The Importance of Creating Reader Experience


B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, in a Harvard Business Review article wrote, “But experiences are not exclusively about entertainment; companies stage an experience whenever they engage customers in a personal, memorable way.”[1]

I’d like to slightly change their quote to read, “ . . .authors stage an experience whenever they engage readers in a personal, memorable way.”

It’s my strong conviction that people expect us to give them a positive experience when they read our material (or hear us speak as this applies to presenting and speaking as well). They are consumers and as such they consume material and it’s up to us to engage them in a very personal and memorable way. Our consumers, our readers, want authors to consistently surprise and delight them and create an emotional bond with them. Yes, it’s a tall order, but once that special bond is created, consumers will work hard to remain loyal and spread the word about our books.

Here’s some ideas (call them touchpoints) to help you create this experience:

  • Cover design. At the height of direct-
    mail catalogs one company had a way of bringing the consumer “into” the merchandise. Lands End’s photography of people using and wearing their products was emotional. You wanted to have that feeling portrayed in those photos and you knew it was the product. They made quality products and served you hassle free, but the photos created the emotional experience. Your covers need to do the same. You have 5 seconds to help someone emotionally connect with your title. Use the cover to create the initial experience and touchpoint,
  • Interior Design. Too often books look like a term paper instead of something that engages the reader into a experience. And, design doesn’t need to be limited to printed books, interior design is important for eBooks as well. Ask yourself, “How does my design create a positive experience for my reader?” Is it open? Friendly? Or is the type cramped. Are you chapters tomes or easily digested? Have you broken text with headings and insets? Or, does text just keep flowing as a swollen river?
  • Social media. Are you connecting? Are you continuing the reader’s journey with Blog posts and comments on social media that are memorable and help you reach out to your readers?

Remember, the ultimate goal of using these touchpoints and creating a loyalty-based experience is to draw a circle around your consumers—your readers. You are developing a “tribe” in the words of Seth Godin—a group of loyalists who can’t wait for your next book because the experience they had with this book was so delightful and remarkable.




[1] B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, “Welcome to the Business Economy,” Harvard Business Review, July–August 1998


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