Try Before You Buy
In general, we don’t like to purchase books or music without getting a taste of the product. When I go to the bookstore, I like to read the back cover, look at the endorsements (if any) then I read a couple of pages inside the book. If I like what I see, then I will take that book to the counter and pay for it. It’s the same with music. Either I walk into the store and know the artist and song that I plan to purchase or I take a few minutes to listen with the headphones in the store.
Our experience is much the same with the online stores. Several years ago, Amazon.com launched Search Inside. It allows the potential buyer to try the book before buying. For an example, check out Book Proposals That $ell. If you roll the arrow of your mouse over the book cover, it will reveal a window to show you different parts of the insides of the book.
I’ve purchased books from this feature and I’ve heard from others that it’s a feature they like and use regularly. If you spend much time looking at Amazon.com books, you learn not every book includes “Search Inside.” Why not?
Someone has to take the time to send the book to Amazon.com. Then it takes several weeks for Amazon.com to get the pages scanned and on their site. That “someone” is often the publisher for your book. But it doesn’t have to be just your publisher. Authors can also submit their own books to Amazon.com and activate this feature. Here’s the link to get started in the process. It involves filling out a legal release, printing it and mailing it to a specified address with a physical copy of the book. Then you wait until the book gets through their system and one day it magically appears on the book page.
I’ve often written in these entries about the writing life about the overstretched and understaffed publicity and marketing staffs. These people love books and want to get this submission for every book but likely it doesn’t happen. They are limited. As a author who cares about the details for marketing your books, it’s another opportunity for you to take action. I’d suggest checking with your publisher to see if they plan to handle this detail—and if it hasn’t been done, you can offer to handle it. For Book Proposals That $ell, I worked with a small press with few marketing resources. I submitted my own book to Amazon.com and Christianbooks.com.
Is it helping to sell books? I’m sure of it.