The Book Consideration Funnel: How Readers Think When Buying (or NOT Buying) Your Book
Once you’ve published a book, a big part of your success is – you guessed it – people reading it. While there’s credibility that comes with having written and published, many of the benefits don’t accrue until someone reads your words, puts your advice into practice. But before that can happen, readers need to learn that you book exists…and that’s only the beginning of the journey to them becoming your reader.
That’s why it’s important to understand the Book Consideration Funnel (BCF). What the BCF? It’s a predictable thought process that most readers go through as they decide whether or not to buy and/or read your book. While it’s predictable, it’s rarely conscious, nor intentional. But if you understand how the BCF works, you stand a much better chance of using the right strategies to navigate readers through it. And that’s powerful.
The order of the first two steps of the BCF can flip, depending on how your reader first discovers your book, but otherwise it goes as follows:
1. Book Title
This includes your main title. For nonfiction (especially nonfiction books by entrepreneurs), this usually includes a subtitle too, and it’s normally (sometimes alongside the cover) the first thing a prospective reader sees of your book. If it doesn’t pique their interest, they’re unlikely to go further.
The front cover is what readers see in online listings or in book reviews, and so (again, alongside the title) it’s key in forming first impressions. The cover is also what’s most likely to catch someone’s eye on a shelf, a desk, or when someone else is reading your book on the subway, for example. If the cover doesn’t stand out, or if it’s poor quality or communicates the wrong impression, you’re going to struggle to convert browsers to readers.
If a reader likes the title and cover, they’ll want to learn more by flipping the book over to read the description (or scroll down to see it if they’re online). That way, they can understand exactly what your book is about. It’s just like watching a trailer before committing to watching a movie in full.
4. Reviews and Ratings
Though not packaging per se, readers pay special attention to reviews, especially if they’re thinking of buying your book online.
5. Contents Page
Next, readers are likely to flip open your book and skim the contents page to see what topics your book will cover.
Only after considering all of the above is a reader likely to consider reading any of the actual text of your book. In fact, if the previous elements have done their job well, many readers will buy it without reading any of it at all.
While price can be a consideration earlier in the funnel, it’s entirely irrelevant if the reader isn’t sold on the value of the book itself. So, while price may be a bit of a barrier, a low price is never the most important factor.
There are two other considerations that sometimes come into play also - format and distribution channel - however they’re more binary, and act more like filters at the top of the BCF. For many readers, if a book isn’t available in a certain format or through a particular distribution channel, they’re unlikely to discover, let alone buy, it. This is particularly true of avid audiobook listeners, eBook readers, and Amazon Prime members, for example.
As you can see, each stage of the BCF involves how your book is packaged. And, at many of these steps, readers make snap judgements to decide if your book is worth their time. That’s why thinking about how you’ll package your book based on the BCF is so important. Whether or not your manuscript is exceptional, there’s a lot of convincing you need to do before a reader even reads a single word of it. By optimizing each of the elements of the BCF in your book packaging, you’ll have a much better chance of readers buying (and ultimately reading) your book.