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!