    D

    Reply
  45. BV Lawson

    I can make it fairly easy for you, I think, as the answer to all 5 questions from own personal experience is “no,” since I pick and choose carefully, after much research.

    My mother, on the other hand, is one of the most avid crime fiction readers I know, having purchased and checked out from the library hundreds upon hundreds of books through the years. She can barely use the Internet for e-mail and would also answer “no” to most of the questions except possibly:

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, she’s done this, but it’s always in the mystery fiction section.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    She prefers mysteries by women authors, because she doesn’t like excessive violence or foul language.

    Since my mother is in her 70s, perhaps an interesting study would be a breakdown of the questions by age group. I have a suspicion that folks under 40 would be much more likely to respond “yes” to the first 2 questions.

    Reply
  46. Brett Battles

    1. No2. No3. No/Yes4. Absolutely. Many times…sometimes up front, sometimes in the stacks, sometimes on an end cap. No telling. Just what catches my eye.5. I think once or twice I might have bought a book I heard about for the first time on the radio (usually NPR)…but most new “finds” are either ones that fall into my answer for #4 or are books recommended to me by people whose opinion I trust.

    Reply
  47. rosebud

    1. No

    2a. – No 2b. Yes

    3. No (Can’t recall ever being in a bookstore when an author was there. Maybe I live near crappy bookstores.)

    4. A couple of times…maybe. It was on a display in front, on a sale table, or on an endcap most likely.

    5. Somehow (if I signed up for it, I don’t remember)I ended up on an email mailing list from an independent bookstore. I get the vast majority of my new authors from their list/recommendations. They’ve all panned out really well, so I trust their opinion. If I like a book, then I’ll go check out the author’s website. Sometimes those author’s recommend or mention other books or writers that I’ll go try.I can only think of one writer I really enjoy who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a website at all. Hasn’t kept me from seeking their books,though.

    Also, since I’ve ordered from B&N and Amazon, they send at least one email a week with one thing or another that may make me go wandering through their site.

    Although, the ones they send that say “You’ve looked at so and so, we think you might like such and such…”, spooky. Stop following my breadcrumbs!

    Reply
  48. J.D. Rhoades

    Wow. I’m impressed by the level of response here, both quality and quantity. Obviously, there are more answers than I have time to respond to individually right now, but I will be tabulating up the numbers later and mulling them over.

    Mike makes an excellent point about the importance of the website for other purposes than pure sales bump.

    Josephine touches on something with this response: “Until agents and publishers stop believing those types of promotions work, I’m afraid we’re all going to have suck it up and do it.”

    How much of this stuff do we do, not to actually sell books, but to impress the publisher and get them to put the push behind a book that only a publisher can?

    Reply
  49. toni mcgee causey

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Nope. And I have a detailed trailer–but that trailer was never to try to sell books to the public. It was to create a quick-easy way for the sales reps to “get” the book because it was cross-genre. That part seemed to work well, and St. Martin’s made copies and sent it out with all of the reps, who reported back better orders because they had it. Anything else is complete langiappe. I didn’t bother to do one for book 2 and I doubt I do one for book 3.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I have bought many books after going to an author’s page IF THERE WAS AN EXCERPT. I am an excerpt slut.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    I can’t remember any. (Besides someone I already had heard of, that is.)

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Hell yeah. We’re talking hundreds of books here. All over the store–I am a very eclectic reader.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Word of mouth. Someone raved about them, and I either knew the person raving (and trusted their tastes) or someone blogged about someone and their raving was so cogent, I was compelled to go look up more information about the book.

    Reply
  50. Rae

    Ooh, fun questions….

    1 and 2, No. Have never seen a book trailer, and I’m scared of Facebook.

    3, Sort of yes. I’ve accompanied friends to signings of authors whose work I haven’t read, and bought their book because it caught my interest.

    4, Absolutely yes, and it’s also true for my off-the-web friends who read. It’s the great thing about bookstores, especially the independents, wandering around and fossicking amongst the shelves. And, I find books all over the store, and usually ignore the displays in the front – they’re too ‘flavor of the month’ for my taste most of the time. On the subject of independent bookstores, there’s nothing like walking into your favorite bookstore and having the lovely people say “Oh, here you are, we have recommendations for you.” It’s a great way to find new authors.

    5, I find most of my new authors either from recommendations on sites like Murderati or RAM or 4MA, or in the boxes of books that are sent to me to review for Crimespree (which I don’t have to buy, of course, but I’ve certainly discovered some great writers through reviewing).

    And, not that you asked 😉 but in terms of marketing and web presence for writers, as a reader I like author websites that give me useful information, such as what books they’ve written, when the next book is coming out, etc. etc. As far as blogs and forums and so forth, I think they provide an invaluable service for all of us – fun places to hang out and chat about books.

    Reply
  51. toni mcgee causey

    “How much of this stuff do we do, not to actually sell books, but to impress the publisher and get them to put the push behind a book that only a publisher can?”

    There is a middle group of people that we’re not considering here, and they’re the most important group — the sales reps and the book buyers for the chains (other than the big chains–the smaller chains) and the indie stores. If we’re realistic about this, sales reps only have about 30 seconds per book to hawk it to the buyers when they go into a store. If an author has something that sets them apart from the other midlists authors, it is within the realm of possibility that that “something” will give the reps an angle to use to pitch that book instead of the twenty others in that same midlist range. Sometimes, that “something” is a slight bit more of a push from the publisher to focus on that title instead of one of the others. Sometimes it’s some angle the author figured out that marketing fell in love with and utilizes.

    The problem is, obviously, finding something that’s interesting that works vs. just doing the same old thing that everyone else is doing now. And also, knowing when to be realistic about *what* you’re doing and how effective it will really be. If you’re doing the same sort of trailer everyone else has, then odds are, it’s just going to be white noise and people aren’t going to remember it, so it ultimately is a waste of money. Same thing with individual expenses, like bookmarks and swag at conferences. Now, if that swag were directed at librarians or booksellers and it was cool / fun / useful? You might get more attention with it.

    Reply
  52. David Terrenoire

    1. Trailer? Me – No. My Friend – No.

    2. website, blog, or MyFace page? Me, yes. I bought Bill Crider’s book because of his blog. My friend – No.

    Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them? Me – Not that I remember. My Friend – No.

    3. appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest? Me – Yes. My Friend – No.

    4. you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Yes for both of us.Where was it in the store? Me – almost anywhere. My Friend – usually center table.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that? Both of us – friends, of course. Me, sometimes a review.

    Reply
  53. Molly Weston

    1. Have you ever bought a book…because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    No.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Many times.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Many, many times. Mystery, literature, essay, or knitting section.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Store reviews, newspaper reviews, word of mouth recommendation, NPR mention.

    Reply
  54. Stacey Cochran

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    I would say that the trailer was part of the reason (albeit a minor part) of why I’ve bought several books. Was it ever the sole reason? Probably not because to see a trailer, I would have seen the author’s website, too, read about them on a blog, read reviewers’ comments in Amazon, seen them at a bookstore, etc. I just don’t know how I could separate the trailer (or any of these) from one another.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I met JA Konrath at the World Horror Convention in 2003 before his first novel was published. It didn’t register with me until I read a review that he had written of Victor Gischler’s GUN MONKEYS and saw that he was going to be at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale… I went to the event largely because of his review of Gischler’s book. And I bought Blood Mary.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Totally. Particularly when I lived in Arizona. I bought several books at author events that I simply would not have bought otherwise. I bought two copies of THE HARROWING when Alex did her first Quail Ridge Books event.

    So for me, it would seem that doing an author event is the best way to my wallet.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    I’m sure I have… but I can’t remember one that stands out to me. This underscores an important point for me as a consumer: I rarely buy someone’s book unless I’ve met them.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Now that I think about it, I’ve bought stuff at the airport for author’s who I haven’t met and didn’t really know. Usually, I’ve been disappointed though.

    It seems like if I know an author personally, I have much more of an investment in his/her work.

    Which underscores the power of marketing and a visible presence as far and wide as you can have… at least for me as a reader.

    Reply
  55. Jill

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I’ve found new to me authors through blogs and then visited their websites and bought books as a result. Neither My nor Face has gotten me to buy anything.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No, but I might if I happened to visit the store at the right time.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes. Usually the book isn’t on the front tables, it’s just in the stacks.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Personal recommendations.

    Reply
  56. Celine

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    …there are book trailers on the Internet?(IOW, no.)

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    No and yes.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    I don’t think so. I have wandered into bookstore presentations that just happened to be going on when I came in (that I hadn’t known about beforehand), but I don’t recall ever buying a book at one.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    This is one of my normal modes of finding new authors — the title catches my eye, the back-cover blurb and flyleaf snippet look interesting, I buy it. The book might be a featured item, or it might be on the shelves in an area I routinely browse (which is mostly SF and mystery).

    May I take a moment here to grump about the increasing tendency to substitute review quotes for back-cover blurbs and flyleaf snippets? I don’t CARE what six or twenty or fifty other people have said about the book; their tastes may not be congruent with mine. Give me a brief description and a sample of the text, and let me make my own decision! I have actually put books back on the shelf because all they had in the way of reader information was review quotes. If the book can’t sell itself on its own merits, the odds are good that I’m not going to like it. How many rave reviews have things like The DaVinci Crap and Twilight gotten?

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    The most common reason is word-of-mouth — someone whose opinion I trust recommended it to me. That someone could be a friend, or a bookseller who knows me and knows what I tend to buy.

    The second most common reason is… well, I have a mode of interaction with authors which is not available to the majority of readers: I meet them at conventions, and get to know them as people. Then sooner or later I tend to pick up one of their books just out of curiosity. But that’s the exact inverse of “buying a book by an author you’ve never heard of”.

    This is one argument in favor of authors having blogs — but only if they can write interesting things on their blogs as well as in their books! If you can write things that get other people to link to your blog posts, you may draw in people who will become regular readers, and who then may buy your books because they feel they’ve gotten to know you. John Scalzi would be a case in point, I think. But if you can’t write a decent short essay, blogging isn’t likely to do anything for you.

    I’ll pass this on to Russ and get him to write up his answers.

    Reply
  57. Barbara Fister

    I don’t have time to ask a friend or relative, so I’ll base my answers on a combination of what I learned from students in class I recently taught on books and culture and on my imagination.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    A … what? Is this like an RV or something? Or more like a semi-truck? Dude, I don’t know WHAT you’re talking about.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I heard about Stephanie Meyers from friends. You’re saying we could be Facebook friends?

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Bookstores? The only bookstores I’ve been in sell textbooks and if the author showed up I’d punch him in the nose for being too expensive AND boring.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    I don’t buy books much, cause I’m totally BROKE thanks to school and those $*%$& textbooks. Except for Stephanie Meyers. Like I couldn’t NOT buy that one. But an author I’ve never heard of – that’s textbooks, man. And I never want to hear about them ever again. Period.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    I wish you’d talk to my professor about this. Because I have no idea why he made us buy that $250 book because it wasn’t even on the TEST and when I tried to sell it back they wouldn’t buy it because there was a new edition coming out.

    I can’t wait until I get out of college so I’ll have time to read real books.

    Reply
  58. Jon Jordan

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No, and no one I know has either. I think it was an interesting idea that doesn’t sell books. certainly not enough to justify the cost. Unless it’s airing on television, which it won’t.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Never sought out books due to Myspace, blogs or websites

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes, quite few times actually

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, various bookstores, even the airport

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    recomendations form authors I like during an event or signing.

    Reply
  59. neil nyren

    I’ll answer as a reader rather than a publisher here.

    I buy books all the time while browsing in a store — a name or a cover or a quote will catch my eye, and I’ll pick it up and explore a little further. Someone earlier mentioned “word of mouth,” and to me that’s really the most important factor to selling books. Good reviews cause word of mouth, and they’ve often caused me to buy books from people I’d never heard of. Recommendations from friends or colleagues have led me to new authors. Hearing or reading something interesting in the media can cause me to pick up a book. That’s why you try so many things (oops, got my publisher hat back on again) — you just never know what’s going to tickle the back of someone’s brain when he or she’s standing in the store, staring at the tables and shelves.

    And just one note re websites. Several good reasons for websites have already been mentioned, and here’s another: If you gather the names of the people who visit your website, then you’ve got a ready-made base of people who have been at least interested enough to visit you. Then, as the publication date of your new book approaches, you can send out an email blast telling them all about it, and even providing links to order it. This can help your pre-sale and first-week sales considerably!

    Reply
  60. Robin of My Two Blessings

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No – I generally don’t watch trailers for books and they wouldn’t influence my decision.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Actually yes I have. I was looking up information on writing and came across First Offenders. I purchased Lori Armstrong’s first book and ended up reading all of them. Prior to that, I would never buy a book based on net presence. I always looked up information on authors I had already read. Some of the authors I read have group blogs, like this one. Which has lead me to working through and reading books by each of the authors.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes. We have a used bookstore next to our business – Book Lovers Cafe. He has new authors and local authors in for booksignings, etc. He’s the one who showcases Allison and Brenda Novak. I recently purchased The Take-us by John Takacs just because I wanted to support the new author and the book looked interesting.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, usually on endcaps.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Because the book bloggers were all talking it up about how great the books are. some I have liked, others not.

    Reply
  61. Charlotte

    OK, D…Just because I love you.I also called my mother, who I would call a casual reader, and asked the questions as well.

    Some facts:

    Me: Rarely read, spend an ungodly amount of time on the internet. Have many books I haven’t read or began and didn’t finish. I just love to own books but unfortunately, they are a luxury that we haven’t really been able to afford. I will purchase many of them from thrift stores or yard sales just because they are so cheap.

    Mom: I would call her a casual reader. She tends to go in spurts and reads more in the winter. She is on her computer during the day for work and so isn’t on much during her “free time”. She estimated about 2 hours per day.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Me: No. In fact, I didn’t even know there were trailers for books until this blog.

    Mom: Yes, maybe.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Me: Yes. I met you on MySpace and liked you so I decided to purchase your book, The Devil’s Right Hand. I don’t normally read this genre and don’t think I would have purchased it otherwise.

    Mom: No. She uses Alibris (I’ve never heard of it.)to purchase and browse and they recommend other books to her based on her previous purchases.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Me: No. But I’ve never happened to be in a bookstore when an author has been there but I’d be willing to bet I would be likely to purchase a book.

    Mom: No. She has never been in a store when the author was there either but she said the same thing…and I know her so she probably would purchase the book if she liked you. (And she would like you)

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Me: Yes. I don’t go to the store that often and usually I’m on a mission for a specific book or a book on a certain topic but I always browse when there. I’ve bought other books because they looked interesting. They were either located in the genre I’m normally interested in, or currently interested in.

    Mom: Yes. They were located in the genre she normally reads.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Me: Word of mouth. I have bought books featured on TV shows such as Oprah. I have also bought them because they were recommended reading from a book I was currently reading. And of course, simply because the jacket sold me while browsing.

    Mom: Browsing and jacket sold her or word of mouth. She said if she really enjoyed the author of a book she’s read, she’ll go buy all their books. (She has to like the subject matter and the way in which the author tells the story.)

    Reply
  62. pam

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    NO. Trailer’s actually bug me. I don’t like them, and don’t see the point. It’s a book, not a movie. All I care about are the words. The concept, and then the writing are what sell me, never a trailer…unless there’s also a movie coming out about the book. 🙂

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I have bought SO MANY books after hearing about them on blogs, then visiting the site, reading an excerpt and hopping to Amazon to place my oneclick order.

    The excerpt is always the key to the sale, once awareness has been established.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    So far, just once. I wandered into a Border’s at lunch and Steve Almond was reading from his book, My Life in Heavy Metal and it was hysterical. Picked up a copy, read a few pages, loved his writing and bought it.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, often. If their book is on a front table and the title or cover attracts my interest, I’ll pick it up, read the back blurb/inside flap and then the first few pages. If I like the voice/writing, I’ll buy it, regardless of whether it’s hardcover/mass/trade format.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    The writing.

    Reply
  63. Richard Robinson

    1. No (Internet trailer) Yes. (Review on Internet)

    2. No. After, if at all.

    3. Yes.

    4. Yes. Brick-and-mortar: in the genre section, possibly in “new” area. Internet: As a recommendation based on prior viewing and purchases.

    5. Yes. Reading an in-print review, in newspaper, magazine, third-party blog or in a genre-specific APA.

    Reply
  64. Catherine

    My other person answers are going to be on a big time delay because of time zones…but as it will come from a 25 year old devourer of books, (who actually buys books regularly)…it will probably be worth it..I hope.

    Had to laugh at Toni’s comment about being an excerpt whore, yeah well that’s my deflault position usually when purchasing books too. Murderati was the significant breaker of this habit sharing the author views on a disparate range of subjects has really influenced my buying habits.

    Oh and also every now and then, fellow readers on this blog will mention a book they are reading, and that helps me when I’m roaming any bookseller I enter. It concentrates my search quite a bit.

    For me one author that was unknown to me, that stood out as a discovery, was Tana French. The front facing cover drew me over in tractor beam precision.

    Reply
  65. Stacy McKitrick

    1. Never saw a trailer – ever!2. Yes, I check websites often. I’ve been looking for new authors and found several from this site. I check out the website to see if the books would interest me.3. Appearing in bookstore? I did this once. Technically I knew the person, but didn’t know she was a writer (I went to high school with her). I bought her book when I went to the signing. Since then I’ve read ALL her books. I recommend Meg Gardiner to everyone!4. Saw in store? Yes. I check out the mystery, fantasy, and romance sections.5. Other reasons? I’ve read books based on TV shows I’ve watched and enjoyed (Dexter & True Blood are the most recent). I also check out authors that recommend authors I do read (and vice versa).

    Reply
  66. Kat Richardson

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No. But I have recommended one trailer to people who were on the fence: the trailer for Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez vampire detective books. Because the /trailer/ is hilarious. It happens that the book is cool, too, but I figure the trailer is only the tipping point for people who were already thinking about it.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Yes I’ve bought a book based on an initial internet contact, but it was from a book site where the writer was being interviewed and having open discussion with fans and potential fans. Usually I only go to websites and blogs after I know the person’s work or have met them in person at a convention or similar event about books/writing.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No, but I’ve been on the receiving end of that.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Thousands of times. Most often it’s a book that’s lurking in the Mystery or SF section with its spine out and a good title. Sometimes it’s a book on the New Arrivals racks, faced out, or on a front table, but most frequently I’m just trolling the stacks until something jumps out and cries “me, me!”

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    I’ve bought books to support charitable causes and I’ve bought books at conferences after listening to someone speak in a compelling fashion about a subject I’m interested in. Once in a great while I’ve been guilted into buying a book, but that’s rare. I can’t afford guilt–it’s so pricey these days.

    I do have what I consider definitive proof that the internet push paradigm is bull: I have in my acquaintance an author whose website and blog each receive more than one-thousand hits a day. She’s a good writer, but she sells poorly and she just lost her publishing contract. Meanwhile I know an author who’s a top-5 NYT bestseller who rarely posts on her blog and another who doesn’t have a website or blog at all. I don’t blog much, I don’t Facebook or Myspace, but I sell decently while other writers with more talent and more online presence flag in the bookstores. I’m reasonably sure that the internet push means almost nothing unless your audience is principally under 30.

    Reply
  67. Lee Loffland

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No. I’m not fond of book trailers. Honestly, I prefer to see books marketed in other ways.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    No. I normally visit an author’s site or blog after I’ve met them, or after I’ve purchased/read their books. However, I have seen positive results from readers when authors guest blog on a site other than their own. Perhaps it’s less like a sales pitch. I know the response to authors on my blog has been overwhelming lately.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    No, but I have purchased books during writers conference after meeting the author.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Because they politely asked (begged) me to give their book a try.

    Reply
  68. Theo Lynne

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    -Until recently I’d never even heard of a book trailer. (Which is a no.) And I spent a ridiculous amount of my time online (and on YouTube)

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I’ve had this happen both ways. I started reading a book, found out the author was online, got into their net presence which in turn turned me on to other authors which I now read because of their blogs.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Once.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    This is how I buy most of my books. They are usually face out on shelves. Occasionally, I have picked up books on themed tables (like “Girl in the city” themes with a bunch of NYC Chic Lit)

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    I’ve bought books from author’s I’ve never heard of because I was in the mood for fantasy and they were shelved there, the book sounded good. Or I was looking for Steampunk and their blurp sounded good. Rarely do I buy books based on aggressive marketing strategies (book trailers, blogs, websites, signings, etc.)

    Reply
  69. Allison Brennan

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart because I think that authors spend too much on the WRONG kind of promotion.

    I’m not answering the questions because they’re all yes. I buy a lot of books. I buy for friends, my mom, me, my kids–I love books. I’m an addict. Cheaper than drugs at any rate . . .

    The thing is, you can’t point to any ONE THING as being the reason you may buy a book. SOMETIMES there’s one thing–for example, I bought Keith Ablow’s PSYCHOPATH years ago on a whim — I don’t remember where, probably a bookstore. I’d never heard of him, had no idea if I’d like it, but I liked the idea of a screwed up forensic psychiatrist as a protagonist. One of the best books I’ve read and I’ve read all his since. I wish he’d write more fiction, but he had a #1 NYT bestselling NF and I think he’s done with make-believe.

    The only thing I believe is proven to sell more books is word of mouth. So the big question is, how to you generate word of mouth? And that’s what’s different for everyone. You don’t know. You might THINK you never bought a book because you saw a trailer, but what if you saw the trailer, then saw the book at the airport but didn’t consciously remember seeing the trailer? You bought it because it “looked good.” Or “familiar” or thought you might have heard something somewhere about it. It may have been a trailer, a friend, a review (cough cough–not if you’re in mass market–cough cough), or even an ad in a magazine. That’s how all marketing works.

    I’ve done MJ Rose’s Author Buzz several times. At first, I thought it was a failure, but the more I do it, I get exponentially more hits to my website and more entries into my contest. It’s the long-term name-ID I’m looking for–if they see my name, see the cover(s), see books of mine in the catalog or on the shelf or in the supermarket . . . it’s all building a foundation.

    A website is not solely for potential readers to decide if they want to read your book–it’s primarily for a NEW reader to get your backlist. Why do I think that? Because the pages most hit on my site (in order)

    1) index page2) trailer3) books4) about (bio, Q&A, etc)

    After that are the individual books which have excerpts attached to them, but it goes way, way down. I can’t tell you how many people email me wanting my booklist (even though it’s on my website–I’m now making it a printable pdf because I get so many requests. yeah! backlist sales!)

    I do a trailer for most of my books not because I think it will sell books, but it gives my readers something to pass around (and they do.) And because THEY’RE sending it to friends, maybe their friend will pick it up when they see my book. Not because they saw the trailer per se, but the trailer gave their friend something to share with them rather than just, “Hey, have you read Allison Brennan? I think you’d like her books.” It’s another form of word of mouth.

    I don’t like contests, BTW, because most of the people who enter would have bought my book anyway. BUT I did start something new with my last author buzz and it worked out really well based on feedback I’ve gotten from readers. That is: enter and you get a backlist book of your choice. AND you can send a backlist book of your choice to friends. I usually do two friends. It gives me a way to reach potential readers. Expensive? A bit. Mailing, the books, etc. But the best way to gain new readers is getting them to read your books.

    Anyway, I’m long-winded today (because I’m stuck on my book.) Basically, I never look at promotion as a book thing, I look at it as an author thing–long-term career. My publisher needs to promote my book; I need to promote me. I don’t have the time or money to promote individual books to the extent that it will have an impact on sales.

    And my publisher has never asked me to do anything out of pocket for promotion. The only thing anyone over there ever asked was, “Are you going to put up a website?”

    Reply
  70. J.D. Rhoades

    My own answers:

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No. I rarely watch them at all, and then only to be polite when a friend says “hey, look at my cool trailer!”

    Although I must say, Toni’s trailer for the first Bobbie Faye book was pretty cool. But I’d already bought the book.

    More often than not, however, trailers annoy the hell out of me. Can you tell?

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I have bought books by authors I’d encountered on the Internet, usually as participants in discussion groups like rec.arts.mystery.

    Facebook? No, but I’ve bought books by authors I met on FB after meeting them in person.

    Author websites? No. Like most of you, I’ve checked out websites AFTER reading the book, to find out more about the author. That may have sold subsequent books by that author.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Never.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yep. Usually ones on the tables or facing out.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Other people whose taste is like mine recommended them. Occasionally a review will get me interested.

    You’ve given me a lot of data here. Keep it coming.

    Reply
  71. J.D. Rhoades

    “My publisher needs to promote my book; I need to promote me. I don’t have the time or money to promote individual books to the extent that it will have an impact on sales.”

    Now there’s some food for thought…I’ve always said that the best way to promote is not to go “buy my book, buy my book, buy my book” (like a lot of authors seem to be doing on Facebook with near-daily e-mails), but to be interesting.

    Reply
  72. Allison Brennan

    Just read Toni’s comments . . . and I can tell you that I think the trailer I did for THE PREY–at the end of 2005 before book trailers became popular–had a huge impact on my sell-ins. I launched it at the same time the sales kits went out and had feedback from the editor that it was a hit. People were talking about it online–always a good thing.

    Book trailers may be generational. My daughter who is a huge reader LOVES book trailers. She makes fan trailers for her favorite books. Her fan trailer for UNWIND has more hits on YouTube than my last book trailer! (and mine cost a lot more than . . . free.) YA readers today are my readers tomorrow.

    Reply
  73. Christine Cook

    The answers to questions 1-3 are unqualified nos. The fourth question is, I’ve sometimes gone to author signings because a friend begged me to, and I’ve ended up buying the book. What can I say? I figure I should pay it forward if I want people to come to my signing someday.

    As for the rest, I have bought books by authors I knew nothing about too many times to count. I am a bookstore browser, and it’s hard to say what will make me pick up the book and buy it, but I buy books almost everytime I enter (which is about once a week). Sometimes I’m enamored by the cover; sometimes the cover copy grabs me; sometimes I’ve heard something about the book on the radio or on television; sometimes a friend has recommended it to me.

    And I think the biggest key is in that last sentence. Nothing is better for the sale of a book than word of mouth adverstising.

    Reply
  74. Allison Brennan

    One more thing then I’ll shut up 🙂

    I just checked out my web stats. Every month I have a release, my unique hits shoot way, way up. They go back down the following month, but usually higher than the month before the release. Of my last three books, there was about a 20% increase in web traffic from book to book. It tapers off, but always is higher then next book release.

    Some authors don’t need websites and sell oodles of books (Linda Howard is one.) But for new authors, I think they’re essential.

    Reply
  75. J.D. Rhoades

    From my friend Annie:

    Dusty,Not sure why, but it would not let me post even after I joined Typepad… So, here’s my reply anyways.. Annie

    We’ve a rather huge book collection – his scifi mostly, mine mystery/crime fiction. Nowadays, we must buy all our books because we do not not have access to a public library (it’s a long story… but our village does not participate in the library tax). I collect signed 1st eds. too, UK and US titles. So that said..

    1. Book TrailersNO. I’ve seen a few and was not impressed nor persuaded one way or another.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?

    YES. Websites and blogs in particular. And if the book was recommended elsewhere, e.g. Sarah W’s blog, a recommendation from another reader, a positive review I read somewhere, well that’s good reinforcement.

    Generally, if an author’s not familiar or new on the scene, I do check for a website and/or blog to get more info about them and their work. (It’s most helpful if the back list is included on the website, in chrono order. I prefer reading series in order, if possible.)

    Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Sometimes. That’s something I do now, but usually it’s before I read the book, rather than after.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    NO. But I’ve bought books after seeing authors I didn’t know of before on panels at Bcon and elsewhere.

    All signings I go to are planned. I’ve never just walked in on one. I go to hear and meet a particular author and to buy their book.

    Just my observation, but we don’t seem to have as many signings here in the Chicago area as we used to a few years ago, unfortunately… and the ones that do take place are often not publicized enough. (I’ve attended some very small signings with some very well known authors…)

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting?

    YES, though not that often.

    Where was it in the store?

    Somewhere more prominent than just on the shelf with the spine facing out. (Can never actually see the titles of the ones on the lower shelves!It’s a bifocal lens thing.) I probably buy more books that are laid out on a table display rather than off the shelf, unless I’m looking for a specific author or title. (It’s not all that often that I buy books on impulse. I used to, but not so much now, maybe a Jane Austen or some classic I missed.. something like that..)

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Met author at conference/ or heard them on a panel and was impressed (happens frequently); recommendation from bookseller who is handselling (this has only happened in indie shops); reviews — usually publications/ reviewers/ other readers I trust (I participate in rec.arts.mystery group and read 4MA, when I’ve time); a blog recommendation.

    Reply
  76. Vince

    1. Trailers. No. I have never watched a book trailer to the end. Even when I’ve already read and liked the book. In part because I’ve yet to see a good one. Book trailers are an idea that makes sense on paper and nowhere else.

    2. Websites. Yes. Typically I find an author’s website after reading a book, but on occasion the order is reversed. If I come across an interesting blog post or a comment, I may give their books a whirl. Side note: I will look for an author’s site after I’ve liked a book by them, and if they don’t have one I consider it a strike against them. In this day and age it’s simple professionalism. The site doesn’t have to be dazzling or regularly updated. It just needs to have current information about the books.

    3. Signings. No. Shameful admission: I pay almost no attention to signings.

    4. New to me author’s book looked interesting. Plenty of times. In most cases the books are on display, frequently as a staff pick. More often than not it’s the cover that draws me in. I bought one of the finest novels I’ve read in the last few years, Jean-Claude Izzo’s TOTAL CHAOS, because the book itself from Europa Editions was simply a beautiful object.

    5. Other reasons. Good reviews. Personal recommendation.

    Reply
  77. Kelli Stanley

    Wow, Dusty, you raised a (pardon the expression) dust storm!

    For myself, the answers to most of your polling questions would be “no”–I’m on the internet so much out of necessity that I don’t use it at all as entertainment (well, OK, except for the occasional You Tube video and reading sleazy gossip about the Beckhams);). I have bought books from authors at appearances because I enjoyed their presentations … and I’ve purchased books at bookstores based on flap jacket copy and the first page or two of text.

    I do think websites are crucial tools, though–and I can site at least one very small, feeble example: I launched mine over a year before my book came out, and was contacted by a bookstore within a week because they wanted to order NOX for a customer who liked the site. That by itself convinced me to pay attention to websites.

    For the rest of it? I agree with your last point–I think the need to demonstrate our PR/Marketing abilities/commitment, etc. to our publishing and book-selling partners is probably the strongest factor in video, et al. development. It also gives us a chance to explore and expand our brands and provide readers with “extras” (like Easter Eggs on DVDS) that could feasibly help them decide on whether to stick with our second, third, and fourth books.

    And–maybe even most importantly–it gives us the illusion of control over an uncontrollable (and therefore frightening) process. At least for me that’s the case.

    Thanks for the brain stimulation!!

    Reply
  78. joylene

    You are so right. The only thing that has influenced my decision to buy a book is through networking. I got to know the author behind the book.

    But 9x out of 10, I choose a book due to word of mouth.

    Nice post. Rant on!

    Reply
  79. toni mcgee causey

    Thanks, Dusty. If I had it to do all over again, I’d cut that long one in half. 😉 We shot it and edited it, so we had a lot of fun, but trailers were fairly new. I had seen Allison’s, loved it, and thought it would help with the cross-genre issue.

    I’d be real curious as to how these stats compared across genres and age groups. I think Allison’s right about the younger generation.

    Reply
  80. Robin of My Two Blessings

    I asked my husband these questions and his answers are

    1) No2) No3) Yes, all the time. Hubby says ‘who cares who the author is, if it looks good, I buy it. (He has also purchased books for me because he thought I would be interested in them. He shoots for the genre that interests and its a catch 22.) He did buy me a great Mercedes Lackey book.4)Snorts – in the book department. On the shelves.5) No

    You asked!

    Hubby of Robin from My Two Blessings

    Reply
  81. JA Konrath

    Here’s the dealio, Emilio.

    Never before in the history of publishing has an author had the opportunity to reach as many fans as they do now.

    With the Internet, and personal appearances, and your promotional efforts, you have the chance to effect a greater percentage of your overall sales than any author who ever came before you.

    But ultimately the percentage you directly effect is a very small percentage.

    I do a lot of self-promo. By my count, I’ve handsold over 10,000 books.

    I’ve got a few hundred thousand books in print. So 10k is nothing.

    But (and it’s a big but) you and I had this discussion in my car. While I may be directly responsible for 10,000 sales, I’m probably indirectly responsible for many more than that.

    The problem is no one really knows what is effective and what isn’t. Every promotion has intangible effects.

    An author can’t compete with a huge print run and the resulting promotional push by a publisher.

    But an author can continue to market, promote, and establish a brand and name recognition.

    The more you do this, the more you sell.

    Whether it makes a difference in your bottom line is subjective. I do a lot, but I’m not a bestseller.

    And yet my books are (so far) still in print. Google me and you get a disproportionate number of hits. I get decent traffic on my website, and blog, and get speaking and interview requests all the time.

    I believe this is because of my efforts.

    Time will tell if it’s enough to sustain a career.

    To answer your question, I buy books from authors I’ve never heard of if I meet the author, the book is recommended to me, or if I learn about it and it seems like a book I’d like. Sometimes that’s through reviews, or browsing. It’s never through ads, or book trailers, or any sort of internet presence.

    But websites, blogs, and social networking sites have helped me learn more about books that I did wind up buying. They weren’t the instigating factor, but they did help sway me.

    Do you need an Internet presence? No.

    Will you sell more books if you have one? Yes.

    Reply
  82. NS Foster

    1. I’ve only ever even seen one book trailer, and that was because I was reading an article about book trailers, and I had no idea what the hell they were. Also, I don’t remember what book the trailer was for, anyway.

    2. After, always, if ever. Knowing all about an author can ruin the reading experience if you have too much of their personality and their opinions in your head while you’re reading.

    3. Nope, but that I might do.

    4. My favorite author, actually. Guy Gavriel Kay has a gorgeous cover for his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy… it’s a wraparound iridescent, mother of pearl dragon rising out of lake with a few characters surrounding it. It was so beautiful I bought it without caring what the book really contained and ended up finding my most beloved storyteller.

    5. See above.

    I firmly believe that 90% of new authors are picked up by word of mouth. Donald Maass goes into this moderate detail in his Breakout Novel text and I believe every word. I have a few friends who are steady readers and I don’t know a single one who uses the internet to monitor author presence in genre blogs or anything else electronic. The only reason I even check my own favorite’s websites are to see when their next books are coming out…

    Reply
  83. NS Foster

    “Obviously, there are more answers than I have time to respond to individually right now, but I will be tabulating up the numbers later and mulling them over. “

    I was going to add that I really hope there’s a followup post on some of this stuff… There is a huge contribution of opinions here; loving it.

    Reply
  84. MBaldacci

    I sent this in an e-mail, but Dusty asked me to post here.

    Dusty,

    I know this is directed at authors, but I want to weigh in. I realize authors do have publishers that force them to spend money and effort marketing their books, but not all publishers are the same.

    Ideally, the author and publisher will work together to agree on a plan. To the point at hand, I would never force an author to create a trailer – ugh. Maybe more to the point, I would never ask an author to spend money or time on a project that I (as the marketing director) did not feel was worthwhile. Of course there are grey areas here, but I feel terrible reading these comments about authors who are compelled to do something they don’t want to because their publisher can’t be bothered to come up with a good plan.

    Reply
  85. rgiraffe

    With 93 comments already (wow!) I feel like why bother – but it’s your survey…so I’ll respond.

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?NO2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MySpace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?I’ve researched authors I’d never heard of until I saw their blog – but if I’m interested I first see if the library has anything they’ve written – and go from there. If the library has some of their books AND I really like them, then I’ll buy books by that author going forward. I don’t have the cash to simply buy books by people I’ve never heard of simply because they have a catchy blog. I’m not sure even if I had the cash that I would, but it’s possible.3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?Kind of. Over Christmas I was in Nashville, Indiana (The Book Loft specifically) – lots of shops there – I saw a book of mystery stories related to Christmas and two of the authors had signed it – I hadn’t heard of any of them (and I wasn’t there when they signed it) – but I bought it anyway…to support the book store and mystery writers in general.4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?Not really – I buy books by authors I haven’t read but either are popular or I’ve had someone recommend them to me. The only time I’ll buy a book by someone I’ve never heard of is at the dollar store (and I always feel sorry for those authors – because who wants to end up in the dollar store??).5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?If I’ve done this it was only in one of those ways you do when you’re bored at breakfast and read the cereal boxes…if I am at an airport and have to wait I might grab a book by anyone at all simply to have something to read to pass the time. But I don’t fly too much anymore – and I get my unknown author fill at the library!

    Reply
  86. M.J. Rose

    Great post Dusty…

    I don’t know if its worth it being #94 but here goes.

    First – I’ve never ever met an author whose publisher asked them to pay for a trailer or who insisted that an author spend money to build am expensive website or demanded the authors spend money on any kind of marketing.

    Who does that?

    Second – I agree with everything Lee Child said.

    No one thing done one time will make any author a bestseller. Book after book, tour stop after tour, blog post after blog post, review after review… it all adds up and becomes meaningful after time. Exponentially so.

    Very few authors break out after three or four or even five or six book. It takes a long time, a lot of effort and hard work on the part of the author and the publisher and the fates to get there.

    What we can do as authors is just as much as we can and keep writing the best books we can.

    Yes, word of mouth – – recommendations sell more books than anything else – but the issue is and always will be – how do you get that first group of readers to try you without some kind of announcement/exposure/marketing/pr efforts.

    No one walks into a bookstore and says: “I’d like to read a book you never heard of and I never heard of.”

    What works? Nothing in isolation. Everything if it’s done well, often, over time, and is repeated.

    Book trailers are tough to do right… the best ones… the ones where there is evidence that they have influenced sales are the few that have gone viral and from what I’ve seen about 90% of them are the funny ones. I’ve done a few and don’t think they sold any books even the one that got 125,000 page views… in fact that one unsold the book because the when people saw and really understood what the book was about they decided it was too depressing to read.

    Websites are calling cards… you should have one but if you are doing it yourself you shouldn’t spend more than you want to on it. Websites are inreach – meaning someone has to know about you to go there.. They are great for all the reasons mentioned but mostly for backlist sales. I have gone to them tons of times after reading something by an author I’ve never read before to find out more about him/her and more about what he or she has written… Authors fascinate me and when I fall in love with one I’ve never read before I do spend a lot of time at an author’s site.

    Blogging – its not for everyone but it is exposure and the more exposure you get in as many ways as possible the more people hear/see your name and like Lee said, the greater the chance that one day seeing your name on the cover in a book store a light will go off and a new reader will pick you up.

    Can you do everything you need to do on the net to reach all readers? Of course not, there are tons of people who don’t surf and won’t find you that way… but the net is the only affordable way for most of us to market and more and more there are more and more people on line.

    Reply
  87. toni mcgee causey

    After reading Matt’s comment, I wanted to make it crystal clear (since I am one of the ones talking about having done a trailer) that SMP had no clue I was doing one ’til I handed it to them. 😉 I had a film background, and resources (for free), so it was something I wanted to do for the fun of it. It worked out to be useful, I think, but it was just lagniappe–something I happened to do that happened to work out.

    Reply
  88. M.J. Rose

    And I forgot to mention that no, I’ve never bought a book via a trailer… I don’t like them much myself… I’d rather read an excerpt and I’ve stopped doing them for my books.

    I buy tons of book because I meet the authors at events or they hire my company for marketing purposes- I’d say about half my reading from those two groups.

    Next comes personal recommendations as well as reading blog posts about books or posts by authors and I’ve found quite a few books via website ads and blog ads (in fact it was finding a great book via a blog ad in 2004 that made me start doing blog ads and reading reviews on line.)

    I almost never buy books just for their covers any more when I see them in the store… I used to but that was pre the net and now there are better ways to pick books.

    Reply
  89. Allison Brennan

    At #94 on this post, MJ, but always with #1 advice. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you over the last few years and adapted it to fit my personality and limitations.

    My publisher has never asked me to spend a dime on any promotion. They have paid for me to go on the Levy Bus Tour and a few other things, and every little bit helps (I hope.) I don’t do a lot of signings–they aren’t really my thing and being in mass market it’s (IMO) a waste of time. But I have done a few and some were very successful and some were . . . not. 🙂

    I have given away over 1,000 books at my expense and that has been, I believe, the best use of my money. I’d give away more if I could. I’ve never understood authors being stingy with books. But ultimately, if my publisher hadn’t distributed my books widely, nothing I could have done would have helped. I’m a writer first and last. If I don’t write another book as good or better than the last, I’m toast. Maybe not after one bad book, but over time. Being a nice person, or blogging, or giving motivational speeches to writers groups, or even giving away books, won’t change that. The writing has to come first, and if it doesn’t you don’t love it enough.

    Reply
  90. Ali

    You raise some good points as the response reads –

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Yes, but only twice

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Nope, but if I ‘discover’ an author then I will find their web presence

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes, many times

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes, many many times

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    For [a] Reviews [b] word of mouth from someone I respect [c] from blurbs [d] from the cover – But most importantly – [e] From the synopsis on the back

    Best

    Ali

    and cheer up, the world is dark enough

    Reply
  91. Catherine

    Still need to get a reply from my daughter re:all this, but have realised for myself beyond the scope of the questions asked…that my book buying habits are a bit how I chose perfume, or food, or music. It’s influenced by my mood at the time, the amount of time I have to spend searching, whether the visual sense is top dog for the day, or whether the trickle down effect of different marketing combines into a purchase.

    Reply
  92. RubyAlison

    1. No, I don’t really watch trailers on the internet.

    2. Yes, a few times. This happened because I was looking at a blog for an author I already liked and read and ended up clicking a link they had to an author they like and/or are friends with. Then based on what I saw on that author’s blog, I’ve occasionally bought one of their books.

    3. Once or twice but not more because I don’t hang out in bookstores often enough to catch them reading.

    4. Many times because I often browse and go with something that catches me eye. Books on display tables I’m most apt to see, but I browse randomly just through the shelves too.

    5. Yes, if recommended or I happen to read something about a book online that I don’t know but sounds interesting.

    Reply
  93. Kate

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    I’ve never seen a book trailer on the internet. Really.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Ed Lynskey tried to friend me on Facebook and I’ve never heard of him, but I thought I’d get one of his books from the library before I marked him as a friend or spent money.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Lots of times. Damn, I miss working in a bookstore.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Lee Child’s books. They were on the shelf and they had shiny covers. Seriously.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    It might be because someone recommended it, or because an author I read mentioned it in a book or on a forum we share. I started reading Tess Gerritsen’s books (just finished Keepsake, damn fine work) because JD Rhoades mentioned her on Facebook. I started reading Donald Westlake (RIP) because Spider Robinson mentioned them in a book.

    Reply
  94. Patricia VanDyke

    1. Internet Trailer-Yes, but it was an author I had read before & would have bought anyway.

    2. AFTER. I look for an author after I read them because I want to read more of their work and find out how many books they have written.

    3. No. I feel always check them out, but I never came across one I was interested in. It’s always a book on some subject I don’t care for.

    4. Yes. LOCATION MATTERS.

    5. Yes. I read websites of authors I love. If Stephen King says he likes a writer, I will read something of his to see if I agree. I have rarely regretted it. On the subject of websites – I do enjoy visiting them, but don’t always do so. I certainly do NOT expect an author to have one. BTW I am a writer myself, and I find all of the info on your site very helpful as I work on my first novel.

    Reply
  95. Keith Cronin

    No to everything except 4 and 5. If a book catches my eye in a bookstore, I’m game to skim a couple of pages, and have bought many books that way as a result.

    And for #5, I have to say Amazon has been a big influence on my book buying. Between user-posted reviews and their “if you liked that, you might like this” feature, I’ve made many unplanned purchases!

    Reply
  96. Jon Clinch

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    A: Nope. I cannot figure out the whole book trailer idea. Excerpt, yes. Trailer, no.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?

    A: Nope.

    Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    A: Very few of the authors I read actually maintain web sites, and most of those seem pretty halfhearted. That should tell me something.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    A: Not often.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    A: Now THIS I do all the time. And I’m more likely to find stuff back in the stacks than on a front table. But that’s just me.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    A: Reviews, recommendations from friends, recommendations from knowledgeable booksellers.

    Reply
  97. Debi Watson

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?– Yes, Alex Kava’s first book. Trailer’s were new at the time, it was eerie. Went to the store specifically to find the book and read the first chapter. I was hooked and continue with the series to date.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them? –Yes if you’re counting Good reads and DL based on reviews by other readers.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?–Yes. The author was funny, or entertaining when they spoke and I picked up their book, hoping their presentation translated into their writing.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store? Yes–I’m a voracious reader. Especially if it’s on shelf with a book tag and a short review. If you like JD then you should read this.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that? Yes, this especially happens at conferences. Again I’ve liked their oral presentation and hope this carries over into their written work.

    Reply
  98. Anthony S. Policastro

    I feel your pain in this dilemma. There are really two answers to all of your questions.The content is what sells not the hype. But you have to get the word out or you will never know if your content is what sparks an inferno of excitement.

    The DaVinci Code took off because the publisher got the word out through reviewers, the media, the book distribution networks.

    Another book that I personally know of is Jill Bolte Taylor’s STROKE OF INSIGHT. She first self-published the book on Lulu.com. Her modest sales consisted of friends, relatives, and colleagues. Shortly after that she placed a video on YouTube of herself taped at the TED conference where she spoke about the debilitating stroke and how she regained all of her facilities. Within the first hour of her posting the video she sold 250 books. It snowballed after that and Viking Adult eventually bought her book. She was on Oprah and other talk shows and her book is currently number 187 on Amazon. You see the appeal of her book is the content. She is a brain scientist and wrote what it was like to have a stroke and how she overcame it.

    The YouTube video ignited the inferno, but the content keep the fire burning.

    Reply
  99. Anthony S. Policastro

    I feel your pain in this dilemma. There are really two answers to all of your questions.The content is what sells not the hype. But you have to get the word out or you will never know if your content is what sparks an inferno of excitement.

    The DaVinci Code took off because the publisher got the word out through reviewers, the media, the book distribution networks.

    Another book that I personally know of is Jill Bolte Taylor’s STROKE OF INSIGHT. She first self-published the book on Lulu.com. Her modest sales consisted of friends, relatives, and colleagues. Shortly after that she placed a video on YouTube of herself taped at the TED conference where she spoke about the debilitating stroke and how she regained all of her facilities. Within the first hour of her posting the video she sold 250 books. It snowballed after that and Viking Adult eventually bought her book. She was on Oprah and other talk shows and her book is currently number 187 on Amazon.

    You see the appeal of her book is the content. She is a brain scientist and wrote what it was like to have a stroke and how she overcame it.

    The YouTube video ignited the inferno, but the content keep the fire burning.

    Reply
  100. Joe

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    Nope. Book trailers still strike me as an unlikely outreach for writers and publishers. If a publisher can’t persuade me to read a book with cover copy and/or an excerpt, then I probably don’t need to read it. It’s like a grocer showing me an apple and saying, “You’ll really enjoy our oranges.” Sure. Thanks.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page? Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    I dig up info on an author after I read their book—if I enjoy the book. Specifically, I look for other books in the same line, and background on what sparked the idea. It’s interesting to look for the seeds that grew into the novel you enjoyed.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Once. Never again. I usually avoid these folks, because I don’t like to say, “This thing you’ve spent a year of your life working on, that you feel passionately about, that you cursed and fought and wept over, yeah, it just doesn’t interest me…” Maybe they don’t mind, but I feel bad.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Absolutely. I’ve found some excellent material by trolling the shelves. Typically, I go to the section I’ve a taste for, be it mystery, sci-fi, YA, whatever. I virtually never make an impulse buy from a book dump or front-of-store or center aisle display. It has happened, but it’s rare.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Some of my favorite authors I’ve discovered via panels at conventions. They’ve said things that resonated, and I felt compelled to find their books.

    Reply
  101. Vicki Hinze

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    No.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?

    No.

    Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Yes, and I have kept track of new releases via websites on new-to-me authors.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    Yes, I have. Many times.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    Yes. Section shelves, endcaps, center racks and near the register. I browse and buy often.

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Recommendations by other readers and by booksellers.

    It’s a totally unscientific survey, of course, but I’m interested in the replies.

    Reply
  102. barbarakitten

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet?

    no…I generally don’t watch trailers. Spoils my mental visuals.

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them?

    Sometimes…I generally find these authors because someone I know recommended them or I saw them mentioned in someone else’s blog.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest?

    I don’t usually go to see authors at bookstores unless I am familiar with them in the first place (not fond of crowds).

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store?

    hell, yes

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that?

    Do I really need a reasons. I buy books that look/sound interesting, I buy books other people recommend, I’m gonna download a book because I met an author who knows Dusty…I buy books because they are there. (And I love ebooks)

    Live Journal, blogs and social networking sites are great, because I can follow links from people I know to people I don’t know and eventually find stuff that is interesting.

    I like reading author’s blogs, whether I was reading the blog before I ever read the author’s work or whether I found the author’s net presence because I enjoyed a book s/he wrote.

    The only bad thing I can see about authors spending time on Live Journal or Facebook or whatever is that they should be WRITING instead, darn it.

    Reply
  103. Toni Kelner

    One further thought about the value of a web site or FaceBook presence. I think the biggest thing it does is to take a reader and turning her into a Fan. A reader picks up a particular author’s books if she’s in the store and sees one, maybe. A Fan puts an author’s release dates on her calendar, and face fronts all the copies in the store. She buys everything the author has done, including anthologies in which the author appears, and buys more copies for Christmas presents.

    Readers are wonderful–Fans are golden.

    Reply
  104. Christine Carey

    1. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw the trailer for it on the Internet? No

    2. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of based on their website, blog, or MyFace page?Or did you more often find the author’s ‘net presence AFTER you read them? I have bought books after reading random author blogs. Sorry – this one does work and it’s probably the most time consuming.

    3. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because they were appearing in a bookstore and they caught your interest? No – I’ve never been to a signing that I didn’t know about well beforehand.

    4. Have you ever bought a book by an author who you’d never heard of because you saw it in the store and it looked interesting? Where was it in the store? All the time. The book could be anywhere – genre, front table, sitting on the floor…

    5. If you’ve ever bought a book from an author who you’d never heard of for any other reason, why was that? The cover caught my eye, the blurb held my attention, and it passed the “I like this random page” test.

    Reply
  105. I. J. Parker

    Scrolling through that was a pain. I’ll make this short: I’m a heretic, too. I buy books after browsing in the library or chatting with authors on the internet.

    The trailer business would be reasonable if said trailer would be put on national TV for an ad. — to be paid for by the publisher. Otherwise, forget it. It doesn’t work.

    Reply

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