What readers look for first in a book

The aim of publishing is to get someone to read what is published. The author will not know the reader, so what can they do to motivate someone to look at their book?

People in the publishing business say the cover is what attracts readers first. I disagree. For many years I conducted an informal, haphazard, non-scientific survey of asking people I knew what attracted them to a book. Very few people said the cover convinced them to look at a book.

My survey group had a list of things they looked at first when considering a book. This included the author’s name, the genre, book reviews, and maybe the blurb. I also consider these things when looking for a book.

While blurbs are important, they are two or more paragraphs and the second thing I look at when selecting a book. I don’t look at book reviews. It’s a lot of trouble finding them and, besides, they are a stranger’s opinion.

As a reader, I look in the genre that interests me. This helps me narrow the search, but for an author their book is sitting there among many other books. On occasion I will look for an author’s name. However, I would have already read at least one of their books.

What attracts me and sometimes my survey group was the title of the book.

A few words across the front cover are the first thing people read. They may glance at the cover, adore the colors, but an interesting title will attract a reader’s interest.

P.S. I will post in two weeks my continued efforts to publish on IngramSpark. Alliance for Independent Authors gave me advice that helped.

Grant Updates

This is an update on two grant projects I recently blogged about.

The first, “Getting Emergency Grant Money” involved a nonprofit that was renovating an historic building and experienced a sudden problem. Work stopped for two weeks while experts evaluated the situation and permissions were renewed. During this time, the nonprofit contacted a local foundation for additional money.

The nonprofit had a long relationship with this foundation. After getting information from the experts and permission givers, we presented a way out of the problem. This was key to winning the confidence of the foundation members. While the amount of money is still to be set, the foundation will contribute as part of an out-of-cycle grant. Help is on the way.

All nonprofits need a foundation they can go to in emergencies because there will always be an emergency. However, these relationships should be nurtured when there are no emergencies. Get to know each other when it is not necessary to do so. (See my previous posts about relationships.)

I also recently blogged “PowerPoint for Money” about developing a short presentation explaining a nonprofit’s project. Nonprofit managers can then give the presentation to people with influence over a business or a foundation.

Recently, a nonprofit member gave our presentation to a local politician. The politician had influence with a foundation that generally did not support the nonprofit’s mission area. The verdict is still out, but things look hopeful. At least the presentation started a relationship.

One of the many jobs for grant writers is helping nonprofits develop multiple and diverse ways to get resources. Many times, this requires creativity. The more different ways to receive resources, the better prepared a nonprofit will be to meet emergencies. As Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Cover Problems, Again

I attempted to upload my novel to IngramSparks so I would have a wider distribution for my novel High School Rocket Science (For Extraterrestrial Use Only). That meant my book would be available to other markets outside of Amazon. I had one success.

With my KDP version, I had line spacing of 1.5 inches and an okay font. For IngramSparks, I tried 1.15, which was too small. I ended with 1.25 which was good. I also uploaded to IngramSparks using a different font. The text looked better. I was still at 335 pages, which was my goal.

Like with KDP, the cover stopped me. Somehow, I ended up with multiple images on the same cover with no way out. There did not seem to be a way to delete and try again. Obviously, I took a path that I should not have traveled. When the frustration grew, I decided to send a message for help and put it all aside.

At least for a few days. In the meantime, I had a grant to submit. Of course, I am still waiting for a reply from IngramSparks (hope dies last).

This week I will ask a writing group I belong to for help. The Alliance for Independent Authors is a good source that I should take advantage of and not be concerned about seeming too inept.

Writing seems to be more about getting knocked down and getting up again.

PowerPoint for Money

This is not to be death by PowerPoint (too many slides with too much text). This is presenting information in a different way that could be easily read.

Usually a nonprofit explains their needs through a grant application. Other ways can be through letters. A PowerPoint presentation gives the reader a different reading experience.

I have done many PowerPoint presentations in my Pentagon career. To be effective, a presentation should contain talking points, summaries, and general descriptions. I allow for white space on each page with few words, wide margins, and large fonts. Yes, it can be hard to describe a project and needs with this limited space.

One way is by listing all the project’s keywords, prioritizing them, getting rid of redundancies, and making them into sentences without adverbs, adjectives, or modifiers. When finished, I organize the slides such as I did recently (seven slides).

  • Self explanatory title with brief summary of the project (logo in top corner)
  • Introduction/Background (what the nonprofit does)
  • Importance of the project (impact to people and/or community)
  • Objective (where this project is going and how will it get there)
  • The Need (details about what is needed)
  • What the need will accomplish (relates back to the objective)
  • Summary with who to contact (it will be a sunshiny day in the end)

I do not mention dollars anywhere. Dollars allow for pre-judgements. The purpose of the presentation is to develop an interest in the project so the reader will ask for more information.

I make presentations that can be read. There may not be an opportunity to present it. A presentation can be given to people with influence over funding, such as politicians and government or business managers.

My presentation was to a politician who had influence with a foundation that excluded the nonprofit’s mission area. Maybe with a little push by the politician, a door could be opened, hopefully.