Oh, Readers . . . where art thou?

My editor, Rachel Small, is co-conspirator on this post.

Hello, READERS! Yes, you – those people who are not attempting to write their own books but simply enjoy reading the fruits of others’ labours. How are you doing? Have you read any good books lately?

We’re addressing you specifically today because we (my editor and I and many other professionals in the book business) want to get to know you. We’re all so busy talking to other writers and authors about how to write, how to get published, and how to promote books, that we sometimes forget the most important person in this entire equation – the READER! (Although Rachel never forgets – she’s always reminding the authors she edits to remember their readers!) If it weren’t for you Readers, this business wouldn’t exist. It’s kind of an “If a tree falls in the forest . . .” conundrum.

So we thought we’d give all you “pure” READERS – those who have no agenda other than just wanting to discover and read good books – a chance to tell us what turns you on, what makes you want to pick up a book and read it, where you find that book, what makes you finish that book, and what makes you recommend that book to friends and other READERS.

We really do want to know! Please comment below and use these following questions as a guideline, but feel free to tell us anything about your reading habits you think we should know, because we really are interested. (Although let’s forget the whole eBook-vs-print debate for now, okay? Print, electronic, audio, or on a scroll of papyrus, it doesn’t matter how you read. End of discussion.)

So, here are our questions:

1. How do you decide what to read next?

2. Do you belong to a book club? If so, do you read more than just the club’s selections? And is the club open to suggestions from you and other members?

3. Do you stick to a single genre or type of book (fiction, non-fiction, YA, children’s) or are you willing to read around and try out new genres?

4. Do you only read books by authors you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new authors, debut authors, foreign authors, the classics?

5. Do you read books on bestseller lists or in the Oprah’s Book Club list, books reviewed in newspapers and magazines or on radio and TV, and books reviewed on blogs or online sites promoting books, such as Goodreads?

6. Do you follow the advice of friends who read?

7. Do you browse bookstores? If so, what makes you pick up a book off the shelf? Do you ask the staff for advice? Do you borrow books from the library and ask librarians for advice?

8. Do you browse online booksellers? If so, how do you start your search if you don’t have a particular book in mind?

9. Do you attend author events – readings, signings, festivals?

10. Do you write reviews for books you’ve read (whether you enjoyed them or not) and have you ever written directly to an author to let him or her know how you felt about the book? (Did you receive a reply?)

11. What could authors do better to get your attention when promoting their books? What would you like to hear from authors about their books? What do you not want to hear from them?

12. How important is it to know a book has been professionally produced (edited, designed, and published professionally)?

13. Do you reread favourite books? Do you recommend favourite books to other readers?

To get you started on writing your own replies, read what Violet had to say when we asked for her thoughts:

I tend to choose books to read by reading reviews in newspapers, magazines and Reading Recommendations. I consider the subject first and price last. I am not loyal or impressed by an “award winning author”. The nearest public library is a thirty minute drive away, each way, and the nearest bookstore is an hour’s drive, each way. I will buy most of my books electronically. I will often search on Amazon for book titles as well.

I don’t belong to any book clubs but I do discuss books with family and friends. We all like to read different genres. I know of a young person who will discover a writer and love the writing so much that she will buy all other titles by the writer. I myself may follow an author for 4-5 titles but get bored. I will switch from murder/mysteries, to silly romances. I also like to read fiction books based on fact. I also read non-fiction but if the subject gets heavy (Indian Residential School Abuse), I will find a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book. I read for pleasure so education, religion, self help books are not in my range of non-fiction books.

I’m not sure how to define stories on life and relationships. Maeve Binchy used to write about people, their struggles and yes, romance. I loved reading the continuation of her characters in her other books. Guess it makes me a soap opera lover at heart. I read a review on Reading Recommendations about Tim Baker’s books. He had introduced a character named Kurt. I don’t know what it was about Kurt but when I found out Tim wrote a sequel, well, I had to buy that book as well.

There have been times when I did email a writer to express my pleasure at reading their books. I always hesitate to write public reviews because I’m afraid I cannot express myself adequately. And, I have not written a book review since my old school days! The authors have responded to my emails within two days and thanked me for writing.

It is very difficult to find ways to promote a book. I believe that in some ways authors are like visual artists. We have to rely on family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, dentists, and anyone who can help promote the passion of expressing our creativity. Donating books to a charity fundraiser may be a way to get publicity? I do hesitate “giving away” to individuals. I feel it’s not fair to the person who has paid $0.99 or $50.00 for the same book.

I believe that if we introduce the love of reading at a very young age, before school, writers will always be needed, loved and treasured.

One last request to everyone leaving a comment: please recommend a book and the name of the author for the benefit of all the other readers. Thanks!

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24 responses

  1. All good questions! I read a very wide variety of books mainly thanks to belonging to a book club. This has opened me up to being more adventurous with my book choices again as I’d got a bit stuck in a rut going for a certain genre.

    Things that make me a choose a book include: if it’s in the front of a book shop where the bookshop has laid out a variety of different books (and independents are great for this) and it catches my eye; book magazines (available in book shops) that give a brief outline of books; online reviews such as those by newspapers (eg. the Guardian), other things like lists of the best of 2014 etc; friend or relative recommending; prize winners such as Costa, Waterstones or Booker, Pulitzer etc; a certain genre that I particularly like and which will make look for new authors and this for me is Scandi-crime; if I like a particular author I usually read most/all of their work.

    While online reviews etc are useful there’s nothing quite like that experience of browsing in a book shop and picking up something that you’d never normally read. I also often go for debut novels.

    I loved The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (although it split opinion in our book club) and I’m about to start reading The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton which is a debut novel and Waterstone’s book of the year 2014

    1. Thanks for your comments, Ines! And … Oooo! Scendi-crime novelists. My particular favourite right now is Jussi Adler-Olsen. There are so many good authors in that region who have been writing for decades but are just now being translated into English – lucky us!

  2. I normally browse bookstores and libraries where a title or cover may catch my attention then I read the front and back cover and flap intro. Recently I have been reading local Flagler authors; Food for a Hungry Ghost by Becky M. Pourchot; Libbie the Rare Yellow Lobster by Marybeth Jeitner and Heather Chalmers and Chasing Butterflies in the Magical Garden by Jorja Dupont Oliva, there are others on to-read-list. I have never written a public review but have sent an email to an author.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Carol!

  3. I am currently doing beta reading for a couple of authors – very different from each other. One writes about witches and warlocks, the other writes erotic romance. And that range pretty much defines me as a reader as well. Because before I was a “beta reader” I was a “reader”, and still am. I love murder mysteries by both Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Jeffery Archer is a favorite, and Jeffrey Deaver’s work is fascinating. I still read Patricia Cornwell and John Grisham sometimes, but feel that their earlier works had more punch with less verbiage. The paranormal of Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz are favorites. My all-time favorite witches are those of Witch Central written by Debora Geary. Her books are filled with magic in more ways than simply witchy. They are filled with humor, love, belonging, and family. Her dismantling of the word “stupid” is amazing. But what would a paranormal list be without Stephanie Meyers and Twilight. I re-read them frequently (as I do Debora Geary’s books) and find something new in them each time. They are my go-to books. As far as romance is concerned, I love the quirkiness of Jennifer Crusie and the heat of Lora Leigh, and many others whose names are not popping into my head at the moment.

    I find new books by trolling Amazon, checking out ones mentioned in magazines or by friends. I seldom go to a book store because I read almost everything on my e-reader. Although I do occasionally bring out my paper copies of Twilight 🙂

    I don’t stick to one genre unless the mood hits me. But that doesn’t last long and I am on to something else. Lately I have been reading a lot of “how to” books related to formatting books for Kindle Direct and CreateSpace. But I always read fiction in the evening because my head can only hold so much about fonts, paragraph spacing, social media, and badges for my blog.

    I don’t belong to a book club although maybe I should because it would get me out of the house and away from this laptop occasionally.

    Well, back to my current beta read …

    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Betsi!

  4. Reblogged this on Brainfluff and commented:
    Soo… dear Reader, how has your reading year started? This article on Susan’s site seemed very timely, so I thought I’d share it with you…

  5. I have so many favourites (Indie and Traditional) I wouldn’t know where to begin – the best thing to do is see who I’ve already read and my reviews on Goodreads, Smashwords, B&N and Amazon (UK, USA, Canada & Australia) 😀

  6. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    READERS- Here’s a great opportunity for YOU to tell an AUTHOR what YOU want 😀

  7. Reblogged this on jemsbooks and commented:
    A wonderful post, by talented author and blogger, Susan M. Toy! Readers out there please take notice of this important post just for you!

  8. Thank you, Susan, for this wonderful post. It is about time someone addresses readers to find out just what they want to read and enjoy reading. I will reblog this.

    One of my favorite authors is Jeffrey Archer for his fascinating stories about history and families. I also love Mary Higgins Clark, Queen of Suspense. She weaves the most amazing stories! I wish they both were my friends so I could call them up and discuss their books! Lol!

  9. Reblogged this on kyrosmagica and commented:
    Reblogging this via Books Publishing Reading Writing. So Important readers tell us what you like to read.

  10. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    A useful reminder that readers are the important ones. If any of my readers would like to answer these questions for me, your responses would be gratefully received

  11. Reblogged this on Small Talk and commented:
    Susan Toy, writer extraordinaire and author champion, mentioned an idea she had for a blog post. As an editor and an avid reader, I was very excited about the topic, and she asked if I wanted to be a co-conspirator -so I added my two cents! I would love to hear your thoughts, from the point of view of an editor always looking to help authors get their work “out there,” and as a reader on the hunt for great new finds.

  12. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    Calling all readers! Hope over to Susan’s blog and read this essential post. Are you a reader? Please leave a comment on Susan’s blog.

  13. I don’t think I have ever read anything as amazing as Anne Rice’s Mayfair Legacy trilogy. I’ve been reading many indie works and Sarah Cradit’s paranormal series comes close.

  14. Reblogged this on lightningbooksbyagmoye and commented:
    I wish I had written this. Readers are number one! Without which, there is no reason to be.

  15. Reblogged this on blindoggbooks and commented:
    Many people underestimate their own power when it comes to helping independent authors with a simple review or a recommendation.

  16. This article was long overdue!!! Outstanding! My book recommendation…The Violin Man’s Legacy by Seumas Gallacher.

    1. Thanks, Tim! And for the reblog, too!

  17. I have an agenda! Does that mean I can’t answer?

    1. Well, you are a professional reviewer, but not a published author with a book to sell. As long as my readers know that about you, roughseas, it’s okay with me that you answer. I’d love to hear what you have to say about being a reader!

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