guide to influencing book lovers blog title

An Author’s guide to influencing book lovers


“If you build it, he will come”, goes the famous quote from the 1989 classic, Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.

The business world version of the quote goes, “If you build it, they will come.”

It is meant to caution entrepreneurs from assuming they just need to build a world class product and the buyers will come looking for it. Ignoring the time, effort and money required marketing and sales.

The maxim applies to authors too. Simply directing potential buyers to your Amazon book page or even your website may not really lead to desired results.

Brands command a premium because they deliver a sense of perceived value before the buyer makes a purchase. The brand then confirms the buyer’s perception into actual value after purchase.

This interaction results into a trust based relationship between a brand and the buyer.

When a potential buyer visits your Amazon author page or your website, there are factors at play that decide whether that potential is going to result into a benefit for you or not.

If you miss the opportunity to take the first step towards a trust based author-audience relationship, you probably lost a life long fan of your work.

A basic understanding of consumer psychology and taking steps to implementing it can help indie authors deliver a great user experience but also improve their sales metrics in the long run.

In this post we discuss 6 psychology principles first introduced by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his best-selling book, Influence: The Power of Persuasion.

You will learn how to put these 6 principles to use on your website or by other means so as to increase the chances of converting your potential buyer into an actual buyer.

#1 Reciprocity Principle

If someone you knew, not that well, invited you to a party, will you do the same later even if that person is just an acquaintance?

You will. I would too. And this part of human behavior is behind the first principle of influence – Reciprocity.

If you do something for me, I will be naturally inclined to return the favor. It’s just human courtesy. Manners as our parents would like to call it.

Reciprocity Application

Decide on offering something of real value, depending on the category, genre, topic that you’ve addressed.

The most common form of reciprocity that is ideal for authors is to offer a first few chapters of their book for free.

This is a good strategy for new authors especially. Dr. Cialdini too does it as you can notice from the image below.

reciprocity example


For non-fiction authors, this could be a free phone call or an invite to an exclusive 1-hour webinar where you share your secrets of success – be it weight loss, running marathons, passive income, career guidance or any other topic that matches the topic of your book.

If you are willing to spend, you can also do a gift card or a themed mug.

book promotion ideas

Source: Cheryl Bradshaw Facebook page

#2 Commitment and Consistency Principle

The basic premise of the principle is that people like to be consistent with things they have previously said or done.

I’ve noticed this principle at play among friends and family (me included) during debates on hot topics in the news or politics.

Those with a bias towards a line of thought continue to keep peddling their justification even in the light of contrasting evidence.

In the book, Dr. Cialdini mentions of a study conducted among health centers. The participating health centers were able to reduce missed appointments by 18% simply by asking the patients instead of the staff to write the next appointment on the appointment card.

Commitment and Consistency Application

The application of this principle can be closely tied to the action implemented in the reciprocity principle above.

For example, say you are offering a free download of the first 3 chapters of your upcoming romantic thriller.

You’ll already have the email id of those readers who’ve shown interest and downloaded the sample.

This is the first step to a small commitment they’ve made.

Now after a couple of days, you can send a personalized email to these interested readers thanking them and asking them if they’re open to have you add them to the book launch annoucement for a priviledged few.

Those who agree have taken a second step towards commitment and are now also showing consistent behavior.

The last step could be the actual book launch announcement email, not very far away in time from when they agreed to join the list.

You can throw in a special discount coupon or a meet and greet exclusive invite to your book launch party, maybe a gift card and have them pleasantly surprised.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

#3 Social Proof Principle

‘Am I the only idiot doing this?’ or some version of this phrase crosses your mind, especially when you are about to take out your wallet.

Buyers are uncertain, cynical social animals. They need a way to reassure themselves that they are in consensus with the behavior of others like them.

Two of the most effective tools deployed by online businesses to nudge a buyer closer to the buying stage are product ratings and customer reviews or testimonials.

social proof for book marketing


Social Proof Application

We admit. It is easier said than done. There are easier ways out but we recommend against it.

For a fiction author, building a social proof on e-commerce platforms like Amazon takes some time. More if you are self-published.

But that doesn’t mean its impossible.

Let’s extend the commitment and consistency example we discussed above a bit further.

Would you say it would be a good idea, to send another personalized email to the cohort in your book launch list asking for a review on Amazon if they bought your book?

I say, that is a fantabulous idea!

The previous two princples provide the feed for your readers to take the required action.

Agreed. This approach takes time, but it is far more reliable and rock solid in the long run.

There are other approaches too for which you’ll need to start working much before its time for your book launch.

In short, start networking with others in the same genre, book bloggers, facebook groups and other such online networks.

You can submit your book to some popular book blogging sites. A few we like are listed below:

  1. – this website is a community of book bloggers organized by genre.
  2. – this is a reference site for YA book blogs.
  3. – one of the most comprehensive list of indie reviewers
  4. – a community of bloggers in India. They also have book review bloggers of board
  5. – a team of young book lovers from India who’ll help you reach the right book bloggers for your genre – for a fee of course.

It goes without saying, that these reviews / testimonials need to go wherever possible – book front matter, Amazon product description, back cover and most importantly your website.

testimonial example

Source: WP Help Club

#4 Liking Principle

The chapter in the book begins with a quote from Clarence Darrow an American Lawyer, “The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client.”

The author posits that people are more likely to say ‘yes’ to requests from someone they know or like.

If I were to ask you to share this article with someone you know may benefit from, you may or may not.

But if I got your friend to ask you to do that, then would you? Most likely you will.

The author introduces several factors that play a role in likeability – physical attractiveness, similarity, compliments, contact and cooperation and finally conditioning and association.

Liking Application

You can’t get someone to like you with a ‘Like’ button on your social media page or your website.

Though there is this strange thing about people that I’ve noticed. We tend to start liking authors (or creators and artists in other field of work) if we like and enjoy their work.

For new authors and even at times for published ones, this is going to take some time and cannot be just switched on like a feature on some software.

Although you are a stranger to a future fan who happens to visit your website, start with some basic stuff on your website to help her get to know you. A good about page is the best way to get started.

About Page

The importance of an about page has been written an umpteen number of times by Internet marketing experts.

By some account, the about page is the 3rd most visited page on a website. Almost every indie author with a website has an about page, and write it the way they deem fit.

But don’t forget to put pictures – not the one’s you used for your passport or driving license.

bella andre about page

Source: Bella Andre Author website


You can also try something different. Checkout Ashwin Sanghi’s about page timeline with some witty text.

Ashwin Sanghi about page

Source: Ashwin Sanghi author website

# 5 The Authority Principle

Imagine you are looking for a course on writing skills, you come across a course by me. You check out the page and I have everything in place, student testimonials, reviews and ratings.

And then you come across a course by someone like J.K.Rowling at 3-4x the price at which I was offering the same course.

Which one would you pay for? No prizes for guessing.

This is the power of authority and the 5th principle discussed in the book.

The principle rests on the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeble experts. One of the reasons I bought and read the book I’m discussing right now is because of the credibility of the author.

Celebrity endorsements is one form of Authority principle in action in several television commercials.

Authority Application

Authority as a principle is ideally suited for non-fiction writers instead of fiction. Though that doesn’t mean it is totally irrelevant.

Paid media such as print and television are known to give a tremendous leverage in building one’s authority.

But we don’t have that kind of budget to hire a PR agency to put our headshot on primtime television, right? What choices do we have to build authority?

There are a few if you have the patience and the perseverance to stay the course.

Research websites of existing authorities in your subject area for a start.

For example, if your bio demonstrates solid authority over a subject matter given your education and experience, use it effectively on your website.

deepak chopra bio

Source: Deepak Chopra Author website

Active presence on social media, especially LinkedIn. Readup on how to use LinkedIn to build authority for your non-fiction work. LinkedIn is one of the most

LinkedIn is one of the most underutlized power house that many don’t know how to use right (and we’ll plan to cover it in the near future).

Youtube is another powerful medium to build authority if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Dr. Eric Berg build a dedicated subscriber base of over 700K for his Youtube channel over time.

Imagine the sales of his new book, The New Body Type.

eric berg youtube

Source: Youtube

#6 Scarcity Principle

Of all the principles Dr. Cialdini discusses in his book, this in my view is the oldest and most used.

Remember those “Hurry While The Stocks Last!” classifieds? Or those coupons for a limited period of time?

Well, guess what they worked then and they work now. In some cases its just that the form has changed.

Airlines do it with seats, hotels do it with rooms, restaurants do it with food, Amazon does with books. Everyone does it. We know it. But it still works.

Scarcity Application

We really don’t think we need to explain this in great detail. However, though this principle is known to work but for it to truly work use it sparsely and make it truly authentic.

For example, if you are running a promotional offer it needs to have some limitation. This limitation could take the form of time (no. of days) or units (no. of copies) or some other form.

It need not necessarily be just about your books.

For example, it could be a free giveaway of book themed or author signed souvenir.

As a non-fiction author you may want to run a promotion offering free phone call consultation or exclusive entry to a 60-minute webinar on a topic that addresses a very immediate need of the buyer.

There are no canned strategies here. Experiment different ideas, learn and improve.


We hope we’re able to show you the actual tactics to use and not just the theory on the art of influencing your target readers.

Make no mistakes, we are suggesting you become a snake oil salesman,  neither is Dr. Cialdini.

Your readers will see through the shit you try and them and the results will be equally disastrous if you are not in it for the quick buck.

We strongly recommend you buy the back. There are tons of other ideas you’ll get including examples, results of experiments, anecdotes and much more for you to read, learn from and get inspired.

Now go and influence thy readers.


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