There are several things that turn me off to a book before I even get to the first page. I try not to be too judgmental, but I can only read so many books in a year and so I have my own way of picking out which ones I want to take the time to read.
There is an absolutely insane number of books published every year (according to Forbes, in the United States alone roughly 600,000 to 1 million) which means there are a lot of books I need to sort through to find the right ones. Between sales, giveaways, publisher distribution sites like NetGalley and Edelweiss, and the thousands of free kindle books online I am drowning in books.
Here are five major factors that go into whether or not I decide to read a book.
This is the very first and most obvious issue that will turn me away from a book. If the book’s synopsis is riddled with errors, the entire book likely will be too. Hiring a professional editor can be expensive, I know, but a book is a representation of the author. This is especially important for indie authors that don’t have the advertising perks that come with a publisher. It never hurts to put in the extra bit of effort to correct mistakes, especially when trying to stand out among the sea of other books out there.
Synopsis that gives away too much
There have been times where I’ve been reading a synopsis and it sounds marvelous after the first couple of lines. Then, as I keep reading, I end up feeling like I’ve already read the entire book, because a large portion of the plot has basically been given away. Some even go as far as to tell me there is a twist at the ending, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a surprise twist to begin with. A good synopsis is supposed to be an appetizer for what’s to come, not a cliff notes version of the story. Save some of the good stuff for the actual book, give readers something to savor while they read.
By that same token, I’ve seen some exceptionally long book descriptions out there. Some will even go as far to introduce every single character in the main cast. Fine if it’s one or two characters, but if there’s more than that it’s best to let the book introduce these characters within the work itself.
Comparisons to other books and authors
This author has been described as the next William Faulkner!
If you love Stephen King, you’ll love this book!
This is one of my biggest pet peeves when I’m reading book descriptions. I’m sure that half the time it’s the publishers adding these extra lines to a synopsis, but I find it exceptionally grating. The way I see it, especially if its a debut author, they haven’t earned that prestige yet. As an example, I love Margaret Atwood, she is my favorite author – don’t advertise something to me as being like Atwood. The book will automatically set itself up for failure if I don’t agree. The most famous authors and literature establish themselves on their own merit.
I don’t get why it is such a big marketing tool for authors or books to compare themselves to other works. Wouldn’t it be better to have a book stand on it’s own, to be distinct and more memorable? Rather than being the next Gone Girl, why not be the book that starts the next big fad?
The stupid comparisons most times won’t be the sole reason I don’t pick up a book, but I personally roll my eyes and skim over these descriptions. To me it’s just a waste of space.
I know, this is a bit petty and entirely subjective. I’m fully aware that a book with a bad cover is not necessarily a bad book. In fact I’ve had the joy of discovering several amazing books with simple or unattractive book covers. On the other end of the spectrum too, there have been a plethora of books with covers I loved but absolutely hated the actual content. Not everyone is a graphic designer or has the money to pay one, and that’s perfectly okay.
For me sadly it’s just part of my filtering process. As mentioned before, there are so many books released every year, not to mention classics and other older works that I’ve been wanting to read for ages. I just don’t have the time to pick up every book that I come across.
If a cover is eye catching, I’ll be more inclined to stop and take the time to read the book’s synopsis. If a book or author hasn’t previously been recommended to me by a friend or another trusted source then a good first impression becomes the only thing I have to go on when I’m browsing the endless selection of books out there.
I like to believe that I read a pretty wide variety of genres. I’m a mood reader and what I feel like reading shifts constantly. I find that it helps me to avoid getting oversaturated by one particular genre. One minute I’ll be on a historical romance binge, the next minute I’ll be craving spine tingling horror novels. I’ll try damn near everything for the sake of adventure and doing something different once in a while.
There are a couple of genres, though, that I just don’t feel all that inclined to touch. Though I’ve recently gotten into mystery and suspense thrillers, I’m still not all that interested in ones that involve sleuths or police officers. Whenever I pick up a mystery novel the second I start reading in the synopsis a paragraph about some veteran FBI agent my eyes start to gloss over and I lose interest immediately.
I have a similar reaction to urban fantasy after reading a few that I just didn’t care for all that much. Many seemed to crossover into the paranormal romance genre, and so far a large number of those seem to be rife with tropes that I can’t stand – namely angsty special snowflake heroines and love triangles. Contemporary romance, westerns, and military themed books tend to also go on my “no thanks” list. Perhaps I just haven’t picked up the right books, but I just don’t find myself all that keen on picking up these genres any time soon.
This isn’t a forever issue for me though. For example, when I was a teenager I had absolutely no interest in reading science fiction or high fantasy, meanwhile as an adult I’ve had a lot more interest in both. So who knows? Maybe someday I’ll find myself addicted to police procedurals and Buffy-esque paranormal love triangles. For right now, I have plenty on my plate.
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