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Big Ideas. Short Books.

Want the rewards of becoming a published author? START HERE

Founded by Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book

Context vs. content: what sells your book?

Context is one of those words that sparks a multidimensional image in your head. That is key to understanding why context (who, where, how, what, why) has as much to do with the success or popularity of a new book as does the actual content of that book.

Who recommended the book to you? That counts for a lot. You tend to trust recommendations from friends who are discerning and on top of what’s new.

Where did you hear about the book? Were you online, on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, where it required no more than a couple of clicks to download the book in digital format to your favorite e-reader? Were you reading a print newspaper or an in-flight magazine?

How do you prefer to read a book? Are you comfortable with digital reading? How important is instant gratification when you hear about a new book that captures your interest? If you prefer print, it means a trip to the bookstore (if there is still one open near you). Or ordering from Amazon and waiting a couple of days for delivery. That’s OK if it’s your preference.

What was the message about the book, its title or perhaps the design of the cover that grabbed you?

"[There] will be a new set of cues. We’ll look a lot harder for reviews and cover art and inbound links."
– Seth Godin writing on The Domino Project blog, Dec. 16, 2011

Why did you decide to purchase this book right now? Was it the $.99 price? Was it the availability of an (instant) free sample?

Context is linked to reading device

How and Why are the most important pieces of context these days. And they are device dependent. After hearing about your book, online or off, how fast can readers get their hands on it? About 5 seconds if it’s a Kindle eBook. Readers can dive in via multiple devices: smartphones, iPad, Kindle Cloud Reader and Kindle. That’s why our Beta Authors are writing a short Kindle eBook. To shorten the distance between author and reader.

There are too many steps (hurdles) to start reading if you post a short book to Scribd, for example. You may be offering it in different e-reader formats (.mobi for Kindle, .epub for almost everything else, PDF for those not using e-readers) but you are asking your readers to do extra work. Each format has to be downloaded and/or uploaded to its respective device.

* Illustration credit: Context drawing above courtesy of Matt Jones of Berg design consultancy in London.


  • Tinu

    This is so true. I barely think about getting a book on Kindle. Even when I only had the iPod Touch app. As fas as content, you download the sample chapter and it’s all the persuasion to buy — or not – that you need. If you weren’t ready at the time it sits there as a perpetual to-do…. Read or not? Buy or delete?

    Great thoughts, Debbie.

  • Debbie Weil

    Yay, Tinu! I think yours is the first comment on the Voxie blog. Thanks for feedback.

    And BTW, re plugging the Kindle as a delivery device, I don’t own any Amazon stock. I’m being practical and experiential about where we are right now with book consumption.

    • Tinu

      I totally get that. There was a kind of watershed moment with the latest Kindle and the price drop of the earlier models. I’m seeing non-techies with it much more frequently now. That locks it for me.

    • Laura Childs

      “I don’t own any Amazon stock” – it would be the wisest move anyone with the money ever made IMO.

      Amazon – easy to share links in social media, easily published content by an author, various ways to purchase and consume content by the readers. Oh – let’s not forget the new app segment of Amazon! I have a few ‘app books’ testing the waters right now.

      • Tinu

        Is am so behind the times – App book? Do tell…

        • Laura Childs

          Here’s one of mine on the Android marketplace: and there’s a few on Amazon’s Android Marketplace as well. Most of my ebooks I’ve converted into Kindle content, then had Steve Holt from SquiddleBooks convert into apps for me. The app itself is a flip book – operates much the same as a Kindle book.

          • Tinu

            I’m on the Kindle crack so I’ll have a look at that and on Android.

  • Jill Foster

    @debbie – a few things: the description of your Beta Author Boost course was so alluring. My husband, who does not toss out compliments, really liked it too and said: “So Honey could you write something like Debbie??” It was motivating and intimidating all at once! About the Kindle — it arrived in my life for the first time ever last month; it’s like the long lost ‘brain mate.’ It is causing me to take a closer look at context vs content, with more scrutiny than in recent years. Writing a true, blue Kindle ebook is really on the mind now.

    • Debbie Weil

      Jill, your comment makes my day – nay, the rest of 2011. Here’s to great things for all of us in 2012. Exciting, isn’t it?!

      • Tinu

        Quite exciting. I’m so there the next time you do the Beta Authors. Right up my alley.

        • Debbie Weil

          oooo stay tuned – ! early 2012.

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