Monday, April 29, 2019

What Makes You Take a Chance on a Book?

What is it that makes you download a book by an author you've never heard of?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  From a writer standpoint, I'm trying to figure out why people buy or don't buy my books.  Is it the title?  The cover?  The blurb?  What mysterious thing is driving sales or driving them away?

Let's take Unequal for example.  Sales of that book have been incredibly slow.  Every time I hand someone a postcard for Unequal, they ooh and aah over the cover image.  So, in that case, it probably isn't that.  I think the blurb sounds interesting and like something I'd want to investigate further, but that's probably just me.  I hand out these postcards and the oohing and aahing commences, but then I tell them the genre and their eyes glaze over.  Dystopian might not be the target genre for people around here.  Perhaps it's not the target genre for most anywhere.  But I suspected that going in.  Dystopian isn't everyone's cup of coffee.

As a reader, I've been thinking about what makes me download certain books over others.  The cover grabs my attention, for one.  Then I read the blurb.  Then I read more about the author and some of the reviews and if everything lines up just right, I snag the book.

Except there's more to it than that because I've set certain constraints.  Right now, it pretty much has to be free.  And there's the 'new to me and underappreciated' thing.  If I'm picking up a new-to-me author, the book has to have less than 50 reviews.  More than that, 90% of the time I walk on by.  Weird, I know, but that's where I'm at right now. 

And the cover doesn't always have to grab my attention in a good way.  I recently downloaded a book that's cover was...  well, let's just say it kind of creeps me out and it's not a creepy sort of book.  In that case, the title grabbed me and the blurb held me.  But the cover did what it needed to do.  It made me stop scrolling to read more.

So, here I am putting it out to all of you.  What makes you stop and take a chance on a untried book/author?


  1. For me, it's reader recommendations on Goodreads. I've made my peace with Goodreads as a reader now (although it still makes me really uncomfortable as a writer). Frequently, I've read a book and *then* read the reviews on Goodreads and a reader will say 'good, but not as good as ______, which is similar.' Then I'll read _____. I read mainly for free too, but I request the books on either Overdrive (through my library website) or I request them through the library and get on the waitlist. I also follow reviewers on Goodreads when I find that we have similar tastes and will check out their recommendations.

  2. Hrmmmm. Good question. I'm sort of a rut reader. I have a list of auto-buy/auto-read authors. (AR authors mean I like them but I'm too cheap to buy them so I get them from the library.) I don't often deviate from that list because I know I'm not going to be disappointed. That said, an author doesn't always stay on my auto-buy list. I can let one mediocre book slid but if the next book fails to entertain? I'm done putting $$ there and go to the library. If the 3rd book is a flop? I'm done period.

    Now, as to new authors... I occasionally take a chance but usually because the book is free or I can read it free on Kindle Unlimited. Yes, I shell out that $$ each month and I probably spend more than I get in return, except when I find a new-to-me author with a KU backlist and then I binge and make up for the dry months. Like you, it's a combination olf things: cover and blurb, usually catching my eye on one of the numerous emails I get from book sites and publishers. I ALWAYS "look inside" on Amazon to see if I like the author's voice. If I read all the way to the end of the preview, I'll download it. If I don't, I usually walk away. So I guess that's what it comes down to--the author's voice. Because I'll read just about any genre as long as the story catches my attention and the characters are interesting.

    Oh, and if someone I know, whose reading taste is similar to mine, suggests a book, I'll give it a look see, especially if it isn't on my radar.

    On UNEQUAL and BLINK OF AN I? Try telling people they are near-future thrillers. Or alternate history suspense. Lots of people don't know what a dystopian novel is. The people who love stuff like The Hunger Games? Many of them don't realize the series is dystopian. Just a thought. :)

  3. What makes me stop and take a chance on an untried book/author? Well... they're usually a friend (either from a group I belong with or through social media) and I want to be supportive. Except, I've been burned a few times that way and then feel bad when I can't give them five stars! So I'm being a little more pickier nowadays. The blurb has to grab me enough to open the book. If the first chapter isn't available for me to read, then it's an automatic no. If it's only available on KU, it's an automatic no (I don't do Amazon, even for friends). I sometimes pay attention to the reviews (mainly those that didn't give it 5 stars), like when I'm on the fence. But if the first chapter grabs me and it's in a genre I love, I'll give it a try (and then pray I can give the author 4 or 5 stars!).

    Unfortunately, I have soooooo many favorite authors and lots of their books to read. But I do try to get a newbie read at least once a month, or once every other month. That's my goal this year.

  4. You might mention that dystopia is like Hunger Games and the Handmaid's Tale, or whatever the current Dystopians on TV are. Most people have no idea what the genre is.

    I'm a rut reader, too, but if a cover catches my attention I'll go to the blurb. If it's not too depressing/violent/icky I often pick it up.