Lola’s Advice: Why Exposure Makes a Difference

Posted February 1, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Advice / 42 Comments

Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Last month I talked about How to get More Reviews for Your Book, this week I am talking about exposure and why it can make a difference. In my job as Lola’s Blog Tours I still use some of the knowledge I learned during my uni study and the importance of exposure is one of those things. I might get a bit theoretical, but I personally love the theory of exposure and I think some people underestimate how important it is. Being a blog tour organizer I often hear from satisfied customers who loved my tours, but I’ve also heard some customers say they didn’t get enough sales. While I always hope authors see an increase in sales when they book a tour, I never focus on sales as the goal of a blog tour as I know the main goal from a blog tour isn’t sales, it’s exposure. That exposure might lead to sales, but it can take some time. Having done a psychology study and having majored in economic and consumer psychology I always thought that exposure is a pretty good goal to have for any marketing campaign, but I think many people underestimate the power of exposure. So that’s why I want to talk about exposure today. Exposure might lead to sales, it might not, it might take time, but what I do believe is that that exposure makes a difference.

What is exposure?

Simply said exposure is how you come in contact with products. You see an ad for a new product or brand then you get exposed to that product or brand. In consumer psychology exposure theories are given a lot of weight. Generally speaking the more you’ve been exposed to a brand or product, the more familiar that brand or product feels to you and the higher the chance you buy that product. When you feel more familiar with a product or brand you associate this with less risk and you’re more likely to buy that products. Exposure is a big part of the reason why we buy certain products. For example I always go to the same supermarket as I am familiar with it, I understand how they work and every supermarket of that chain gives the same feel, it feels familiar and I enjoy shopping there. Let’s take another example, there’s a new cleaning product called Product X. After seeing some ads for the product you have been exposed to this product. Then if you are in a supermarket one day and you are choosing a cleaning product because you don’t have a strong preference for that yet, you might be more likely to pick up Product X as it feels more familiar and customers prefer to buy products that are more familiar. So by being exposed to a product or brand you might be more likely to buy that product or brand or shop at that store etc. There are ofcourse circumstances where the effect is stronger or weaker, like if you always buy cleaning product B you won’t switch as easily to a new brand. I think for books this theory is applicable too. If you don’t know a book exists you can’t buy it and that’s where exposure comes in.

How to get More exposure for your book

When you’re focusing on more exposure for your book, you’re focusing on making sure your book get’s seen by as many people as possible as often as possible. Keep in mind that there is a limit, if you spam people with your book they might get annoyed and will be less likely to buy your book. That’s why it’s important not to overdo it.

  • Reviews. Reviews are one form of exposure. So by focusing on getting more reviews for your book you’re also working on exposure. Most reviewers post their reviews or links to their in multiple places, like book selling sites, social media sites, bookish sites like Goodreads and on their blog. Can you imagine how many people can hear about your book if a blogger reviews it? Which is one reason why reviews are so valuable.
  • Guest posts, interviews etc. You can contact bloggers for guest posts, interviews and such to make sure you can visit their blog talk about you and your blog. There are many blogs who accept interviews, guest posts and such and it might be worthwhile to contact blogs for that reason.
  • Blog Tours. Blog Tours are a great way to get more exposure as they focus on getting your book on multiple blogs. The nice thing is that you don’t have to do the work of contacting the bloggers yourself, which saves you time and effort. Although that also means you can’t decide on which blogs you’ll be featured. So if there is a blog you really want to get featured on it still might be handy to contact those yourself.
  • Social Media. Promoting your book on your own social media accounts and maybe get some of your followers or fans to share that post, pin, tweet etc. Social media is a good medium for promotion, although the downside can be that you get lost in the sea of information and posts. Still I think social media is an important part of your online presence and exposure strategy. Make sure not to overdo it and spam your followers, but you can definitely make them aware of your book. For example by posting about a release day, sharing great reviews it got, awesome sales or the next book you’re writing.
  • Ads. Ads might not always lead to more sales, but they contribute to exposure for your book, especially if you can book an ad on a popular blog with lots of visitors. There are also social media sites that accept ads, although make sure to read more about how ads work there before committing.

Exposure and buying books

Paperback Burying WaterWhen it comes to my own book buying habits I can also see the effect exposure and reviews have on me. When I see one fantastic review for a book I might add it to my to-read list on goodreads, but most likely I won’t buy it. After seeing a few great reviews for that book the chances increase I will add that book to my to-read list, although only if it’s a book I might be interested in. Sometimes only one review is enough to have me add a book to my to-read list, but often it takes hearing again and again about a book and then eventually I decide to give it a try. I remember seeing a book blitz post for a book on multiple blogs on the same day and deciding I wanted to buy the book. Another example of a book where this happened to me is Burying Water by K.A. Tucker. I am not a fan of memory loss stories so I dismissed the book at first, then I kept hearing good things about the book and kept seeing and eventually I added it to my to-read list and eventually bought it. This process almost took a whole year. A whole year from seeing the book and it’s sequels before I read it. So yes exposure works slowly, but it definitely can have an effect. I think exposure initially doesn’t give a big boast in sales, but more in intention of buying it or people adding it to their to-read or wishlist. Which can be very valuable as these are potential customers and they can change that intention into actually buying the book. Not many people will see a book and immediately decide to buy it, that’s probably only a small percentage. But the amount of people who get exposed to the book and then later decide to buy it, that’s were the power of exposure really lies. Same goes with those ads you see on tv or on billboards. You probably won’t see an ad for Pizza Restaurant A and decide to go there now, but next time you are looking takeout or to go dining at a restaurant it might pop into your mind and you might go there, that’s the power of exposure.

Exposure and blog tours

So let’s focus a bit more on blog tours and exposure. I think blog tours do not primarily lead to more sales, like I said before there might be some people who buy your book after seeing it once, but they are more likely to buy the book after seeing it multiple times. Blog tours do get your book and cover seen on multiple blogs. It makes sure more people know the book exists. I think that this is where tours shine, by getting knowledge of your book’s existence out there.

To show an example of the effect a blog tour can have, let’s do a little example. Say 20 bloggers participate in a blog tour, which is a reasonable expectation based on the tours I organized so far. And let’s say each of those bloggers have 1000 social media followers, ofcourse there are bloggers who have many more followers and also those who have less, but let’s say 1000 average for this example. Say for every posts during the tour 50 followers see it, I am assuming never all followers will see post, this depends on time you post about it, the season, how many people share it etc. But let’s set this number low and say at least 50 followers see the post or link about the tour on each blog. That means 20×50=1000 people hear about the book/tour. That are 1000 new people who hear about your book just by one blog tour. That are 1000 people who might not knew that book existed before then. The thing about exposure though is that it is hard to measure, you can’t measure how many new people have heard or seen your book during a tour. But I think exposure is the real power behind blog tours and I think exposure is very important. And I think exposure is one of the reasons why a blog tour can help authors and their books be seen. It’s why on my services page I focus on what a tour can do for an author in terms of exposure and reviews. After all you can’t buy a book you don’t know exists.

Authors, which methods do you use to get more exposure for your books? Do you think exposure is an important goal?

Bloggers, have you ever bought a book you wasn’t interested in at first after seeing it around the blogosphere often?

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42 responses to “Lola’s Advice: Why Exposure Makes a Difference

  1. Very true. People often don’t even realize how much their constant exposure to produces influence their purchases. It’s like how certain companies put A LOT of money in advertising, so people go with those products because it’s what they know. The thing is, it may not be the BEST product. Like Trojan condoms aren’t necessarily the best, but people know them from advertising. That goes for anything too.
    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted…The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda JonesMy Profile

    • Exposure is such a fascinating concept and it’s hard to measure and for people hard to realize the effect it has too. It’s a big part of why all those ads are effective. Never heard of Trojan condoms here, here it’s durex that everyone knows of. So I guess it can be pretty country specific too with products like that. And yes it might not be the best, but people buy what they know.

  2. I’ve definitely bought books based on seeing multiple reviews, that I otherwise would never have picked up (it’s true I have a lot of books I have bought and not read yet – but I’m getting there lol) and I’ve added plenty to my ‘maybe-read’ or ‘wishlist’ lists on Goodreads.

    And on the other side of things, too much hype puts me off books. I might read them eventually, but if something is suddenly EVERYWHERE chances are I’ll put off reading it for quite a while (or forever).
    Wattle recently posted…Guest Post – Book Review: Gone With the Wind by Margaret MitchellMy Profile

    • This is so interesting! Wattle, why does a lot of exposure put you off a book? Are there examples of those kinds of books you’ve ended up liking? Do you consider a book being made into a popular movie or TV show overexposure?

      • There are some very popular books which are hyped so much that it seems they are everywhere Or everyone seems to love a book and it can make me a bit hesistant to read a book at times. Like the Hunger Games for example, everyone loved it and I thought it wasn’t for me. In the end I did read it and enjoyed it though. Or The Selection, there was so much hype and drama surrounding that book I didn’t want to read it at first. Then later once the hype calmed down a bit I read the book and ended up enoying it.

        A book being made into a movie or tv show isn’t overexposure I think, I think is most of those cases people like it and it can bring some new fresh excitement and exposure to the book. And movies or tv shows are usually made once the hype surrounding the book has died out a bit already.

      • I think when there’s so much exposure it feels like it’s being pushed too hard, and like I’m being told what I should read. Particularly when everyone is freaking out about how good it is, and not giving a clue as to *why* it’s so good.

        The ones that come to mind immediately are Dangerous Girls (which I did eventually read, and I didn’t like it), Throne of Glass (I put it off for a long time, but ended up liking it – though not as much as some) and for a throwback, Harry Potter! A friend of mine was reading the first couple of books and I was all ‘aren’t they kids books?’ haha oops! I did read them when the first movie came out, and it’s probably the only series I’ve truly regretted ignoring.

        I think if a book is made into a movie pretty much straight after publication, that puts up a red flag for me of sorts. Dumplin is a book I haven’t read, because of all the hype and the movie deal. If it’s way after the fact (like…American Gods or something) then not so much, it feels more organic.
        Wattle recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #20My Profile

        • I know what you mean, Wattle. I used to love to discover new bands, but when everyone was talking about them it put me off. It was as if they were *my* band and I didn’t want all those people co-opting me. Hee hee!

          But yes, I understand that it begins to feel very corporate when a book is everywhere. You can feel manipulated. And I agree with you that some of the most hyped books are just poorly done. I’m not a fan of bestsellers, for example, although there are exceptions. Mostly I find the writing bad and the whole thing too product-y with the stuff on the charts. Also with many of the literary prizes.

      • I think, when a book is truly hyped up and has a massive fan-base, there’s a lot of pressure on a reader to enjoy the book. Yes, I’ve read books with a lot of hype, but, like Lola, I often wait for the initial whirlwind to die down before I’ll head in. ☺

    • Seeing multiple reviews of the same book can definitely make me mroe likely to buy it or add it to my to-read list. And yes I know what you mean about the big pile of boosk you bought but haven’t read yet.

      And I agree there’s also a thing as too much hype. Sometimes I don’t want to read a book just because it’s everywhere. But reviews of some of my favourite bloggers can still sway my opinion at times. Or I read it much later once the hype has calmed down.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Advice: Why Exposure Makes a DifferenceMy Profile

  3. I feel like reviews and ads are my most effective means of exposure. I try to always run a FB ad for one or more of my series, have sales and buy ads for them, and constantly solicit reviews. The reviews are the hard part because I can’t make anyone review my books! Lol. It just doesn’t work that way. But I can make FB ads and I can have sales. Those are all in my control. As for blog tours, I haven’t done one since I did my tour with you in early 2014. I think exposure is important too, but I had stayed away from blog tours for awhile because I wondered if bloggers were just screaming into the void. With FB cutting organic reach and readers getting overwhelmed by new books, I wondered how many people were even seeing new books. Your math is pretty right though, so I’ve been reconsidering it for my cozy mystery series. I’m not sure though! 🙂
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Sunday Update – January 31, 2016My Profile

    • I heard some good things about facebook ads and I heard some other authors who used them as well. I never have looked into facebook ads myself though.

      Reviews are harder and the only thing you can do is keep contacting people, netgalley/ review opps, offering review copies etc. But even then you can’t gaurantee that anyone will read and review your book. So it’s good to have some other means of exposure next to that.

      I thought it was nice to incude a math example, to make it a bit more concrete as exposure can be such a vague and difficult to measure concept.

      I am excited about the tour for your cozy mystery series :). I hope the tour will help build some excitement for the series.

    • I think an author can have a time line in mind for when they need the reviews in, for them to be most effective, and that’s something else they have only a small amount of control over. ☺

  4. Lola, is there a way to gauge how well a blog tour or other tactic has worked? S.J. says she’s afraid bloggers are screaming into the void. Is there any truth to that?

    • I wouldn’t know if there’s any real way to measure results, but looking at it from my side as a blogger/reader, I have had people add books to their TBR and, on occasion, immediately buy books based on my reviews. And I know I’ve done the same, added or eventually bought books all because I saw another blogger’s review. And I can say that seeing book on a blog, or even mentioned by someone I know on social media, even with a negative review, has much more of an affect on me than seeing an ad because I just tend to ignore those. But again, that’s just what I notice from my experiences.
      Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Cover Characteristics: Book Covers featuring SkylinesMy Profile

      • That’s really encouraging, Kristen!

        I know that I’m influenced by covers, but I’ve learned to be careful. I’ve been fooled by a pretty cover too often. 🙂 But you’re right that an interesting cover can get a reader’s attention in the first place. Titles too, though. There’s a book, or a series, I’ve noticed in my Goodreads feed that seems to be getting a lot of positive attention, and I really like the title, so I might actually try it even though it’s not the kind of thing I normally read.

      • Yes, I agree. From an author perspective, I once had one of my books reviewed on a highly-visited blog and experienced a boost in sales that day. The blogger also contacted me regarding it, to let me know how many had clicked through from her affiliate link, so it’s definitely a powerful exposure route for authors. ☺

        • Oh that’s nice to hear how one review on a highly visited blog can make such an impact. That does show the impact and effect reviews can have.

    • Like Kristen mentioned it’s almost impossible to mention the actual effect of a blog tour. You can’t measure exposure easily. And exposure is part of what makes blog tours so effective. It’s a slow and subtle process.

      On the other hand like Kristen mentioned I have heard people add books to their to-read list because they saw it on my blog and I have done the same when visiting other blogs. Reviews and posts on other people their blogs can make me want to read the book. I remember I grabbed some freebies after reading a review of them on kristen her blog ;). A book about a sea witch and one about vampires, and that are just the two I can remember off the top of my head.

  5. I love this topic, Lola. I have purchased so many books that I normally wouldn’t have because of bloggers either showcasing the books or reviewing them. As a blogger, I’ve had so many followers email me saying they that they purchased certain books based on my reviews or the blog tours I’ve featured.

    Having worked as a librarian, I know that blog tours and reviews influence what branch managers purchase. I’ve also learned that swag is a great way for authors to gain exposure. Librarians love to set out posters, bookmarks, postcards, etc. So, don’t forget to drop some swag off at the library or ask if they will put up a poster.
    Angela @Simply Angela recently posted…Quote-Tastic Monday: Dirty Ride by Chantal FernandoMy Profile

    • As a blogger I always think it’s one of the biggest compliments if someone buys or reads a book based on your recommendation. And yes I have added quite some books to my to-read list thansk to other bloggers or even bought them.

      I don’t know much about the library side of things, but that’s interesting to hear that even there the blog tours, reviews and exposure play a role. And that’s encouraging for authors to hear that librarians like to display posters and such.

  6. I learned some of these things when I majored in advertising, and I too have definitely noticed them applying to myself. For example, when I see a book cover once, I might think, “Oh, that’s kind of pretty,” but I’m not motivated enough to click on it. After seeing it a few times however, my curiosity gets the best of me, and I have to know more about it, so I’ll start reading the blurbs and reviews. And if I see it around enough, especially if I start learning more about it from reviews, I might finally decide to just buy it. And I’ve definitely found new possible books and added them to my TBR that I wouldn’t have known about if not for other bloggers. Exposure definitely has its benefits over time.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Cover Characteristics: Book Covers featuring SkylinesMy Profile

    • I wish I could’ve taken a few courses in advertising too, it’s so interesting. I only found out about my interest in marketing and such in my third year of psychology and am glad I did the economic and consumer psychology master as it was interesting to learn more about that topic. I didn’t realize you majored in advertising.

      And yes the first time you see abook you might not run out to grab it, but after a few times you might look up more info or you read review and add it to your to-read list. And I have a lot of books on my to-read lists too because I saw them on other blogs.

    • It’s amazing how seeing books often enough or reading good reviews for them can make us change our opinion and read/ buy said book.

  7. Exposure for authors is such a huge deal and is what will sell!! The biggest reason I will pick up a new author, is how often I see the title or author around. The more I see it, the more likely I am to pick that author up. Exposure like what you have talked about here, is good for any product really. I love all the tips you mentioned, and very useful to many authors trying to get more exposure for their books.

    • Thanks! Yes I agree, exposure is what will make a book sell, but it takes time. It’s not a quick and fast boast, but a slow and subtle climb. And indeed exposure works for every product, I tried to focus it here on books as that’s what authors write, but yes it works for everything.

  8. Bec

    I definitely am more likely to buy books I’ve seen around the blogosphere more often. From reviews and posts I’ve seen online, I know a lot about the book and whether or not the chances that I’ll like it are high. If I just pick up a random book in the store it’s harder to judge how likely I am to love it.
    Bec recently posted…Review: Burning Midnight by Will McIntoshMy Profile

    • Indeed, seeing it often not only helps to know about the book, but also can be handy for judging what the chances are that you will enjoy it.

  9. Exposure is definitely the way to go as far as driving toward the goal. Before blogs, I was influenced by word of mouth, displays at the library and book stores, or book club reads. Now with blog reviews and on-line store reviews, it is simpler to hear about books and keep them in front of me.

    My own habits are influenced by budget more than interest. I don’t have much discretionary income. So most of the time I have an interest in the book, but must put it on the wish list until I can afford it and even then, my wish list is packed with choices so it most likely will be the book that someone worked hard to keep in my mind’s eye the most (exposure, as you call it) that I end up purchasing. Like you, it’s probably not the first or even the second time I see it that gets me to buy, but with time and continued positive feedback, I will probably purchase and read it and review it. 🙂
    Sophia Rose recently posted…#TGPUL with Rebecca Moreán – We’ve Got ThisMy Profile

    • I agree now with blogs and reviews it’s easier to hear about books and keep hearign about them to keep them in front of you. It definitely made finding new books to read easier.

      Sadly I know exactly what you mean about how your buying habits are influenced by budget more than interest, I am the same. It’s part of the reason why I get so many books from netgalley and for review. And when I do have money to spend on books I am really picky about what I buy. I do add a lot of books on my wishlist or to-read list on Goodreads, as that way at least I can remember them. And exposure can definitely influence whether I buy a book or not, sometimes seeing a book once can be enough, but often seeing it multiple times can make me eventually decide to give a book a try if at first I wasn’t sure if I wnated to read.

  10. Red Iza

    I’ve already bought a book I wasn’t really keen to read because I’d seen it everywhere, but mostly because I’ve read the enthusiastic reviews. Sometimes I loved the book, sometimes I didn’t. However, too much exposure can drive people away – when you hear too much about a novel (buzz), you might begin to wonder if it’s not overrated, it happened to me with Colleen Hoover (don’t hit me !) and The girl on the train. I saw what people saw in those books but I didn’t click. I don’t think I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t heard so much about them.

    • I agree reviews can be quite convincing especially if they are by someone you know. And yes sometimes there is too much buzz and expectations can sometimes ruin a book for me. Like you said you enjoyed the book less than you thought you would because you heard so many good things about them and expected more, while without those expectations you probably would’ve enjoyed it more.

  11. I have come into contact with and bought so many books because of great reviews I’ve seen. Nowadays, I almost always check Goodreads reviews before buying books, leading me to standing in the middle of the bookshop trying to use their rubbish wifi to check them out.I definitely look towards reviews more than I look towards adverts now, especially when it’s a super popular book.
    Lauren @ My Expanding Bookshelf recently posted…2016 Reading Challenges Update – JanuaryMy Profile

    • Same here I look more to reviews than adverts, although I also heard of authors having succes with ads, so I think those can be effective as well. I buy most of my books online, so then it’s easy to go to goodreads and look up some reviews first.

  12. Great post! Authors, especially new ones, need visibility and exposure. I wasn’t really much into YA fantasy (unless if it was urban fantasy), but I kept seeing so many blog reviews about Six of Crows that I grew increasingly interested and I made up my mind about buying it during Christmas.

    • I agree visibility and exposure is very important for authors. And indeed seeing a book in a genre you don’t read as much in on other blogs frequently can make you pick it up. That happened to me with Cinder, I normally don’t read the genre, but I added that one to my to-read list.

  13. Some very good points, Lola! Exposure is so dang important. I’m one who rarely buys right away but I will by later on. Mainly because I have so many on my piles right now for the blog that I don’t like to buy until I’m ready to read. But books will go on my Goodreads and Amazon wishlist when I see them on blogs and I’ll snag them later on. So an immediate sale…usually not but it does happen 🙂
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Sign Up: Spring Fling Giveaway Hop {April 15}My Profile

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