Managing Reader Expectations
By Karen Baney
As a software engineer, I’ve been involved in many projects over the last decade. One of the biggest keys to the success of those projects has nothing to do with the actual software end product. Instead, it involved managing expectations of the project stakeholders along the way.
The same can be true of book marketing. A reader’s opinion about your book can be a direct result of the expectations you’ve helped them set.
Nervous yet? Don’t be. Managing readers’ expectations isn’t as hard as it might sound.
Let’s take a look at how readers’ expectations are set:
1. The cover helps set the reader’s expectations for the genre and quality of the book.
Even though we wish readers would not judge a book by its cover, they do. The cover gives the reader an impression about the book’s genre and subject matter. Two people kissing or locked in an embrace generally sends the message that the book is a romance. Spaceships on the cover says Sci-Fi.
The quality of the cover also sets an expectation for the quality of the writing. That’s why it is so important to invest in a well-designed cover.
2. Back cover copy sets the reader’s expectations for the plot and characters.
Have you ever read the back cover copy (product description) of a book and been completely disappointed by the book’s inability to deliver on what was promised? If so, then you can totally relate to this point.
The back cover copy helps the reader identify genre and at least some element of the plot for fiction or the problem to be solved for non-fiction. If the back cover copy is misleading or weak, it can alter the reader’s satisfaction level after having read the book. The back cover copy must deliver on its promises.
3. Previously published titles set the reader’s expectations for quality and entertainment value.
A poorly written book is your worst nightmare as an author. If a reader picks up one of your titles and hates it, they assume they will not like any of your other titles. That book has set their expectations. Sometimes you can overcome this obstacle with good reviews on your other books or strong marketing messages.
Similarly, if they absolutely loved one title, they assume they will love all of your other titles. Now the pressure is on. Time to write another solid, captivating book in order to meet the reader’s expectations.
4. Advertising messages set the reader’s expectations for genre and content.
How you market the book makes a difference. If you market a book as a western, it better have some of the elements associated with that genre.
What you say makes a difference as well. If your marketing message talks about a sweet kiss, readers are going to think that romance is a theme of the book. If it isn’t, consider revising the marketing message to better reflect the book’s themes.
5. Guest blog posts set the reader’s expectations for quality and content.
While only a small fraction of the number of readers that buy your book will learn about it from a guest blog post, it is important to put effort into writing a good post. If your post is sloppy or inconsistent with your writing style, readers may be disappointed when they pick up your book.
This is especially true with non-fiction. Your goal when promoting non-fiction works is to set yourself up as an authority on the subject matter related to your book. Make sure your guest posts reflect that.
6. Interviews set the reader’s expectations for likability and entertainment.
A poorly written interview can lower your likability with readers. They may still pick up your book because it sounds interesting to them, but why not make them love you first?
Every word about your book, on your website, in a product description, etc., sets the tone. Readers make certain assumptions, right or wrong, about your book based on those words.
The moral of this story? Take some time to evaluate your marketing messages. Make sure they set the expectation that you want the reader to have.
Learn more about pricing, distribution, and the other keys to book marketing success in Karen’s new book for authors, 10 Keys to eBook Marketing Success. Now available on Amazon.
Best-selling self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years. She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels. To learn more about her novels visit her website: karenbaney.com. Authors can find tips and information on self-publishing and marketing at: www.myauthorservices.com.
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