Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dystopian Marketing

I have made no secret of my dislike of the whole "dystopian" thing in popular culture these days. Much of my dislike springs from the fact that it, mostly, is not actually dystopian but post-apocalyptic, and I got over the whole post-apocalyptic thing back in the 80s. Names mean something to me, which is part of the reason I never liked Tim Burton's Joker movie. What? You're telling me that Burton never made a Joker movie? Sure, he did; he called it Batman. I walked out of that movie completely dissatisfied and the first comment I made to friends that I saw it with was, "I might have liked it if they'd called it The Joker." [I'm not just giving an opinion here. If you watch any of the interviews with Burton at the time, he says repeatedly that the movie was focused on the Joker. That's the character he found interesting. He could really have cared less about Batman.]

Anyway, if you want to know more about my whole thing with dystopians and calling things what they are, hop over to Indie Writers Monthly and read the post.

Now, I have a question. Last month, I did a little experiment focused on getting reviews. Mostly, that didn't work out. I did get one review from it, so it wasn't a total failure, but one is hardly what I'd call successful, either. However, I did get some sales from the push for reviews. So here's the question: What is it that makes you go from thinking you might want to read a particular book some day to actually buying that book in preparation for reading it? I know what it is for me (sort of), but I don't think, at this point in my life, that I'm a good example of how people buy books. Then there's that it seems to work to some extent (no matter how much I don't like doing it) when I say, "Hey, buy my book! please" And I do know that I don't do that "enough," at least, not according to all of those marketing people who say you ought to have such and such a ratio of self-promotion to other stuff. I tend to, um, not self promote at all.

So, yes, specifically, I'm looking to find out what it would take those of you out there who have been thinking about buying one of my writing things to move from the "thinking about it" side of things to the "doing it" side of things, but I'm assuming that it's the same process for my stuff as for any other books. So let me know:

What's the thing that pushes you over the edge from just thinking about buying a book to actually buying the book. Aside from how it might benefit me, I am curious. Let's call it a data study.

And don't forget, after you answer that question, here, hop over to Indie Writers Monthly and read all about the "dystopian thing"!


  1. For me, a what-you-see-is-how-it-looks excerpt almost always will help me decide. I need to know that I'm going to like the author's style, the format of the pages, the tone, the level of the writing, etc.

    The other thing I think you should probably keep in mind for Shadow Spinner is that promoting to people who are "old enough" to be blogging probably aren't the real target audience you're going for. I'd call Shadow Spinner MG, and you may get some luck trying to weasel some time in at Wattpad, or on other places where people in that age range are hanging out.

    Just my thoughts. :)

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

  2. What do you mean you don't like post-apocalyptic dystopian stories??! Harrumph.

    And the thing that gets me to buy a book is often word of mouth, a good blurb showing the conflict, a promising first page. The usual stuff. I also watch what my friends are reading on Goodreads. I'll often go check out the novels they list to see if they're my cuppa.

  3. For me it's totally price point along with interest. My budget is very limited, so if it fits into the 99 cent range, but doesn't normally land in that category, I will probably grab it--if the cover and blurb really have me. (I don't even bother with samples.) I know this is really sad, but I have a whole watch list of books I'm waiting to buy until I can afford it, or then suddenly drop. *pointing to self* Part of the problem, I know!

  4. I'm not sure. I too have to be very price conscious and lately, I have so many books on my TBR list that I don't really need to be spending money on any more. However, every so often I see something by a favourite author and am tempted, again depending on the price. Like Brandon Sanderson I get from the library, his books are way too expensive for me these days.

  5. Alex H: I think Shadow Spinner is only MG in the same way that Gaiman's Ocean is MG. Which is to say "not very."
    However, there are two things:
    1. Lots of adults read MG and YA books.
    2. Book marketing to the actual MG audience only really happens through adults, especially online.

    L.G.: There are exceptions, but I can't say that I'm not tired of them just in general.

    Word of mouth is a big deal for me, too. If it's from someone whose taste I trust.

    Crystal: I can understand price being an issue. I'd buy more books (that would sit on a shelf for years waiting to be read) if I had more money.
    I suppose you should have picked up Spinner when the parts were FREE! :P

    Jo: More than money, I've become very conscious of the stack of books I have already that I need to read.

  6. New to your blog from the A to Z challenge.

    I know it is silly but i definitely buy books based on their covers. And I also take a lot of stock in reviews- especially Amazon reviews.

  7. Kate: I try to make my decisions about books, at this point, completely independent of the covers. And I tend to not pay that much attention to Amazon reviews. They're too often "I loved this!" which doesn't tell me anything at all.

  8. Also, Kate, in case you are following comments, I tried to hop over to your blog, but my virus scanner blocked it and gave me a malicious software (or something) warning.

  9. For me, it's if your book is available on iTunes.

    I do not have a credit/debit card to use for Amazon/any other site, so, unless I get a gift card - which I do occasionally get - I buy books from iTunes.

    I ALWAYS have money on my iTunes account.

  10. I was thinking about buying House on the Corner because I read good reviews about it, Bryan did a "spin off" of it and I like your writing. But, what made me actually purchase the book was where it took place. I know, not the best reason, but that's the truth. I also like a bit of a preview before I read someone I never read before. Like how the beer boys did Slim. They had me hooked after the first three installments. I *had* to know how Slim's journey turned out.

    (I'm still reading HOC. I'm a very, very slow reader!)

  11. One way to get me to read a book is a lot of positive reviews from the Blog-o-Sphere. Unfortunately, there are so many that I've a list a mile long that I need to get to!

  12. RG: I have not done iTunes, but, maybe, I will at some point with House, since it's already not exclusive to Amazon.

    Elsie: I'm not the fastest reader myself, so I totally get that. And thank you for buying it :)

    randi: I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Your list, I mean. Cause mine is long. Seriously, at one point that I quit buying books for a while it was because my stack of TBR books was actually taller than me. And that was before e-books!

  13. I have been working on a post about what attracts me as a reader to read a book. I've learned recently you can't really rely on the reviews alone or even suggestions for instance from GoodReads.

  14. G_G: Ah, well, I'm looking forward to that post, then.

  15. I've mulled over this one for a few hours before commenting. And to be honest, I don't think there is one single thing that pushes me over the edge and inspires me to buy a book, but here is a few things that have inspired me on occasions:

    1. Word of mouth recommendation from someone who I respect.
    2. Cover and blurb caught my attention.
    3. Controversy or the potential to offer a worthwhile talking point on my blog.
    4. Happen to know the author (either IRL or online,) and have watched their journey toward publication.
    5. Freebie promotion--this one usually works best when I've gone to download one free title that has been recommended from the above and I figure I may as well stock up on a few other titles while I'm here.
    6. Reviews. This one is a funny beast. A positive review from someone who I respect may help push me over the edge and buy the book. On the same token, a lot of negative reviews from people who clearly missed the point of the book can inspire me to read it as well, because it's usually a sign that this book is going to offer something that challenges readers.

    Hope this helps.

  16. Kathryn: I think all of those happen for me to some extent except for #5. I mean, I may pick up a free book to help someone out (why not, it's free), but that doesn't mean I have any intention of reading it. I might, but I might not.