Retention and Priming Concepts to Improve Read-through

Let’s say you went to your freezer and pulled out a pint of ice cream. The container had pictures of citrus fruits, palm trees, and a beach.  When you opened the container the ice cream inside was bright neon green.  You fill a bowl and sit down to enjoy your ice cream, and after giving it a taste, you find it is mint chocolate chip.

What were you expecting? From the description lime or some type of fruity sorbet. So, when you taste mint, you could be disappointed. Now if you like mint you could be fine with the flavor but just a bit confused. Certainly, the experience was not what you were expecting.

Authors understand that to market a book you need to meet genre expectations.  Readers look for cues in book covers and descriptions. These elements act as guideposts for the reader to find the appropriate products that meet their needs.

The concept is called priming, and it is how unconsciously you begin to set expectations for what is coming. Descriptive words, colors, and images “prime” expectations. Humans are hardwired to see patterns, and we can use this to help with RETENTION.

Before we talk more on Priming, let’s discuss the concept of RETENTION.

A self-directing marketing engine should guide a prospect to become a reader then nurture them to a fan, and eventually a direct customer.

The acronym A.R.N.P. stands for Attraction, Retention, Nurturing, and Pruning. In the RETENTION phase, you must get a prospect to become a reader. You may have ATTRACTED the prospect to get your book for free or even pay for it, but that doesn’t mean they will read it.


Think of it this way, if you were able to get everyone in the world a copy of your book your potential for readers is in the billions, but if none of them read the book, your readership is still zero. We need to do the extra work to get the prospect to decide to read the book, only then will they form an opinion if your other books are worth reading.

It is the RETENTION phase where your customer nurturing engine is focused on getting a prospect to read your book.

Is this your email sequence after a reader downloads a book?

Email 1: Here is my free book.

Email 2: Did you like my book?

Email 3: Let me tell you about me.

Email 4: Buy another of my books.

While better than nothing, it is just like a million other email sequences from authors focused on ATTRACTION. The sequence does not address the central question in the prospect’s mind “Why should I read your book now?”

To improve read through having a series of emails that help the reader to understand why they want to read your book is critical. While you are focused on the bookselling process, the buyer seeks to fulfill their interest in reading. This is where priming comes into play.

The above email sequence as a priming experience does not align with your book’s primary use of entertainment; instead, you are doing quite the opposite, you are delivering a sales subtext and tainting your book’s experience.

Instead what we want to do is get the prospect in the mood to be entertained by reading, then your book to be the book they choose to be entertained by.

So, what does priming have to do with retention?

Priming can be one of your most powerful tools for setting the readers expectations. Just like a search engine suggests items based on keywords, your brain seeks patterns and sets up for expected results (video on priming).  This begs the question could you use your first emails to a prospect to prime positive expectations while getting them to read your book?

So instead of;

Did you enjoy reading “Space Marines save Sarkis 4”?

Go with;

The space marine squad is waiting for you, Sarge! Without you, this band of hard fighting friends will be stuck here on earth and not be able to complete their mission on Sarkis 4. Sure, some will die, but with you, on the team, we’re sure to win.


“Space Marines save Sarkis 4” is another of (Author) books that captures the grit of aliens and the epic journey of Battlestar Galactica while engaging the intellect of readers by challenging the tried and true tropes. If this sounds like what you like to read, then move it up to the top of your reading pile.

The point of priming is to set the expectations, and you want to put your reader in the center of an immersive experience through your words. Begin your stage direction in the reader’s mind early and often. Use your emails to prime them what to think about your books.


If you would like to learn more about building a Fan Nurturing Engine, then check out the book Super Charge Your Fan Base.


Thinking about selling your books direct? Get a free copy of Direct Sales Unleashed.


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