I was recently contacted by a big fan of my Waverly Bryson series who is also a freelance writer. She asked if she could do a guest post for my blog, so I suggested she offer some insight into how she chooses which books to read. So here you have it, folks: marketing advice straight the source—a potential customer!
Waverly Bryson belongs to a long list of leading ladies I’ve rooted for in my years as a romance reader. Since I picked up Bridget Jones’s Diary years ago, I’ve been hooked on slow burns, meet-cutes, and feisty, flawed heroines who wobble and waver on their way to love. I’m a pretty omnivorous reader, with pulpy thrillers and Pulitzer winners alike jostling for space on my bookshelf. And when it comes to romance, I’ve devoured stories featuring mermen, Highlanders, and everyone in between. Still, smart and funny contemporary romcoms will always have a special place in my heart.
Here’s how I tend to discover the books I’ve loved and told all my friends about:
I discovered Maria’s Waverly Bryson books in a slightly roundabout way: I stumbled on a review of the series’ second installment on a book blog. The review was enticing enough to make me seek out the prequel, so I could read the series properly from the beginning. Did I end up getting a few spoilers in the process? Sure. But Waverly was so witty and relatable I ended up breezing through book one — even though I (kind of) already knew how it ended.
I also read reviews in prestige publications — venues like the New Yorker and Los Angeles Review of Books that can be counted on to cover mainstream releases. But because I read a lot of genre fiction and indie titles, I find myself turning to book blogs again and again. Not only do they offer better coverage of niche releases, I appreciate their air of coziness and authenticity.
These smaller blogs tend to be run by ordinary book lovers I can relate to, with day jobs outside the realm of media. I love the glimpses into their lives and personalities that emerge in their reviews. And when I’ve followed a blogger for a long time, seeing their literary tastes evolve over the years makes me trust them all the more.
All readers love a good deal on books, right? I’m no exception. And like most of my fellow book-hoarders. I don’t sit around waiting for my favorite authors to put their work up for sale — I use price promotions as a discovery engine. Irresistible discounts get me to take chances on authors who weren’t on my radar before. If I like what I see, I’m happy to pay sticker price on their next book.
Of course, if you’re a traditionally published author, you can’t just decide to run a price promotion on your own backlist: your publisher has to make the call. Self-publishers, though, can discount their books all you like, making them easier for readers like me to find.
My go-to places to hunt for book deals are BookBub and Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals. On both sites, I’ve found plenty of contemporary romance reads for $0.99 — or even free. While I don’t always love everything I find this way, I have added quite a few authors to my roster of favorites based on an irresistible deal.
Of course, I don’t get all my book recommendations from the internet. In fact, my to-read pile tends to be cobbled together mostly based on what my friends and colleagues have been devouring and discussing.
Like I mentioned before, I can’t help but talk about the books that make me laugh or think. Fortunately, my favorite people tend to be the same way. Otherwise, I’m sure they’d all start feigning busyness as soon as I try to start a conversation.
For bookworms like us, there’s nothing more satisfying than chatting about a book you loved with a group of people you like — overanalyzing intricate details, gossiping about the characters as if you know them, speculating on what happens after the happily-ever-after.
If my friends and I are any indication, the best way to get people reading your books is just to write something they can’t stop talking about. Rank-and-file readers might not be as influential as Reese’s Book Club or as buzzy as, well, BuzzFeed. But once we get hooked on your books, we’ll support you for the rest of your writing life — and drag as many friends along for the ride as we can.
As a freelancer who covers the publishing industry, I’ve done some writing about book marketing. But that doesn’t mean I’m immune to it myself! As a reader, I like encountering new titles to round out my bookshelf. As long as you’ve written something wonderful, publicizing your books well isn’t just a savvy career move — it’s also a service for readers like me. The key, I think, is giving your promotional efforts that personal touch — and writing books that live up to the hype, of course!
Thanks so much to Desiree for her valuable insight! She has also written posts on book marketing and the publishing industry for Reedsy if you’d like to check them out. To contact her directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.