How Do You Build Your TBR Pile?

I’ve written about this before, but I’m wondering what makes you, as a reader and/or fellow author, pick up a book to read?

There was a debate in one of the Facebook groups to which I belong—how much do reviews matter? By which was meant Amazon reviews, reviews left by general readers. Do you take them into account when choosing a book?

When posed with this question, I tried to mentally go step-by-step through my process. There are variations depending on whether I’m seeing the book online or in the store or library. After all, a library requires less commitment from me than spending money on a book.

Okay, so, best I can tell, here’s how it works for me in a store or at the library:

  1. I see a book. The cover and/or title are interesting.
  2. I pick it up and read the blurb on the back. If that sounds promising…
  3. I open to the first page and read a little bit of the actual book. If it’s good…
  4. I borrow or buy the book.

Now for online books I think it’s harder to sell me. Which sounds weird, right. But the product is not right in front of me, even if it’s an ebook. It’s not something I’m picking up and handling. So say I’m browsing Amazon and I maybe see something in the “Recommended” section*:

  1. The cover and/or title are interesting.
  2. I glance at the star rating. Here is where I may or may not continue. I’m pretty forgiving, but if the star rating is less than 3, I probably won’t bother. Still, if the cover is pretty enough, I might still look to see if I can figure out why the rating is so low.
  3. I click and read the blurb. This will usually give me a sense of whether the writer can actually write. If the blurb is a wreck, forget it. If the blurb is good…
  4. I click the “Look Inside.” If there’s no Look Inside, I probably won’t buy. I don’t want a nasty surprise. If the sample is good…
  5. I buy the book.

Extra points for books I’ve heard of or seen around the ‘net. They say we need to see things repeatedly some 7-10 times before we’ll take them seriously, which means getting your book in front of readers about a dozen times (and in different places) is necessary to boost sales.

And of course I’m more likely to risk 99 cents on an unknown author than $4.99. So while I agree we shouldn’t devalue our work, I think having at least one free or less expensive book makes a nice gateway for potential readers.

So how do you find books to read? What’s your process for selecting a book?

*On Amazon there’s so much content that it’s pretty impossible to find a book unless you already know what you’re looking for, or the recommendations are good. If you’re an author, few people are going to stumble across your book by some blessed accident. Which is why you need to do all you can to be where readers will find you.

One thought on “How Do You Build Your TBR Pile?”

  1. My process is like yours. I’m more likely to borrow a book by someone I don’t know than buy it. I do look at reviews, and I do keep in mind not everyone is going to like a book, but the higher the rating, the more likely I am to take a chance on it.

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