Saturday, September 25, 2010

First chapters

Late last year, a fellow author on the anthology, “Holiday Brides” suggested we promote our book on, an online magazine that features multicultural romance literature. Pursuant to that, I signed up for the Sormag newsletter which now comes to my email inbox – no effort necessary. A few weeks ago, while at work taking a break from the mundane task of reviewing scientific literature, I opened my email. In it was a promo from Sormag magazine, which included a summary of the book, author profile and most importantly the first chapter of the book.

I began to read the first chapter. It left me yearning to read more. Within five minutes of reading the chapter, I purchased the book from That book made its way to the top of the to-be read pile and I immediately read the book. It was a good read. The book: “Huddle with Me Tonight”. The author: our very own Farrah Rochon. That says a lot, because though I am a romance author, my reading list hardly contains romance. I am more into drama (John Grisham, James Patterson, Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown) and non-fiction that read like fiction (e.g. The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot), than romance. Never underestimate the power of First Chapters.

That was not the first time reading first chapters caused me to purchase a book and elevate it to the top of my TBR pile. A month ago the same thing happened. When I went to, they recommended other similar books and I purchased them too.

So why am I writing about this? Maybe we need to discuss different types of book promotion. I, like many readers, no longer browse bookstores looking for new books to read. In fact the only times I’ve been in a bookstore for the past two years was for fundraising events sponsored by my daughter’s school or when she dragged me, all excited to see if my novels were in the local Barnes and Nobles (yes she dragged me). But when sends me an email hinting that because I purchased one book, I may like a different book by the same author or a different author in the same genre with similar writing style, it peaks my interest. I peruse the book and often consider buying it. Similarly, if a friend recommends a book or an author, the first thing I do is go online, read the summary and the reviews. If I like it, a purchase is just a click away.

Buying books have changed, with online purchases increasing significantly in the last couple of years. A flyer in a bookstore does not have the same impact as it had ten years ago. Therefore promoting a book has changed with the times.

I’ve given you just one method of book promotion that encourages me to purchase books. How about you? I would like this to be a discussion of different ways to promote books in the digital age. So authors, give your two cents. Readers, what makes you go out and purchase a book?


G said...

I haven't purchased a new book in years. Usually if I want to read something new, I'll peruse my local library or the library's digital catalogue if its a book a blog friend recommended that I can't find at my library.

The last time I did purchase a new book, it was a reference/non-fiction, which is about the only genre I buy because its the easiest thing to read multiple times at work (lots of down time at work equals lots of reading time, so I have two cabinets worth of non-fiction/reference books).

With fiction, I usually read it just once and that's it. Even if I like the book, it's easier (and cheaper, especially for me with money being as tight as it is) to get the book from the library as opposed to buying it. I rather not have my limited shelf space taken up by a book that I will read just once.

Farrah Rochon said...

Great post, Jewel, and not just because you mentioned my book. :)

Of all the things that have thrown me for a loop since jumping into this publishing biz, promotion is probably the number one. The ROI is the hardest thing to track. If you had not emailed about buying my book based on that advertisement with SORMAG, I would have had no idea if it had made one bit of difference. At least now I know it led to the sale of at least one book.

You're right about the changing landscape in book buying. With so many people buying eReaders (and I think that number will jump considerably during the holidays), publishers and authors have to find another way to market books. The usual methods--bookmarks, ads in print magazines, etc--are losing their effectiveness.

I think word of mouth is still the number one marketing tool. But how do you get people to start talking about your books? Wish I had the answer.

Charles Gramlich said...

So far, I've not be influenced at all by those "you might also like" notes from Amazon. In fact, I've kind of found them irritating, but I've probably ignored them to my peril. You're one of several people now who've told me they've found great stuff in that way. I should start paying attention perhaps.

I've also been considering ways to include solid samples of my work as possible teasers for people. I could probably do this through my blog. thanks for bringing this back front and center for me.

Jewel Amethyst said...

G, an electronic book reader would be ideal for you. You would not require much space, but I'm afraid the cost may still be an issue.

Thanks Farrah. Word of mouth is by far the best method, at least for me. While driving, I listen to public radio where authors would often be featured discussing their books. Many times it peaks my interest. However, by the time I leave my car, despite my promise to check out the book, I would totally forget. That's why digital advertizing with links to the purchase site is often effective (for me). I can just click the link and purchase the book.

When I visited my home country, St. Kitts, this year, I did a radio interview where excerpts from the book were read. I got lots of questions then about where it could be purchased. But that's a much smaller country than the US where an effective means of communication is placing loudspeakers on a vehicle and driving around the island.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Charles, your blog with the heavy traffic it undoubtedly gets would be an ideal place to place teasers and first chapter excerpts. I enjoy doing blog tours but I really don't know how effective those are.

I see facebook has advertizing which probably would reach millions digitally, but the truth is, I've never been tempted to click on one of them.

I wonder if Kindle or other e-books have a "coming soon to ..." section where excerpts or first chapters from available books could be read? I don't have one as yet though it's on my wishlist(hint hint hubby).

Liane Spicer said...

Newspaper and magazine reviews used to do it for me, but more and more of these publications are shutting down their book sections. :(

Now I'm most likely to buy a book if someone recommends it directly via a blog discussion, or if I've already read a book by the author and liked it. I seldom take the time to read the chapter excerpts in newsletters like Sormag's. I also tend to ignore the "You Might Like..." suggestions from Amazon, although the ones that come up after you've added a book to your cart sometimes yield good stuff.