TBR Pile – Marketing Monday
People talk to authors about having your story stand out in the slush pile, but I’ve never seen anyone talk about what to do if you’re already published book is on a lot of TBR piles but never clicked over to ‘Currently Reading’. Let’s fix that now.
This post will be geared towards authors, but I think it will be interesting to anyone who has a to be read pile that could crush a man. Adding a new chore on a to do list is never meant with the same excitement that adding a book to your TBR list is. But like all lists, they inherently have problems.
A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review wrote a piece on why to-do list don’t work. To summarize, they simply aren’t effective. The article claims there are five problems with this organizational system.
1) The paradox of choice is a theory suggests that the more options you are given the more anxious and unsatisfied you become over those choices.
2) Heterogeneous complexity happens because your brain loves quick rewards, and will lead you to picking off easy targets first.
3) Heterogeneous priority is caused by differences in deadlines, perceived or not.
4) Lack of context comes into play when a whole series lands in your pile. Or maybe one of the books is three times as long.
5) Lack of commitment devices are factors that keep you engaged and make it so you can’t quit the task.
I believe all of them, at some level, apply to having your book stuck on a TBR list.
Paradox of choice: Why your book? And why should someone read it now? Most marketing methods work to solve this problem. Discounts, reminders of your books features, and so on.
Heterogeneous complexity: This is a harder one to combat. If you wrote a brick of a novel telling people it will take forever to read is not the right method. On the flip side, I’ve seen people add “weekend read” plenty of times. Similar tactics can also be cleverly used with an anthology. If it’s a long book, is it an easy read?
Heterogeneous priority: In the advertising world this is the power of “limited time only”. If your book can get picked up by a club it’s priority will shift. If you are coming out with a sequel people might try to finish the first. Does your book cover a certain holiday? Suggest reading it over that season.
Lack of Context: I think for an author, the context that is important is who you are to the reader. Do you share your favorite books? Do you tweet funny things? Do you fight for others? Who are you beyond an author when the TBR is filled with all authors. There are so many books that release all the time. But if someone I know has a book, I’ll likely read it before an unknown writer with a cool concept.
Lack of Commitment Devices: Sometimes there’s a free book I’ll download with intent to read, and never actually do. I don’t lose anything here. On the flip side, if I’m given a book and told someone I’d review it, I feel guilty if I don’t. If it’s part of a book club, readers feel compelled to finish since it’s a collective agreement.
Once someone buys or agrees to review, there’s no device in place to have them actually read it. Sure you could nicely follow-up, but I’d suggest going about in ways that offer something more. Stickers, bookplates, hell, I’ve seen cat gifs promised as a reward for simple tweetable actions. REUTS author, Drew Hayes, turns release day into a drinking game