Friday, April 30, 2010

What makes you buy a book? Part 2

Thanks so much to all of you who participated in my poll! As I said in my last post, as I work to promote Blood Ransom, primarily on the web, I am trying to see what types of promotion works the best. So that brought me to ask the question, what is it that catches our eye as a reader so we're willing to buy that one book out of the thousands that are for sale out there.

*Out of the thirty-eight people who voted, twenty-eight said that it was the author that compelled them to buy a book.

*Second, at twenty-six votes, was the back cover blurb.

*Coming in at a close third, with twenty votes, was word of mouth.

*The other significant vote was the cover art at 15 votes. It's worth mentioning as well, that online/newspaper reviews was next in line with 10 votes, which ties in closely with word of mouth.

Where we live, the nearest bookstore is several hundred miles away and the mail isn't reliable enough to have things sent to us, so when I do have a chance to buy books (often when we are back in the States with limited luggage), I have to choose carefully. For me, I definitely agree with the top three choices, though the back cover blurb and word of mouth/online reviews are probably even more important to me than the author. There are some authors that I like to read all their books, but I'm also always interested in finding a new voice in my favorite genres.

What about you? Were you surprised with the answers or did you agree with them? Let me know what you think!


Lisa Harris is an award-winning author of twenty novels and novellas. She lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries. When she’s not busy writing or home schooling, she loves traveling, cooking different ethnic foods, and going on game drives through the African bush.

Visit her website or her blog for information on Blood Ransom--that releases this month, and all her books.


  1. Hi Lisa

    I agree with all your answers.

    It all depends- I do look for books written by my favorite authors, but will also often buy a book reviewed in glowing terms online by someone whose opinion I respect like Susan Meissner ( )

    If I'm browsing in a bookshop I'll buy a book by an unknown author if the back cover blurb and cover art appeal to me.

    And word of mouth- I've bought several books on this type of recommendation.

    Two other things that are important to me are the font (smallish but easy to read) and the length of the book- I like something that I can really get my teeth into.
    God bless
    Ruth Ann

  2. Having just come to the end of 11 months' work around two book proposals, I have to say I find it significant that no one bought the book because of the proposal! No one looked for the book because of a book signing (which I can't do in the USA as it takes a bit long to get to the shops). (Okay, I'm sure if you are in the shops and the writer is signing, that would be an influence.) But generally, we buy books because we know something about them, whether it's the author we know, or a friend's word, or even what we read on the back page. Interesting - and encouraging.

  3. I'm not surprised by the results of your poll, although I would personally place setting higher on the list. Also cover art. When browsing a book store, it's the cover that makes me pick up the book. I'll decide to buy based on the back blurb and skimming the first few pages.
    Interesting that all the things writers obsess over -- trailer, book signings, endorsements -- rank so low on the scale :)

    1. I, too, rank setting high--a place I have been in the flesh or vicariously in a book I loved. But I don't let cover art sway me. I've seen too many books where more thought was put into the cover than the writing. The blurb and author's reputation, whether by word of mouth or reviews, are what sways me.

  4. Lisa, thanks for sharing your insights on your poll results :-) I'm not surprised by the results. I also buy a lot of books online and I look for authors I know or have heard great things about, and I read the back cover blurb and sometimes Chapter One before making my purchasing decision.

  5. I too have been following this survey and not really surprised by the result. However, I have to confess wondering if those who voted were mainly other authors or readers. Those of us who write are also avid readers and members of writers' groups. I for one choose mainly other authors I "know" from these involvements. Are not book trailers, book signings etc, etc all parts of getting to "know" authors we choose to read?