Readers Ponzi Scheme

There’s always someone telling you about a book they read, how great it is, and how you should read it too. Have you ever stopped to consider how that works? The person who gets you to read a book is …

  • … more up-to-date than you.
  • … better read than you.
  • … just plain cooler than you.

OK, maybe the last is a stretch, but being able to tell someone about a great book they haven’t read conveys some alpha-dominant reader traits. This separates the avant-garde reader from the guy or girl who chases down bestsellers when the movie comes out. The former is a trendsetter, the latter a trend chaser.

So how do you get in at the ground level? How do you become the one people turn to for book advice?

The Book Ponzi Scheme

This Ponzi scheme has nothing to do with money and everything to do with your credibility as a reader. The methodology is similar though. In the Ponzi scheme, the initial investors want the infusion of money from later investors to fuel their profits. For a reader, you invest early in a book or series, and become cooler the more other people read it.

It starts with a simple premise: read a good book no one (or hardly anyone) has heard of. Then you do two things:

  • Review it (preferable on Amazon and Goodreads)
  • Tell other people about it

Amazon in particular is good for latching on to one early, well-written review, and having it hold its place atop the list of reviews for a given book. It’s all based on people finding your review “helpful.” And the one most likely to help them is the one already on top.  By being the one to start on top, if your review was any good, you have a fair chance to stay there for a long time. When you point people to the book, they’re going to see your name (or at least the name you use for reviews) up there at the top.

Now there are lesser glories to be had as well. It doesn’t all go to the very top of the food chain. Other reviews from the early goings of a book hang around as well. Some of them may even come from the friends you recommended it to.

The Targets

Let’s face it, there’s no glory to be had chasing the latest fad. By the time something is popular, it’s already too late. You can’t look at bestseller lists, you can look for books that are already being made into movies and getting recommended by TV celebrities. You need to look at the new books lists. You need to get on mailing lists for authors, and find out ahead of time when books are coming. Better yet (and this is the gold mine), get yourself Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books, or beta read them. This will put you in a position to review and recommend books before they are even available to the general public.

The Payoff

Well, I already promised you that there was no money involved, so why do it? Well, you can’t buy coolness. If you want to make a name for yourself as a reader, you’ve got to go where few readers have gone before.