Since I started advertising my promotions on ebook lists, I’ve signed up for several. I get daily emails from Bookbub, Bookgorilla, bestfreeebooks and more. Some times weeks go by and I don’t see much, other times I am picking up new books almost daily. It’s hard not to when they are all free or ninety nine cents.
And then my TBR pile started weighing on my mind. The last time I organized my kindle into collections I had eighty books waiting to be read. I feel guilty about downloading these books and then not reading them promptly. So I make a resolution to read, to reduce the pile, and to not buy new books until I’ve gotten the old ones read.
I never keep those resolutions for long. I read a handful of the books and start making progress. But invariably there is something free or on sale that I just can’t pass up. Often more than one thing.
This what we are up against today, as a reader and as a writer. As a reader there is a glut of books on the market and many of them are cheap. That’s a great thing and a terrible thing. It’s great because we will never run out of things to read, even in relatively small sub-genres. It’s terrible because we will never keep up with what’s out there, even in small sub-genres.
As a writer the resistance we face is changing. The main obstacle to selling someone a hardcover book in the old days was price. Trade paperbacks were easier to sell, but still price was often a deciding factor. A buyer walked into the bookstore with only so many dollars in their pocket. They could only buy so many books. The goal for the author was to make sure their book was one of those.
With so many ebooks at 2.99 or 3.99 price isn’t the obstacle it once was. With authors running promotions constantly, it’s even less so. The main obstacle to selling books today is time. Readers are so inundated with cheap books that they can’t possibly read them all.
I know because I am one of those readers. My constantly swelling TBR pile has changed the way I read. If a story starts slow, is inconsistent or I find my attention slipping, I move on to something else in a matter of chapters. If errors and typos break the spell of reading more than a couple of times, the book is gone. If the story is good, but it just isn’t my kind of story, it goes. My “didn’t finish” pile has grown many times what it once was.
That’s not all a bad thing. In the old days if I went to a store and shelled out 6.99 for a trade paperback, I forced myself to finish it. I also learned to dislike certain authors and books. It robbed me of the pleasure of reading. It made me leery of authors I didn’t know.
Now I read more, and more widely. I am more willing to try out a new author if I can get their book cheap, and I allow myself the option to put the book down if I don’t like it. I read in many genres I wouldn’t have tried before.
And I’ve found authors and book series that I love. People I go back and buy their others works at regular price. People I am excited to meet at Cons.
As an author, it makes me realize that we have to change the way we market. It’s not good enough to convince the reader to buy our book, we have to convince them it’s worth reading. The blurb has to promise a story they will fall in love with, and the book has to deliver. Our openings need to grab the readers attention. The pacing needs to be smooth and consistent. We need to draw them in and keep them reading. We have to step up our game in every way. It’s the only way.
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