Would You Buy This Book?

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. We’ve already reached the end of January, but I hope your year is off to a good start.

It goes without saying that all authors, Indies in particular, must promote their books. Although many authors hate this part, marketing is an essential part of the writing process.

Fellow SE contributor Jan Sikes has a fantastic series on marketing. If you haven’t read her posts, I highly recommend doing so.

Several months ago, we SE authors had a behind-the-scenes discussion about promoting books. It all stemmed from a tweet Staci read where an author posed the following: “If you like (popular author’s name) and (another popular author’s name), you’ll love my books.” He went on to ask if that would make a reader take a closer look at that author’s work.

Most of the responses on Twitter weren’t positive. Our reactions weren’t either.

Very interesting. I feel the same as most of the folks who commented. I’m not swayed by an “I’m like another author” tag. I am more influenced by someone I know loving a book or author.

That is interesting. Sometimes it does make me take another look at the book, but more times than not I tend to gloss over it as a gimmick.

It only sways me if I know and trust the author.

Those types of comps don’t sway me. Sometimes they deter me, actually.

As a Net Galley reviewer, I’ve also noticed a lot of this:

I’ve seen several books on Net Galley and BookBub offers that promote by saying “perfect for fans of (popular author)” Neither sways me.

I get that publishers need to entice readers to request advanced copies. But there’s still something about the idea that bothers me. Maybe because I’ve been duped a few times, thinking a book would be comparable to someone like Stephen King, Mary Higgins-Clark, or John Gresham, only to be disappointed.

This bears the question, should we even compare ourselves to other authors?

Another thing I’ve noticed a lot, particularly with thrillers and psychological fiction, is the addition of so-called “enticing” words alongside the titles. Things like:

  • Absolutely gripping
  • Jaw-dropping twist
  • Totally gripping
  • Utterly compelling
  • Nail biting psychological thriller

And my favorite (just kidding):

  • Unputdownable

Until recently, I didn’t even know that was a word. Don’t get me wrong. Some of these books lived up to the hype, but do we really need this? Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but what happened to the days when a book’s title, blurb, and cover were enough?

Now it’s your turn. As a reader, would you buy a book if you saw those words in a promo or as part of the book’s title? Would it deter you?

As an author, do you see these things as a good approach to marketing? Would you try it? Please share in the comments.

80 thoughts on “Would You Buy This Book?

  1. As avid readers and/or writers, this marketing technique may rub the wrong way but if you look at at it objectively, from the majority casual readers’ pov, it does intrigue people. Personally my initial reaction to a tag like “Suzanne Collins meets J.K Rowling in this amazing fantasy” is to laugh in stitches, but funnier thing is I’ll investigate this outrageous claim, and if I’m intrigued by the first few pages, I may end up getting the book. Obviously it’s frustrating when the claim is so far off but one thing it always is(to me) is funny and intriguing.


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  3. As a reader, im a sucker for a nice cover and title. As an author, I use things like “im you enjoy my blogs, you will love my books” or “if you love poetry, this book is for you”


  4. I don’t like these things either. Or the one where half the blurb is made up of comments from reviews. Just tell me what the book is about, and let me make up my own mind. I want to decide for myself if the author has a similar style to someone else, and if I’d recommend the book to friends who are fans of a certain other author. And, no, I wouldn’t do these things myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. I’m not a fan of author comparisons, and tend to ignore books which include them in blurbs and releases.

    This also happens withe a lot of literary agents, which always leads me to believe they’re not looking for good stories, but instead, echoes of proven bestsellers. Meh.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post, Joan! I’ve done both… “fantasy in the tradition of (so and so)” and “In this gripping finale,….” Both were recommended to me by professional marketers. In both cases, I felt a bit awkward. However, there may be good reasons to do it.

    Fantasy is such a broad genre, it might help a reader to understand if the book is a quest with elves, versus something with more “vampiric realism” (though a blurb should also handle that). The main reason I think for mentioning the name of a similar author was SEO – in the case of a reader searching for a book “like Tolkien” or “like Anne Rice.” The “gripping” intro probably doesn’t make a difference, but I’m not sure it hurts. As authors, we’re pretty sophisticated analyzers of blurbs – lol. The average reader may be less critical. And again… SEO may come into play – A thriller that mentions “thriller/thrilling” a few times is going to rank higher on searches. Great post and lots to think about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whenever I see the “If you like…” comments, it makes me feel as if that author is a copycat or a fan fiction author, and both of those would leave me disappointed. I understand the desire to get readers to notice your books, and it probably works in the numbers game, but I don’t want to be like another author. I want readers to read my stories and feel as if they’ve fallen in love with someone who stands on her own imagination. Great post, Joan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The claim of “if you like…, you’d like my book” or on a blog’s sidebar posts “I write like…” don’t influence my decisions in purchasing or reading the books. I like the look inside or recommendations from the book reviews.

    Great post, Harmony! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t pay attention to any of the hype when I choose a book. I don’t believe any of it. The only thing “If you like …..” tells me is what TYPE of book it is. That sometimes helps. Other than that, I look at the cover and blurb and pay attention to a few peoples’ reviews that I trust, then cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would never be brave enough to compare myself to another author. Sure, we all have authors that we look up to, but no way would I have the audacity to do something like say I’m the next Agatha Christie or (fill in the blank). Thanks for stopping by, Michele.


  11. Great article, Joan! For me, a cover is the first thing I look at. You can tell a lot by the cover. Next, is a toss up between the book’s blurb and the thoughts of fellow readers. I’m going to have to agree with the SE team when it comes to “I’m like so & so” statements. I feel those are rarely accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. The first time I saw the word unputdownable I just laughed! 😀 Such a clumsy word which says nothing! As for books ‘like … another famous author’ phrases on a cover turns me off a book straight away. Personally I’ve never given acr copies of my books out and instead relied on word of mouth / typewritten word here on the blogs and also within local papers etc as well as book events. An interesting post, Joan and fascinating to read the variety of comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Is that not a crazy word? I’ve not given away arcs of my books either, Annika. I have used beta readers in the past, but that’s it. Looks like everyone here is in agreement about this type of “self-promotion.”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I have the same reaction to “If you like…” I do say my books are like Jean Auel’s–but what I really mean is they’re the same genre, not voice. I’m sure anyone expecting the next of Auel’s books would be disappointed!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The bulk of my reading is centered on psychological or domestic suspense, and I swear almost every book now claims to have a “jaw-dropping twist” or to be “unputdownable.” It’s so common place these days, when I see buzz words like those, I usually end up rolling my eyes. I’ve been burnt many times by books that failed to deliver.As for the comparison angle, it might make me take a look at the book (to see if I’m interested), but it definitely wouldn’t make me purchase it.

    This is an interesting post, with an interesting question, Joan. I’ve found that even when sending agent queries, it’s strongly suggested for unknown authors to compare their work to well known writers. The first small press I was with used to have a section in the forms authors completed for promotion asking for three titles similar to their work. It seems we just can’t escape those comparisons.

    I don’t like doing it myself, but I admit I would be flattered if someone compared my work to a well know author like… Jennifer McMahon.
    Fabulous post today!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I read a lot of psychological fiction this past year and I noticed the same thing, Mae. Like you, I’ve been burned a few times.

      I can understand the comparison in query letters – agents and pubs want to know up front what type of books they’re looking at. And wouldn’t we all like to be compared to a well-known best-selling author?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Good questions, Joan! Personally, I hate comparisons to famous authors, mostly the writers are almost always NOT at all like the ones they compare themselves to. So I usually ignore them and try to learn a bit more about what the book being advertised is actually about, and how strong the writing is. (That’s one of the reasons I LOVE the option on Amazon to read the first few pages of books I’m considering. I can usually tell pretty quickly if I’m going to like the author’s style or not.)
    Sometimes, I’m actually repelled by the name of the author they’ve chosen to compare their work with. (There are several Big Name writers that I do NOT enjoy reading.) All in all, I think using comparisons, at best, doesn’t actually work, and at worst, might even chase some folks off.

    I don’t mind the exaggerated “absolutely hair rising, nail biting, compelling, etc” claims as much, but only because they at least give a clue as to the type of book it’s meant to be. (Not that they always lives up the hype.) Mostly, I just rely on the blurb, which I think it’s critical to nail, and reviews, if any are already posted.

    Super post, Joan! I’m aiming not to miss any this week, and to get my Weekly RoundUp posts done, too. (Last week was a tough one, and I fell behind.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Marcia. A good cover and well-written blurb are what I look at. Then, I’ll skim reviews. I do like the free preview option in Amazon.

      Glad you see you around and about. Do continue to take care of yourself first! We always appreciate the shares and reblogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Joan. I’m feeling a tiny bit better each day. Slow, yes, but better than heading the other direction, that’s for sure! And I’ll be back to my weekly share for you guys this weekend, if all goes well. I’m always happy to pass these posts along. Great stuff! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m torn on this question. The comps never sway me (I tend to ignore them because I don’t believe them), but marketing data suggests they work for most readers, which is why it’s become so popular. One of the biggest problems I have with it is that we’re told to be unique and stand out so people will crave our work over the others in the same genre, then we’re told to market by comparing ourselves to other names. I can see doing it in a query letter to an agent, but I don’t care for doing it in the descriptions readers see.

    Great question to ponder and discuss. Thanks, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’m not a fan of authors comparing themselves to other authors. Although, I don’t mind specific book comparisons. As an example, a reviewer called Wings of Mayhem “a cross between Silence of the Lambs and The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.” I never used it in my book marketing, but I recently added it to the end of the book description. I’ll let you know if it works. Probably won’t, but it’s worth a shot. Most of the books I read come from recommendations, or I like the author as a person and want to support them by reading their book(s).

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I definitely would not buy a book just because they say it is like another author’s work. In fact, just the opposite. I prefer to read individual and unique authors who aren’t like anyone else. 🙂 I also agree with some of the ‘selling’ words that can put the reader off. If the cover, logline and blurb don’t do it, then it’s back to the drawing board. Great post, Joan, and thank you for the mention!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. If an author compares themselves to popular authors, I’m immediately put off by that. As you mentioned with NetGalley, I’ve seen a lot more books mentioned with comp titles, but the majority of those I’ve read have been little to nothing like those titles. One I read just last week used comp titles from a couple books that were bestsellers, but the story and characters in no way resembled them – which left me disappointed and having to deduct stars from a review.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I’m on the side of not taking advantage of a well-known author by using their name to promote a book. I think it is like copyright infringement. The author’s name is a brand and should not be misused. Terrific post, Joan. I pretty much read authors that I know will deliver. For the last three years, I have read nothing but Indies. There have been some clunkers but mostly great reads.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. If others, particularly people I trust, said those things, I might be swayed. If the author says them, no. It’s like bloggers who declare themselves to be “visionary” or “thought leaders” – I usually skip their blogs.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. The “enticing” words make me think of “click-bait” and the use of emotional words to get you to click on an article.

    Using those “enticing” words and phrases might get my attention, but it won’t necessarily make me buy it. The cover attracts me more, but mainly the blurb is what really gets me. If the story premise doesn’t grab me, I’ll likely pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post, Joan. With millions of books published each year, I’m likely to be swayed by the comments of friends. The hype actually turns me off. I may read the book eventually, but it won’t be on the top of my list. Otherwise, I choose to read books of writers I’ve come to respect — through their style and their approach to life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think many of us feel like you do, Gwen. We’re fortunate in that we have so many choices these days, but as authors it means a lot more competition for us. Recommendations and comments from friends are helpful in me decided what to read.


  25. I’m in the put-off-by-comparions-with-big-authors camp. It comes across as desperate. The ability to read the first few chapters on Amazon first is a great help and, like many others, personal recommendation comes top of my list. Great topic, Joan! x

    Liked by 2 people

  26. If I come across a book with pages and pages and pages of praise before it gets to anything else, I usually get out of there as fast as possible. It means nothing to me, and neither do comparisons to other books and/or authors. The cover, title, and blurb are there to sell the book. If, instead, I see all that other nonsense, it actually tells me ‘this book can’t sell itself. Look elsewhere’.

    Marie’s comment intrigued me. It resonates with a report I read a while back that basically said AIs are going to be writing the books of the future … I guess nobody wants originality or fresh, then?

    Great post, Joan, with lots of good talking points. Thanks for sharing 💕🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m the same way, Jill. Recommendations from friends or bloggers influence my decision to buy or read a book. The blurb as well. And if a cover is “meh” that’s a big turn off for me. I like that Amazon will allow a sample download. If the story doesn’t grab me in the first few pages, it’s not worth it.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Someone famous once said, ‘Show me the money!’ and that is how I feel about promoting books. Don’t confuse me by saying its like a book I haven’t read or an author I don’t know. Tell me something interesting about the story, that works for me every time!

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Not directly related, but the “If you like (popular author’s name) and (another popular author’s name), you’ll love my books” part reminds me of how I was weirded out when I learned that in querying, you need to include comparison titles to your book. I’d been told we’re supposed to be original, but eh, I guess I need to say that my book is like the Hunger Games or something.

    Anyway! I don’t pay much attention to those blurbs on the cover, either. I take the cover first, then read the actual synopsis… and put it down when I can’t find any. (I’m one of those who are peeved by physical copies having paragraphs of reviews instead of actual summaries.) But a recommendation by a friend or a fave author will get a book in my TBR too, even if it might not be a genre I like reading 😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree about covers, Marie. It’s often the first thing that draws me to a book. As I said to Jill, a bad cover turns me away from the book.

      Yes, interesting about querying that we need to compare our works to other authors.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. My husband was recently given a bag full of paperbacks a friend found in her attic. Some authors we recognised and some we didn’t, but ALL of them had “International Best Seller”, or similar, printed on the front. Was he impressed? No, though he did suggest as my books sell worldwide, I did the same. 🙂
    Personally, I read the blurb, and if that intrigues me, the Amazon “look inside”, before I decide whether to buy a book, unless I’ve read and enjoyed books by the author already… or Harmony gives them 5 stars!

    Liked by 6 people

  30. I completely agree! There are too many fake accolades showered onto mediocrity. Is there any book of fiction left in this universe, which does not display a similar overload of praises on its back cover? I am more intrigued by negative and critical reviews, it would prove an intelligent mind had actually spent the time and read the book.

    Liked by 6 people

  31. I’m more of a word of mouth reader. If a book is recommended by a trusted source is what usually gets a book on my TBR list. Once in a while a blurb or excerpt might capture my attention. I never pay any attention to those words on the cover and unputdownable isn’t a word I take seriously. Great post, Joan 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

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