Joe Konrath's Great eBook Experiment

Joe Konrath not only has a really cool marketing experiment going on, but he also puts forth some good ideas about marketing books.

The one that most caught my attention was this:

For years, I’ve been wondering why publishers waste money on full page ads in the New York Times, featuring a picture of the book cover and a bunch of blurbs, when a much more effective ad would be a full page excerpt from the novel.

It seems that even the back cover of a book would be more effective. Sure, it’s great that people give blurbs, but honestly, I often feel like these are reciprocal back-scratching sorts of moves rather than real opinions. And they don’t really tell you what the book is about. The first thing I read when looking at a book on Amazon is the description. Then, if it sounds good, I’ll check a review that rated it highly as well as a review that rated it low. Most of the books on Amazon don’t have an excerpt available yet, or I would consider going to that as a second option (or definitely as a third option if my quick review of the reviews kept me interested).

In terms of Konrath’s experiment of putting other people’s excerpts into his books, it sounds like something I’d be interested in. I usually don’t read the excerpts if their from the same author because either I liked the book enough that I plan to read the book from which the excerpt comes anyway, or I didn’t like it enough to feel like reading an excerpt would make me want to read the next book (or another book by the author).

If it was framed, however, as books “recommended” by the author I’d just read, and there were 3-5 excerpts available to read through, I would find it fascinating. It would probably be enough for me to check out a book, even without an excerpt, if it were simply in a list of books recommended by an author I liked. Getting to read excerpts of these new books for free would fit exactly in the movie preview metaphor that Konrath came up with.

And maybe the best part of this marketing effort is that it maintains it’s utility (and perhaps increases it) as the market continues to shift more towards eBooks and away from traditional paper books.


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