What prompts you to buy an ebook?

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Being that I am most likely going to be self publishing some of my work, I’m curious as to what draws a reader to a specific ebook.

Is it recommendations from others? Flipping through Goodreads or posts by book bloggers? Personally, recommendations hold a lot of weight for me. Especially when I know the person enjoys similar books as I do.

How much do the covers fit into your decision? When I browse in a store, it’s definitely the jacket/cover that catch my eye and make me want to pick it up. With cover images for ebooks being a thumbnail, they definitely don’t catch my attention as much. If I do click on it and find that the cover art is obviously not professional, I admit it could turn me off. (yeah yeah I know, don’t judge a book by its cover)

What about price? With so many people self publishing these days, there are tons of books out there ranging between $0.99 cents and $3.99. Are you willing to take a chance on those more unknown authors because of the cost or do you see $0.99 cents and automatically think “Oh…self published, I bet it hasn’t been edited and isn’t any good”? Be honest now. I won’t get mad. I’m just honestly curious as to what goes through people’s heads. Since we’re being honest, I’ll say that the $0.99 cent ones will give me pause, especially if there are no reviews accompanying it. If the synopsis is intriguing enough, I’ll pick it up. After all, even though I’ve gotten some “bad” books for a buck, I haven’t gotten anything totally awful and it helps me look for things not to do in my own work.

Is it the self promotion that piques your interest? Reading an excerpt on a blog or seeing the author tweet about it? Does it annoy you to see someone tweet constantly about their books for sale? How much is too much? If the author is running contests for a free copy or swag, will that prompt you to check it out even if you don’t win?

So faithful readers and fellow writers, educate me. What makes you stop and hit that 1-click button or whatever you use to purchase your ebooks? Have I missed something here? What will draw you to my work when it’s available?

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16 responses »

  1. I do have some thoughts (and knew you would write an awesome blog today!). I shy away from free and .99 because I feel the author doesn't value their work, this may be unfair though. I do like free short stories however and see the value in offering a sampling of your work to would be buyers of novels. Word of mouth is huge for me. I've been fooled by nice covers from all types of publishers. It's mostly the description and the sample I go for now. But how do I find the indies? They have to pop up on my radar and annoying twitter posts don't do it. Tweeting a few times about a new book is fine with me, but not every day, multiple times a day.

  2. It annoys me to no end to see people shoving their book down my throat. That's why you have a blog and/or website. If there's a special price or sale or mention about your book? Sure. Talk it up. It's when it becomes the ONLY thing you talk about? I, personally, get annoyed and am less likely to pick it up out of spite.

    I will only purchase an ebook after I've read a sampling of their work. I've picked up some self published ebooks that have been so poorly written and edited that I couldn't get through them, without wanting to mark it up with a pen. I understand how hard the business is, but if you want readers to purchase and enjoy your work, the least you can do is respect the reader enough to have it edited. Properly.

    Uh, I know there were more questions, but I think I've ranted enough. πŸ™‚

  3. Ahh I knew I could count on you lovely folks to come through with comments! Thanks!

    As far as the 99 cent and free thing go, one thing to remember is that sometimes, Amazon itself will put the books on “sale” for that cost for a limited time. They just did it recently with many traditionally published ebooks. I was surprised to see some of Simone Elkeles books for that price (loooove her stuff).

    I also agree with you folks about over tweeting your product. Yes I understand the need to get it out there & into people's view, but when it's all you talk about, that becomes the issue.

    Thanks again folks! Interested to see what others have to say as well.

  4. Oh, about the price! I am a huge fan of having the first book in a series for free or $.99 for a while, it gets people interested. And I won't buy an ebook of an author I don't know for more than a few dollars. I have plenty of beloved authors and I know my $7 would not go to waste. And I'm a reluctant ebook reader. I prefer tree books, so I like the option of both.

    Ok, for real now…

  5. I prefer paperback to ebooks, but usually it's a mixture of cover/blurb that gets me to buy a book. However, with ebooks, particularly self-published ones, it's word of mouth that gets me to glance at them in the first place.

    For shorter stories / novellas, I'll happily pay $0.99. But I'm always reluctant about buying a full-length novel for that price. $2.99 seems much more reasonable.

    As for promotion, I think the best way is to get people interested BEFORE you publish. Organise blog tours and events to raise awareness and get those first sales. That way there's people to rate, review and spread the word on your book. After that there's nothing wrong with ocassionally tweeting your book, just as long as it's not all the damn time.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion.

  6. I never read a book until I read on an ebook reader. I think the always having to lug a book around, or awkwardly holding it in bed was the culprit. Since last July on a cruise, I couldn't put down my ereader (sony, but now kindle 3).

    The big 5 publishers are extremely greedy and are now charging more for the ebook than the agency price amazon or costco charges. Now the question is, do I pay more for the convenience?

    I think it is time to start looking at small time authors because $12.99 for a book is now reserved for special occasions.

  7. Well Haim..when it comes to traditionally published books, there's a lot more that goes into it/overhead hence the higher pricing. Where it works in your favor is for the hardcovers that just come out. The ebook is often half the price of the hardcover. I agree some of the paperbacks need to come down in price, but we don't know how much it cost to publish the book in the first place.

  8. Covers will always draw my attention first, it doesn't matter if I'm looking in a bookstore or on amazon at thumbnails. A good one always makes me click. But so do bad ones (mostly because I want a closer look at the cover so I can go o.O but I usually read the blurb too to see if it's any better or just as bad.) I do check out books on recommendations but it still depends on cover, blurb and first page if I pick it up. If those three don't blow me away, I don't read.

    As for pricing, if it's 99c I will take a chance on it even if it has a horrible cover. What's a buck, ya know? Even $2.99 isn't that big of a loss compared to $12.99 and up. Plus the sting of a bad traditionally published book feels worse because I know there's a team of people behind that book so I'm expecting quality. With self-pub I know it's just the author (hopefully) doing the best he/she can with what resources are available and affordable.

    I'm also w/ Daniel on promotion before the book is released. That's what I'm trying to do (which leads to fear of what if my story doesn't live up to the hype I'm creating??) It's up to the author (both trad and self) to get the word out and a smart business move (since that's how this needs to be viewed as) is to get the word out early.

  9. My eye is drawn to covers as well. Whether I am in the bookstore or online. That said, I have a few favorite reviewers at Goodreads that have similar tastes to mine and I trust their recommendations.

    Word of mouth is huge mileage in my world. But, I get rather annoyed at twitter blasting a book promotion to death.

    That said, I think pre-promotion is the best an author can do to create hype. I've been blogging, using twitter, goodreads, and facebook to connect with readers. And I am posting the first five chapters of my new book on my website for freebie reads. My book comes out next month so, I am stirring interest. Also, I am attending GayRomLit as an author in October when my second book is set to release. So, I am using that promotional vehicle as well.

    I personally love ebooks. I got an iPad for xmas and have been completed addicted to ebooks since then. Kind of surprised me.

    Wow.. I went on a bit there.

  10. I'm glad to see covers still catch eyes! I think having a good cover is important.

    I'm glad to see pre-promoting is a big deal as well. I'm going to be looking for some book bloggers and maybe running a contest. We'll see what else pops into my head. Thanks folks!

  11. I absolutely like a great cover on an eBook, but more important is definitely the price.

    I'm more likely to take a chance on an indie author at $0.99 to $3.99 than I am even to buy a well-known (and beloved) author at $9.99-$14.99 for an eBook (and for the record, I'm generally hard pressed to pay more than $9.99 for a paperback, but when I see the eBook selling for more than the paperback – or even the hardcover – I absolutely *REFUSE* to buy it).

    I scour Amazon's discounted books often (at least a few times a week) to see what's 'free' (for a limited time) and what's discounted to under $5 (that's usually my cut-off). If I see something that has a good cover, a really intriguing synopsis, and some good reviews, I'll generally pick it up. I'll almost certainly pick it up if its an author I've read once or twice before and liked, but I'm all for taking a chance on a “new” (to me) author – as long as they're not priced out of the ballpark.

    I definitely *don't* buy a book if I've read the author before and there were typos or typsetting issues. Nothing I hate more than being distracted by those things. Details really *do* sell me on an author – even stuff like that can make or break it for me.

    Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  12. With e-books, I think price is far more important than anything else. With so many options at my finger-tips, I'm far more likely to not purchase an e-book and search for another similar one if the price is too high. For a new author, one that I haven't read before, I would probably go up to $2.99. I tend to look for e-book singles, just a short taste of what the author writes like. After price, it's about the plot. I tend to know what type of characters I like and dislike, types of plots that peak my interest. This, of course, can't be changed by an author, you write what you write. If there are rave reviews, however, of people who had similar thoughts as mine, I tend to give it a second glance. Interesting post, definitely something to be curious about for self-publishers out there!

  13. When I go onto Amazon I don't want to spend a lot of money because I can't afford it. I just purchased and downloaded 2 titles for .99 cents because they were of the genre I am currently interested in. The “Review” was interesting and they had accumulated more than a few glowing reviews from readers. Some of the reviews did have spoilers which was “nice” and that's basically what tipped the scales into deciding to purchasing them.
    Both titles ARE the first of a series and/or tilogy. Will I buy the rest of the series? I am not sure yet. After I read these books I'll make up my mind if I want to continue reading the series.

    In the past however, yes I will pick up more parts of a series. If the first book I read is well written, I like the characters, and if those characters make an appearence in the next book of the series. I like books that are intertwined like that. It's not mandatory, but I do like continuality.

    So for me, personally, it's price, Editorial Reviews/Product Desciption, and customer reviews.

  14. Ahhh so you're OK with books in a “universe” of sorts rather than a specific sequel? Good to know as I may be doing a companion novel to my book that will be coming out in fall. It will take place when the characters are in college and the main focus will change to one of the more minor characters from the first book, but everyone will make an appearance at some point.

    If you've ever read the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr she makes all the odd #ed books of the series about the main plot line and characters while the even #ed books are an off shoot of sorts on a more minor character's part in the bigger picture. Very cool the way it was done.

    Thanks for your input!

  15. in response to Beth-Ann, i totally get what she's saying about an e-book being more expensive than a hardback. Amazon put bestselling author Jim Butcher's newest book (released today) on sale for cheaper in hardback than the e-book edition. It was $14.71 for the hardback, with free shipping. The Kindle version was $14.99 … there's no way I'm buying the e-book for more money than the hardback.

    if i know an indie author (like you), i'll buy a book to help support the author, even if it's out of my genre. covers do need to be eye-catching, but if it's something i am really intrigued by, the cover rarely matters to me. i'm more concerned with what's between the covers.

    anyway, i've prattled on long enough. and if anyone wants to buy my own self-pubbed novel, you can look up my name and “Prodigal” on Amazon. πŸ˜€

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