Though I am a writer…I was a reader first, so I have been on both sides of the fence. (The grass is not greener, its just a different shade of brown.) Writers are always in a lather to discover the one elusive thing or short list of things that readers are looking for in a book. This one thing doesn’t exist. Even for me…There is no one specific way that I pick all the books I read. It’s a combination of things. Sometimes for inexplicable reasons, I go on a bender reading a certain genre (this could last for months or years). There truly is no rhyme or reason to it. However, here are some of things that might entice be into reading a book….
Intriguing, and well-written Premise. I say well-written because I’ve actually read the premise of some books and was totally clueless afterward. Some authors write the premise to be cryptic, but really its non-informative to the point where there’s not even enough info there to make a decision. Or its confusing as to what the subject matter is. Some books, I couldn’t even determine what the genre of the book was. The worse offenders are premises I read on Blog tour sign-up pages. Some of them are so awful until I honestly have no clue if I want to read/review the book or not. One I read was just a bunch of questions…meant to invoke curiosity. It didn’t. Another one used short two to three words sentences throughout...not sure why. I even read one that was just a character’s thoughts written out. I know its hard, I struggled with writing my own premise to both my books…but its very important to have, because its how I (and a lot of other readers) choose the books they buy and read.
A Pretty Cover. This one is not so true anymore. I mean, pretty covers still catch my eye at the same rate, but I don’t buy/read the book based solely on this nearly as much as I used to. (I been burned a few too many times). I will say this though…a pretty cover will guarantee that I read the premise and in some causes, the sample chapter. So, for me, its still worth it to spend some time on cover design. Cause, it will get you noticed…storyline/premise has to do the rest.
An Ugly or Bizarre Cover. I know, this is odd, but I am honestly just as intrigued by a weird, hideous or weirdly hideous cover as I am by a pretty one. It’s the mundane ones in between that will get you ignored…in my opinion. Like the clichéd ones, that everyone’s seen a million times. Avoid those. Go for the eye-catching, the weird or the ridiculous. That’s what gets my attention, as a reader.
A Scandalous Title. Forget the cover…sometimes just the title can get me hooked. Examples, “Unzipped” by Lois Greiman and “The Naked Duke” by Sally Mackenzie. I was book browsing…and these titles stopped me in my tracks. I bought them on the spot and now I’m on #8 in Greiman’s “Un” series…and have read all the “Naked” series. Both are hilarious!
Mixed Reviews. I know this one is odd too. But I honestly am pretty skeptical of a book that only has glowing reviews, with nary a bad word to say. I am generally more persuaded by mixed reviews. I read both the good and the bad…if the bad ones point out stupid or nitpicky things, I ignore them and read the book. One bad review I read, the reviewer admitted that she/he hadn’t read the book but that she/he was turned off by the fact that the author had described the hero as “alpha” but that the book was not about shape-shifters…claiming that this was ‘misleading’. I immediately ignored this review. I know that authors get bent out of shape by bad, unfair, or weird reviews but really I don’t think they should worry so much. Readers are pretty savvy…and probably ignore the worse offenders…I know I do.
A Killer Prologue – I adore prologues. Honestly, I prefer reading them over the first chapter because they tend to give a short little glimpse at the larger work, whereas Chapter 1 has to do set-up stuff that is less representative of the rest of the book). Prologues are a quick way to get a feel for the tone of the book, the storyline and its possibilities…and the writer’s style. An intriguing prologue is all it takes sometimes for me. On the opposite side of that…I have been equally turned off by overlong, confusing, or lackluster prologues. So, it’s a double-edged sword. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…a prologue is like a movie trailer. Its an advertisement of the book. If its too long, confusing, random or any number of other negative adjectives, it will kill interest in reading the rest of the book quicker than anything else.
A Decent First Chapter – I didn’t used to even read the first chapter “sneak peaks” that online booksellers like Amazon, Smashwords, and B&N provide, but I’ve been duped so much down through the years by lovely front covers and expertly written back cover blurbs, only to crack open the book to a nasty surprise. Now, I always read the first chapter to make sure that the book is something that I want to read (esp. in absence of a prologue). I have dodged many a bullet this way…and found several gems also. However, I’m much less judgmental when it comes to 1st chapters (as opposed to prologues). I use them more or less to eliminate than to choose. Its doesn’t have to be perfect because I know as a writer how hard it is to get things off the ground (intros, descriptions, settings, etc), but it should show the potential of the book. For example: Let’s say I’m interested, but my foot’s right on the line. I’ll read the first chapter and find out its written in 1st person narrative (a personal pet peeve), I might pass on it. Or, my foot’s on the line because the premise is only semi-interesting…and then I read the first chapter and its this explosively interesting scene (I’ve had this happen)…yeah, I’m reading it.
Interesting Character Quotes – Sometimes these come as part of the back cover blurb…other times I see them as ad images blinking on Amazon, Goodreads, or sometimes as teasers on the author’s blog/website or part of the banner/teasers in Blog tours, etc. I’m not advocating shelling out money for any of these things…but, I will say this, an interesting or intriguing character quote or two HAS caught my eye a time or two. Enough so that I clicked and read the full ad or followed the link to the book’s premise. I’ve never actually read a book based solely on a character quote that caught my eye…but I’m not ruling it out.
Attractive, Informative Author’s Website/Blog – If I am considering a book written by an author that I have either never read before…and/or never heard of before, then I generally always drop around their blog or website so I can get a feel for their writing style and see if they have other books that I might be interested in…helps me decide if I want to take a chance on them/their book. Also, if the author does not have a website or blog…or if its woefully outdated or has lots of missing info, broken links, useless stuff on there (Ads & pop-ups)…I generally am much less likely to take a chance on their book. In the same way that I would be skeptical of any business (however small) that had absolutely NO web presence at all. Ads and pop-ups annoy me. (If the ads/pop-ups are book related, they annoy me less than say a shampoo ad.) Honestly, though, if the site is attractive and informative, with stuff I like and have interest in reading, I just endure. But if the site is clunky with no info, bios, posts, book lists, etc…and on top of that lots of pop-up ads…<Ugh>.
Random Mood, Event, or Inclination which alters my normal reading preferences/habits– This could be anything from a bout of illness or injury that traps me in bed with nothing to do but read all day….to sitting on a long flight only to learn that I forgot my book in the car and borrowing something to read from my left/right neighbor. Who knows. But generally with this one…my threshold for what I read gets lowered just a tad, which means…anything goes. It is times likes these…unpredictable…when I am the most open to suggestion, new authors/series, etc. This is the mood to catch me in. Its rare but it happens.
D. Alyce Domain
We hope you liked her instight into her book choices! While you're here, why don't you stop by her blog and check out the post Kailei wrote for her: Kailei's View on Cliffhangers. Make sure you guys check out D.'s book, Dominic's Nemesis, as well! It's queued up for a review right now.
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