Q4U: How Do You Decide?

One of the questions I get asked most often is, “What makes you say yes to a book?”

I usually try to evade the question because (1) it’s so subjective and (2) there are so many possible answers, depending on the book. Plus, sometimes I’m not even sure. I start reading and I like it. Or don’t like it. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Except as an agent and former editor, it’s sort of my job to know why I like or dislike a piece of writing. And truthfully, I’m always able to pinpoint a reason, if I’m willing to think hard enough about it. That’s one of the reasons I decided to do the query critiques – to show you some of the reasons behind the yes/no decisions.

But it’s your turn. What makes YOU say yes or no to a book?

When you’re browing on Amazon or in a bookstore, looking at covers and reading back cover blurbs and first pages… what makes you either put it back on the shelf, or decide to buy it? Are you able to define a reason?

How do you decide? Be truthful, now. Can’t wait to read your answers. Have a terrific weekend!

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

113 Comments

  1. Anonymous on March 23, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    >I read books based on recommendations.

    Most books I don't finish reading, so I tend to buy used. The story and characters have to be good enough to keep me reading. Most times the writing gets in the way of the story and characters. And this is frustrating. I hate authors who try to be cute in their writing and destroy their characters and story in the process.

    I also like short chapters, so I can sit down and read a chapter over lunch. I hate putting down a book in the middle of a chapter. When I was a kid, I did not mind long chapters, but as an adult, I just don't have the time to read a 4k word chapter.

    And I want to be entertained. The writing does not need to be perfect to be entertaining; I just don't want to be distracted by it. So both bad grammar and excessively flowerly language (or how to over modify a noun) need to go.



  2. Anonymous on March 23, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    >I'll admit to being somewhat sexist (and racist) in choosing my books: I love books by nonwhite women, particularly South Asian woman. Kamila Shamsie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy…If I see a woman writer with an interesting last name, I want to pick it up.

    There are, of course, exceptions: I'm addicted to Kevin Brockheimer and Stephen King, for example. And I always read the Booker Prize winner, because fifteen out of sixteen times I love it. (I've only read 16 Booker winners. Hated White Tiger.) Then again, Arundhati Roy won the Booker, so that year I was trebly blessed. 🙂



  3. Daniel Smith on March 23, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    >I should have put spine first in my list. Everyone underestimates the impact the spine of a book has on that ever important first impression.



  4. Daniel Smith on March 23, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    >I think I have used each of these methods at least once (including the last paragraph – spoiler!) but oddly I don't see anyone mention the foreward or a prologue. (At least in the first 40 comments or so.) If a book has one, and I've made it past the title, cover, back cover copy, and inside flap copy, then I look for a foreward or prologue and read that. Otherwise, I start with the first sentence.

    Rarely, but more for books that are not chronological like a collection of short stories, I'll randomly flip the book open somewhere and read a bit for a sample.

    Now, whereas that's my method, what I'm looking for is a different question. I want to be transported away from my normal life if only for a brief time, and since normal life is generally filled with hardships and strife, I look for something that either tickles my funny bone or gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. Or both. 😀 Simply put (but difficult to achieve) I want to feel better for having spent the time reading than I would have without.

    It really is all about having an emotional experience, whatever that is to the individual.



  5. Dominique on March 22, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    >I feel I use the same criteria as many agents. A rec from a trusted source can make me give something extra attention, but I'm open to the general shelf stock (slush). I'll read the cover flap summaries (queries, for the sake of comparison), but I want the first five pages to really grab me and stick with me. If those are dull, I won't want to read on.



  6. Mira on March 22, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    >Great question. I will say, though, that how I pick a book as a reader would be a very different thing than if I were evaluating a MS, which was probably not in final form, for publication.

    As a reader, though, I mainly go by recommendations and reviews. Amazon is great for this. I love to browse Amazon. Friends are great for referrals, too.



  7. Brock S. Henning on March 21, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    >With fiction, I rarely browse the bookshelves for authors or titles I've never heard of. I just don't have time to risk what could be a mediocre read. Most fiction I purchase is either from an author whose work I know, or from a great review or word of mouth, or from a kick butt billboard ad as I enter the bookstore.

    With non-fiction, I'll buy more books from authors unknown to me. If it's a true story or if I'm researching a subject, I'm more interested in the Table of Contents and thumbing through a few chapters of data vs. the authors publishing success.



  8. Annie on March 21, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    >What catches my eye and makes the decision to read or buy a book…
    1.) The title or cover picture needs to catch my eye
    2.) The first sentence must be so enticing that I continue to read the 1st paragraph.
    3.) If the 1st paragraph continues to entice then I will read the book.
    Also..
    4.) Past authors I have read that I have enjoyed
    5.) Unusual topics that I have never heard about before
    6.) Recommendation from a friend



  9. Anonymous on March 21, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    >Heather, those kind of scenes are exactly why I wouldn't read or buy a book like this…call me a dreamer but YUK!! It was a bestseller so what do I know?



  10. Kathryn Magendie on March 21, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    >It's just an "of the moment" thing- a visceral thing. I will look at covers and backcopy and all, but sometimes it's just whatever mood I'm in.

    I have, lately, however, tried to read work from local authors, or from writers I meet via blogger or whatever, to support them.



  11. Yvette on March 20, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    >It has to "speak" to me. If it's growling or grimacing or staring silently, I reject it. 😛

    I read a lot of history. So subject matter is important. If a title or cover design grabs me, I pick the book up. if the jacket blurb grabs me further, I open to some random page and start reading. If I don't want to put the book down, I want to find out what happened before or what's going to happen, I take the book home.

    That's pretty much it. No scientific formula or mystic superhero powers required. 🙂



  12. myletterstoemily on March 20, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    >more than an explosive plot, i
    need an intriguing character.

    when an author writes his
    characters to feel authentic,
    he hooks me.

    i can usually discern this from
    the first page of a book but
    not the back cover.

    i have, however, purchased
    a few books just because i
    loved the cover. more often
    than not, i end up liking
    them!



  13. Nic on March 20, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    >i don't think i can pick a reason. Either the cover or the blurb interests me or its been recommended by someone and i think it sounds interesting.
    If i'm looking for a book by browsing – i'll always go into a store – i find it hard to browse on amazon or any other internet sites – their fine if you know what you want.



  14. Heather M on March 20, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    >The latest book I read and really loved was "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb. Really, really good book.

    I don't know if my method is unusual or not, but I haven't found it in leafing through the comments here. I don't trust opening paragraphs or pages. I kind of expect books not to start up very fast, because there's so much exposition to do and you kind of can't avoid it.

    So I open the book to about a quarter of the way through, and I read a page or two. If what I read is interesting, I'll go back to the beginning and read at least half the first chapter, and unless that's totally boring or stilted I'll keep going.

    What I found when I opened the Wally Lamb book to a quarter of the way through was a scene in which the MC has a sort-of argument with his girlfriend over the fact that Connie Chung called (they're getting media attention for some reason, she likes and he doesn't, rather interesting), and there's some references to an incident in taking his brother to a psych facility, involving a jerky guard (also rather interesting), and then he gets in the shower and examines himself and finds that his scrotum is still black and blue. (After a page or two it becomes clear the guard kneed him.) I'm sorry, I hope that doesn't gross anybody out, but think about it: who writes about a guy suffering that kind of violence? Who writes *from the point of view* of a guy suffering that kind of violence? That's what got me hooked: I went, "I never see this. This is a totally unique perspective." And it was, the whole book was. There wasn't a lot of gross violence, but there was a lot about how you deal with the violent and dominating tendencies that come out in people and society sometimes, and from a very male point of view. Which is something you don't see a lot.

    Of course, speaking of not trusting first pages, I went back and the first line was about his mentally ill brother cutting his hand off in the library in an attempt to stop the first Iraq war. Which probably would have hooked me just fine.



  15. Ashley on March 20, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    >For me, an attention getting title goes a long way. As does the recommendation of my friends. I'll also read a book if it was made into a movie that I enjoyed.



  16. Great Lakes Romances on March 20, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    >In a nutshell, pacing. If all other criteria for picking a book are met, pacing will determine whether a particular book gets read by me.

    Donna Winters
    http://www.greatlakesromances.com



  17. Jil on March 20, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    >First the subject matter calls to me, then the setting. Moors,forests and villages, yes, suburbia and malls, never. Beautiful writing. I will pick a page, any page, and read a paragraph to see if it touches me.
    Also the pages must look inviting with good margins and decent sized print.
    I am reading a popular book lent by a friend, and I hated the first few chapters. For some reason I persevered, got used to the impossible thinking of the main character and now love it. Surprise!



  18. Martha Ramirez on March 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    >Almost usually, I tend to buy a book that is recommended. But if I am at a bookstore and I am searching for something I tend to go to the end caps and search for a cover art that catches my eye.

    I usually check if it's by a NY bestselling author. If so then it really captures me.

    I read the blurb and if I like what I read then I turn to the first page.

    If the first paragraph captures me nd I am hooked my the voice, then I will read the entire first page.

    Next, I buy it:)

    It's true never judge a book by its cover but we all do. Also that first paragraph has GOT to sell me.



  19. Shelby on March 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    >by the way.. I posted the aforementioned videos on my post at my blog today. enjoy. .. and cheers 🙂



  20. Shelby on March 20, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    >ok.. I browsed Amazon this morning..looking at cover blurbs and reading some of their provided pages.

    Here's an example of how I decided what was worth a second look:

    1) hit amazon.com. looked up one of my favorite books for a starting point (River Horse by Wm Least Heat Moon)

    2) looked at 'customers who bought this ALSO BOUGHT' (a favorite way to find great books).

    3) first interesting find, 'An Island Out of Time' by Tom Horton..looks interesting, but probably won' buy it, it's just not 'the one' yet. (the cover I liked–sea side town shot.. the memoir grabbed me)

    4) repeat step 2) for the Horton book..delving deeper in to the mystery of the search.

    5) next I find, 'A Supremely Bad Idea' by Luke Dempsey. The TITLE grabbed me. The cover was funny looking (guy on his back in the middle of a country road..bird face at the top). Again, book sounds like it might be a fun read, but not yet.. I'm not in to bird watching (maybe in my next decade – or not).

    6) Repeat the usual.

    7) Repeat until I find THIS: 'The Journal Keeper: A Memoir' by Phyllis Theroux. First, it was the COVER – you have to look it up and you'll see what I saw. Next, it was the comments on the book. Absolutely enthralled me. Then, it was the author video of the book. And, finally – it was the second embedded video (you have to follow a link to it).. about the making of the cover. I'm telling you–it absolutely DREW ME IN.

    I'm buying this book. And I shall enjoy it. I Can Not Wait.

    Loved this.



  21. Amanda G on March 20, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    >Don't have time now to read everyone else's responses (I will later!), but here is my process:

    Yes, covers make a difference. Titles less so, other than indication of a genre I don't care for in the first place.

    Back blurb: Is the book a "generational saga"? I put it back. I need a plot, or I get bored. I know that technically those stories do have a plot, but there's not enough action for me to finish them. Is the book populated by "quirky, winsome characters" with names like Bubba and Rainee Sue Ann and Christmas Almost-Here? I put the book back. I can never believe in those types of characters, so the bizarreness other readers find charming just irritates me.

    Actually, yes, now that I consider it, characters' names do impact my decision. A lot. Unrealistic/over-the-top names signify (to me) that the writer isn't taking his characters seriously. And I'm sort of a serious person, and definitely a serious reader.

    If the back blurb is interesting (and nobody is named Rainee Sue Ann), I read the first page or two. If I'm not drowned in adverbs or impossible-simultaneous-action-participles, I open to a random page and read that. Oh, and I flip through the book for white space. White space reveals a lot, too. Too much introspection from the protagonist, not enough dialogue and action, and I will put down the book.

    One book that I intended to run through my "process" was The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. Except when I started the first chapter, I couldn't stop. I read the first 4-5 chapters standing in the aisle at Sam's Club and then decided, hm, maybe I should just buy this.

    Wow, I didn't intend to ramble that much … O:-)



  22. Anonymous on March 20, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    >Hello. And Bye.



  23. Ronda Laveen on March 20, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    >Initially, I am pulled in by the title, author or cover. I scan the synopsis, if I resonate with the truth of the voice on that subject. I flip open the book to the table of contents and author bio. If it passes the content test, I scan the beginning, middle and toward the end for consistency of voice. If that's there, I lay down the green.



  24. Anonymous on March 20, 2010 at 1:58 AM

    >Whispering, don't you mean "piqued" not peaked?
    e.g. A child actor has already peaked and may be considered over the hill now…just trying to help!



  25. WhisperingWriter on March 20, 2010 at 1:04 AM

    >I read the first few pages. If my interest is peaked, I'll buy it. If not, I put it back.

    This is why I try to always make the things I write catch the reader's attention right off the bat. The opening sentence in the novel I'm writing is, "When I was a year old, I almost drowned in the toilet." Granted, now I'm thinking that might be too much and readers might be horrified rather than curious.



  26. Laurie on March 19, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    >Voice…pure voice. A close second is one sentence early on that gives me goosebumps of recognition because it is so true. An example is the opening line and paragraph of Anne Lamott's new novel, "Imperfect Birds."

    It begins: "There are so many evils that pull on our children. Even in the mellow town of Landsdale, where it is easy to see only beauty and decency, a teenager died nearly every year after a party and kids routinely went from high school to psych wards, halfway houses, or jail. Once a year a child from the county of Marin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge."

    How can you not read on after that???



  27. Jake on March 19, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    >I need to feel the authenticity. Plot holes or unresolved issues annoy me to great ends.

    The first impression (cover, writing style) also plays a big role in my decision.

    Though, I'm much more likely to say YES if it came from a recommendation. Which made me think…

    Some agents say on their blog that if you query them and already have an offer of representation (from a reputable agency), they'd like to know. How would you react if someone mentioned something like "I have already received an offer of representation from Nathan Bransford at the Curtis Brown agency, but I still wanted to take the time to query you as I regard your agency and yourself very highly."

    Would you say, "he's full of it", or, "well, if [Agent X] sees value in it, it might be good for me too."

    Is it even ethically acceptable to mention the name of the agency where you had your offer? Janet Reid blogged today that unless the agency is reputable or known, mentioning the offer at the query stage is pointless.

    Thanks for the great entry!



  28. Aimee LS on March 19, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    >I don't think I've ever purchased a brand new book that wasn't either:

    a) Recommended by someone who I know shares my taste

    b) Written by an author I've read before and really enjoyed

    OR

    c) I see a movie I enjoyed and find out it's based on a book (I always go looking 'cos the books are always better than the movie).

    I'll only take risks on secondhand books, or books from the library.



  29. Kate on March 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    >If it has creek, river, mountain, society, club, etc in the title, I don't buy it. These words have become so predictable, so generic to me that I immediately assume the book is generic and boring too (except for Cold Mountain, but seriously, where are all of these identical titles coming from?).

    If it sounds too heavy. I like heavy books too, dark books, hard books. I prefer them, even. But if the flap copy hard sells me on the depth of the book, I'm out.

    If I can't identify with the book, characters, setting, whatever, I'm out. Which is probably why, like Rachelle, cannot hang in there with sci-fi/fantasy.



  30. Amy on March 19, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    >When it comes to fiction, I don't browse at all. I'm strictly a word-of-mouth buyer. I read lots of blogs that review and recommend books, and those reviews spur most of my purchases. I may double-check Amazon reviews, reading at least one positive and one negative review. Reading a negative review usually helps me eliminate books that contain particular pet peeves of mine (e.g. borderline abusive heroes or passive heroines in romance novels; some readers like them, but I hate them). I'll also buy books from authors I've previously read and liked.

    In the case of nonfiction on a particular subject, I browse on Amazon, looking for a book with good reviews. I'll read a few reviews before buying to make sure it's what I'm looking for.



  31. Megan Abrahams on March 19, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    >My mother, who was a playwright/screenwriter, taught me to bypass the cover blurbs. "That's written by the marketing department," she said. "Just read the first page." That's all I do. The first line is key, the opening paragraph is usually enough. If there's a hackneyed phrase I'm out. I look for clear crisp writing (that's my journalism background) and to be instantly pulled into the character's life, the story.



  32. that Cinderella story on March 19, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    >The cover and title is what gets me to pick the book up. If it doesn’t look or sound interesting, I pass it up.
    If I do pick it up, however, then I read the back cover. I have noticed I tend to lean more towards the descriptions that end with a question in which I feel a great need to have answered.
    If the back cover sounds good, then I will read the first pages. I like the book to jump right into something. I don’t want to read three chapters of someone’s life history just so I can understand the rest of the story. If you don’t have me hooked in the first four pages, you have lost me as a reader.



  33. Liana Brooks on March 19, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    >- Word of mouth.

    -Blurb and first page.

    – If the Voice is funny and the premise catches my imagination.

    – If the book opens with action.

    – If the cover is something I won't be embarrassed for my children to see. I don't care if it's a nonfiction about the rise of women in the workplace, I don't want naked people on the cover.



  34. E. Arroyo on March 19, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    >I read the blurb but also the first page. There needs to be some sort of movement in the first paragraph. I have to feel the story is going somewhere from page 1.



  35. Dana Bryant on March 19, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    >Either someone has recommended the book or it is a top seller already. Not very interesting but honest. With three kids, a full time career and serving the Lord, the idea of browsing at the bookstore seems like a dream. In and out so I read what I can get to fast. Dreaming of the day I seek another method to choosing.



  36. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    >Besides the voice and plot, I also like to learn something while I read–that's why historical mysteries are my absolute favorites, as long as they're not violent or graphic. I want to know more about that time period, preferably US 20th century, as long as it's presented in an interesting, entertaining way. No boring history lessons or regencies!



  37. haricot vert on March 19, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    >I'm hooked by cover art, titles, first pages, and first chapters.

    I won't buy based only on the art and the title, and if the first page doesn't catch me then I'm unlikely to go further. But if I get to the end of the first chapter (or ~10 pages in) without realizing it, the book is most likely going home with me.



  38. Ann Stewart on March 19, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    >For me, its the first page. If the voice is right and I like the style then I'll buy the book.

    I also look for newer books Not sure why, but I like to stay current.



  39. josie on March 19, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    >when browsing books in a bookstore, i usually purchase a book when i fall in love with the overall impression the book leaves; considering cover & content description & page 1 & price.



  40. Amanda Hocking on March 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    >Good question.

    1. Author – my number one reason has to be if it somebody I'm familiar with and enjoy.

    2. Recommendation – everything from a friend told me, a blurb in People magazine, to an tweet from a celebrity.

    3. Placement – When I'm in the right mood for a new book, I just grab a book off at the endcap of Walmart or Target.

    4. Cover – the right cover sells me every time. I don't go by the backj acket, cuz they always sound cheezy and lame to me. And even tho the cover disappoints, I still buy.

    So pretty much, the content of the book has next to nothing with why I buy it. Which leads me to be disappointed with my purchases about 50% of the time, but there you have it.



  41. Cassandra Frear on March 19, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    >Here's the main question I ask: does it add something valuable and worthy? Joy can be a worthy thing. And "a thing of beauty is a joy forever." (Keats) Knowing how to do something better is very valuable. Learning how to live well and understanding my world rank high.



  42. Chantal on March 19, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    >In no particular order…

    1. Interesting cover (yes, I do that! lol)
    2. Interesting blurb (if there isn't a place that describes what the story is about I usually put it right back down)
    3. Looks like it's easy to read (no 3 page paragraphs)
    4. In the genres I usually read.

    There's probably more but I can't think of them right now!



  43. emily on March 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    >First, it has to be in my area of interest. I've had periods where I read nothing but sci-fi, and others where I read nothing but suspense. Right now, it has to be Historical fiction. I like a romantic plot thread; but I do not like straight romance.
    I try to get a feel for whether the writer really knows his/her period by scanning a couple interior pages. I don't like picking up wrong information. But I also scan with a jaundiced eye for information dumps, which tell me the writer isn't very skilled.
    I like a good voice. First person is the hardest to sell me on, but if the voice is strong enough, I'll keep reading. A little humor doesn't hurt.



  44. Kerrie on March 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    >A lot of what I read is based on recommendations from other people who have similar taste to mine. Sometimes I do go into a bookstore without any idea of what I want. Then my decision is based on cover and intriguing back of the book summary.



  45. sharonbially on March 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    >Great question, Rachelle – and totally relevant. In the end, it's really readers' choices and tastes that count.

    Personally, I do a first round of elimation by looking for 1) award winners and sometimes runners-up 2)titles that have generated a lot of buzz; and 3)books on topics I love or want to learn more about. Then I pick the book up and read a couple of pages at random, usually including the first page). If there's a click, if I like the writing and am drawn in, I buy it. If not, I move on.

    And when I check out the award-winners and the "buzz generators," it's mainly out of curiousity to see: what got this recognized?



  46. J. Koyanagi on March 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    >High concept, speculative plot gets me to crack open the book. Lyrical, poetic prose will make me take it to the checkout counter.



  47. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    >Now I try to act like an agent or average reader and go by the title/art, blurbs and first page–then I select a random page to see if the writing holds up. Since I prefer mysteries, I put them down if they're too silly or graphic or boring. I'm surprised how many mysteries open with static scenes with no sense of excitement or suspense, but I hate over the top thrillers and gore too. I've worked so hard on my first pages and chapters (and whole novel) that I'd buy my book if it was on the shelf! LOL



  48. Carol Benedict on March 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    >I buy most of my books online. I start with the category I'm interested in and look for authors I'm familiar with, or for books that were recommended to me by people who like the same type of books. I also use the suggested reading feature Amazon has when you look at one book, as it shows me similar books to pick from. I prefer reading sample chapters, but sometimes base my decision on the reviews on Amazon.

    Titles and covers don't influence me when shopping online, but they are the first thing I notice when browing in a bookstore. I also read a couple of random pages before making a final decision, and if those don't sound interesting I don't buy it.



  49. Shannon Dittemore on March 19, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    >I'm a pretty wide reader from children and YA to literary fiction. The cover is what usually pulls me in, if I'm being honest, but I will not take the thing home unless I've thumbed through the first few pages. For me, it is ALL about voice. If I connect with the writer in that way, I'm sold. If not, I'll put the book down. I don't have any qualms about it either. The bookstore is FULL of fabulous books. Life's too short to read a crappy one!



  50. Cassie K on March 19, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    >Ooo, I love this question! I'm so picky now – really, really, really picky so it's harder to make me say yes – far easier to say no – which is sad because I love to read.

    I say no to romances about vampires, werewolves or demons/fallen angels (ironic since I actually have one with fallen angels :-D). And if I read a blurb that mentions destined mates, soul mates or the hints that the story will be all about the sex (passion, hunger, oh, I can' think of all those that flag me as to this), I'll put right back down even if the story sounds interesting because I know it won't be (sigh – TOO many of those).

    What I am looking for are heavy action/adventure, futuristic and psychic romances (psychic like the one I picked up yesterday -ghost hunting with an alternative universe element).

    I absolutely love psychic and superhero (not the over the top quirky ones – more angsty like Batman) books (why aren't there more of these?) and futuristic romance.

    I get excited over urban fantasy new releases of series written by guys like Simon Green (Nightside), Jim Butcher (Dresden), Anton Stout and guy-focused like Rob Thurman. I like these because they are great characters and full of action.

    I do look at covers first – if it's a guy with a bare chest – I won't pick it up – I'll know it's too heavy on the sex aspect. If it's a kick-butt woman, I'll usually pick it up and then put back down if she's a vampire or demon slayer (too many of those).

    I guess, and I can see some of this in maybe what agents look for – I'm looking for something different. But unlike those who say they are looking for something different (and just keep representing the same), I truly am looking for stories that are fun reads (not looking for a message)more of what is NOT being published – action/adventure, futuristic and psychic romances. So, in that respect, I can exactly define what makes me say yes.

    The problem is – the "market" doesn't seem to allow for these. Which is why I read less and less.

    Thanks Rachelle!



  51. Lee Rowan on March 19, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    >1. Known writer. Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Peters, Lois McMasters Bujold, Aaron Elkins, Robert Parker (RIP, damn it), Rex Stout, Charlotte MacLeod, and so many others.

    2. Favorite Genre I (mysteries, historical) or series I like (I love Joan Hess's Maggody series but can't stand her librarian.)

    3. GOOD ENGLISH. If the writer and editor don't know how to handle apostrophes and can't tell discreet from discrete, I'd find it too irritating to read the book.

    4. Interesting Characters. If the characters don't have an IQ higher than room temparture, I'm also not going to finish the book. This also applies to what Siskel & Ebert called "idiot plots." I stopped reading the Harry Potter books at about the fifth "We Can't Tell Dumbledore!" when informing the head of a school that there was a frakkin' monster in the restroom was the only rational thing to do.

    5. Writers who mistake bad-mannered boors for "feisty" heroines. In fact, anything "feisty" that isn't a smallish terrier is an immediate no-go.

    5. No sermons, no vampires, no right-wing propaganda. I can't stand preachy syrup, angsty vampires make me queasy, and I don't read books that promote right-wing political agendas.

    6. A sense of humor. The more serious the story, the more important a thread of humor becomes.



  52. Lee Rowan on March 19, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    >1. Known writer. Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Peters, Lois McMasters Bujold, Aaron Elkins, Robert Parker (RIP, damn it), Rex Stout, Charlotte MacLeod, and so many others.

    2. Favorite Genre I (mysteries, historical) or series I like (I love Joan Hess's Maggody series but can't stand her librarian.)

    3. GOOD ENGLISH. If the writer and editor don't know how to handle apostrophes and can't tell discreet from discrete, I'd find it too irritating to read the book.

    4. Interesting Characters. If the characters don't have an IQ higher than room temparture, I'm also not going to finish the book. This also applies to what Siskel & Ebert called "idiot plots." I stopped reading the Harry Potter books at about the fifth "We Can't Tell Dumbledore!" when informing the head of a school that there was a frakkin' monster in the restroom was the only rational thing to do.

    5. Writers who mistake bad-mannered boors for "feisty" heroines. In fact, anything "feisty" that isn't a smallish terrier is an immediate no-go.

    5. No sermons, no vampires, no right-wing propaganda. I can't stand preachy syrup, angsty vampires make me queasy, and I don't read books that promote right-wing political agendas.

    6. A sense of humor. The more serious the story, the more important a thread of humor becomes.



  53. Genevieve Wilson on March 19, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    >I'll give anything a chance, but I want to connect to the characters. If I can't can't do that, then I'm out. Also, if I come across too many occurrences of the words "gingerly" and "chuckle" I'm out. There's nothing wrong with the words, I'm sure. It's just me.



  54. wonderer on March 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    >For me, the most important thing is voice. I read a lot of "first five pages", and if the narrator's voice puts me off, too bad, even if the plot looks good. If the voice doesn't grab me in that time but the back-cover copy does, I'll give it a chance anyway. (I read mostly SF/F, and I know what I like and don't like in those genres. For novels outside the genres, voice is even more important.)

    I find books through word of mouth — friends, bloggers, chapter-a-day book club, award winners. If it passes the "first five pages" test, it goes on my monster "to read" list to buy later. So all my browsing happens online, but all my buying is at a bricks-and-mortar store.

    Not particularly important to me: front cover, blurbs.



  55. bfav on March 19, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    >For me it is a recommendation or the genre…and then the cover.



  56. Derrick on March 19, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    >Actually, I'm probably the agent's dream reader, because the last couple books I've read have been because I read agent blogs and the agent made their client's new release sound really appealing.



  57. T. Anne on March 19, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    >It's the writing. I read the first page and try to get a feel for the authors style. If I'm hooked I buy the book. The cover can lure me into picking it up, but if the writing can't back up that stellar cover, it's not coming home. I'll pick through the middle before I decided as well.



  58. Keli Gwyn on March 19, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    >1. Is it my favorite genre? I'm a fan of romance, with historical being my priority, but if a contemporary meets my other three criteria, I'll read it.

    2. Does the back cover blurb intrigue me?

    3. Have I read great reviews about this book?

    4. Is this book by an author whose work I like or a debut author I've heard great things about?



  59. Rose on March 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    >Although the cover draws my interest in the book, I always read the back cover blurb or the "teaser" page in the front of the book.



  60. Diane J. on March 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    >Let's see, I start with the cover. If it's not too frilly I will pick it up (frilly seems uber romantic and those just aren't my favorite reads). I check the blurb on the back and then I thumb through a few pages. If the tone is what I like, I will hem and haw on whether to buy it. If it has some humor…Bingo! I'm sold.

    As for non-fiction, I'll buy almost anything in the reference section (I'm such a sucker). However, layout is a huge selling point for me. I've been burned a few times when I purchased a book because I loved the layout, but then discovered the writing wasn't that great (the worst was a book I bought that kept trying to sell itself throughout, for the love of Pete, I already bought the book, stop selling it to me).



  61. Ross on March 19, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    >I'm not gonna lie–the book's cover artwork is a big factor in my decision.



  62. Juli Page Morgan on March 19, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    >After I pick up a book in a genre I know I'll like, I open it up somewhere in the middle and read three pages. If the characters are portrayed in a realistic way, and the setting is one I like, then I'll buy it.

    What makes me put it down and not finish? When the characters start behaving in a way that's unnatural. Even if they're time-travelers, or werewolves, or just normal everyday people, if they start doing things contrary to the way the author has portrayed them in the first ten or so chaptersm I get frustrated. It's irritating to invest time in a character and start to sympathize with them only to have them do a 180 without any discernable reason.

    So, the short answer? Characters. I can put up with a weak voice and a thin plot as long as I like the characters and what they do.



  63. Erinn on March 19, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    >Normally I pick books that I see other people reading or that have been recommended to me. I love YA lit and since I teach middle school, my students are my best resource for finding new books.

    Once I start reading a book, I give it about 50 pages and it needs to hook me, either with an original voice, realistic characters or a plot that keeps my attention.

    I'm a mom, a wife and a writer, time is a rare and wonderful thing. I don't want to waste it on crappy books. 50 pages is all you get.



  64. David Jarrett on March 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    >In fiction, I read to be entertained. That being said, I will tell you first what I do not like.

    1) Books written in the first person. This will immediately turn me off and I will return the book to the shelf. To me, there is nothing more boring than wading through 400 pages of "I".

    2) Books whose protagonists are unbelievably perfect and who are capable of performing acts that can only be performed by about 1% of the population. Think James Bond. A protagonist with whom I can identify will be a cut above Everyman, but he will also possess some flaws and will not be able to ride the world roughshod at his will.

    3) Fantasy, forget it. I enjoy Sci-fi if it is at all within the realm of possibility, but a man morphing into a wolf in mid-jump is too much of a stretch for me.

    4) I am not being chauvinistic here, but I have a hard time reading books written by women. When I read a book I really enjoy, I become part of it. Men and women are very different in their thinking and their approach to various situations. Call it a flaw in my character if you want, but I cannot identify with a female protagonist, and I have found almost no female authors who can "get inside the head" of a male one.

    Reading the blurbs and skimming a few random pages of a book tests these criteria quickly.

    When you read this, please remember that I am 67 years old, have been reading for a very long time, and have grown very ornery and particular in my later years.



  65. Jemi Fraser on March 19, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    >For me, it's all about the characters. If I care about them, then I'm in.



  66. Carrie Turansky on March 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    >I usually stick with my favorite authors, but I am also influenced by a great cover. I was an art major, so covers matter to me. Back cover copy may sway me one way or the other. If I am still undecided, I will read the first page or two and see if the story grabs me and the writing style is enjoyable. I can usually tell if I will like a book by reading the first page.



  67. Turd Ferguson on March 19, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    >Once a book has convinced me that it's worth opening, it's like having a conversation with another person. Does it make sense? Easy to follow? Interesting without trying too hard? That's a big one for me, so many books come off as desperate to grab my attention and it actually works in the opposite manner. On the other hand, it can't be too cool. Exuding the attitude that it deserves my attention is off putting as well. I want a confident, intelligent, and appreciative book.



  68. Ashley on March 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    >Writing style
    Depth of characters
    Details of the characters professions etc.
    Intricacy of the plot line

    But makes me stick with an author:
    Doctrinally sound world views, thought processes and lifestyles (Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy) interwoven into the books.

    Favorite Authors:

    Dee Henderson
    Lori Wick
    Linda Windsor
    John Piper
    R.J. Rushdoony
    Doug Phillips
    Gary Demarr
    G.A. Henty
    Elizabeth Printess
    Elizabeth Elliot
    Noah Webster- Yes, the 1828 Dictionary



  69. Liberty Speidel on March 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    >A lot of my decisions are based on recommendations from friends, though I'll sometimes pick up award-winners from MWA. And, since I read series fiction (most of the time), it usually helps if the MC is someone I can identify with or admire (Miss Marple is out for me!)

    After that, it goes along the lines of whether the plot sounds interesting or believable (though I'm willing to suspend my disbelief some for sci-fi or political thrillers.)

    Unfortunately, my mood plays a big part in it, too. I go through periods where I can't read certain types of books (it took me 3 tries to finish a book by one of my favorite authors not too long ago!) So, if I'm hunting for a new author or book, if I'm in one mood, I may willingly pick it up and read it or buy it, but if I'm in another, I won't. Hopefully, one day I'll come back to borrow it from the library (if I'm not sure about the author) or add it to my own library.



  70. Heather on March 19, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    >I tend to buy books that only people I know well and trust their recommendation have read. When I'm browsing in the library, I'm a little more indiscreet and pick up books based on their title. Then I read the back blurb–if that's interesting, I open it and read the first paragraph–or first page–or half of the book, depending on how much it interests me. :0)



  71. Timothy Fish on March 19, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    >For me, it’s all about the story. That and I don’t buy books with pink covers. There are some stories that I have a hard time passing up. As someone said, it’s a personal thing, but I love the story in which people who can’t stand each other are forced to work together—a work relationship, marriage, stuck in an elevator or whatever. I love a good whodunit, but I don’t care for these evil sleuths that so many books have. A sleuth should be flawed and have his problems, but he should have some good moral fiber and try to distance himself from the darkness that tries to pull him in. I like stories involving royalty like people, though it doesn’t have to be an actual king, queen, prince or princess. It could be the wealthy owner of a company. I think what I like about those is that they show that there is something more important than wealth, power and influence.



  72. Nicole on March 19, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    >The cover plays a huge part in drawing my attention to a book. Next, a one sentence lead-off blurb on the back cover. I won't usually read the entire back cover copy because sometimes it reveals way too much. Rarely do I open the novel to read anything.

    That said, in blog tour reading, the info doesn't feature the cover. I would've missed a couple (not more than that, though) very good books because their covers (when they arrived) didn't do the stories justice–I never would've picked up the novels in the bookstore or online by their covers. I wouldn't even have read the copy because their covers implicated something the stories definitely were not.



  73. zachterry on March 19, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    >I normally read non-fiction that pertains to the subject matter I am teaching at my Church. So subject matter comes first, then Author. If I don't know the author I look to the credentials or those who recommended the book.



  74. Krista on March 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    >In normal order of discovery:
    1. Title.
    2. Cover art.
    3. Back blurb.
    4. First paragraph of Chapter One.



  75. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    >If it says anything about 'coming-of-age' on the jacket blurb I drop it. Coming of age doesn't mean growing up and learning responsibility and self-reliance anymore. It means sex. Which usually gets in the way of the story.



  76. Debbie Maxwell Allen on March 19, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    >Sounds like there's a theme here: title/blurb, familiarity with author, and first pages.

    I'll add that I can't stand backstory dumps early on–it's hard to believe these make it past editors.

    And though I can't always tell from the first pages, I love it when an author can surprise me. Reading as much as I do, I find myself predicting where the plot is going, and who the true villain is.

    This makes me realize that agents and editors pick up on this, too. I need to examine my own plot for threads and events that are too "typical".



  77. Kristen Torres-Toro on March 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    >Hmm… in a bookstore, I choose books based on the emotions they invoke in me simply based on their appearances and back covers.

    I will keep reading if I love the word choice and voice. And if I care about the characters/plot.

    So, this is definitely making me think about my novels from a different perspective. Thanks, Rachelle!



  78. Reesha on March 19, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    >Truthfully?
    I browse the store looking for anything that'll catch my eye (great cover, intriguing title, name of author I have interest in reading).
    By the time I have to leave the bookstore, I choose one or two books from what I've been exposed to during my browsing that are my favorites.

    In a query process though, I'm sure I would act much differently.



  79. worstwriterever on March 19, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    >Right now I'm reading all the Giller Prize winning books. So that's my main criteria.

    What makes me refuse a book is if I think I'll be too disturbed by it. An example is that I would never be able to read A Child Called It.

    As a mother I have to protect my soul and reading books like that shred it all up.

    Those kinds of books are so important to the world because they show the horrors of child abuse and the fact that it really happens. Every day.

    But I can't read those books without falling completely to pieces. Not what I'm looking for from my reading experience.



  80. Susan on March 19, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    >I always pick up a book because it has either a) an interesting over, or b) an interesting title. From there it all comes down to descriptions. If it involves family drama and a love story somewhere in there, and the names aren't so out there that I can't even pronounce them, I know it's a book for me.

    I also find a lot of books from agents that I like. If I like them, I'll probably like the books they represent too.



  81. Nancy on March 19, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    >I usually chose a book by the title, open and read a few pages from the ending (same with movies I like to know how they end)and some of the middle. If I can figure out what a book is about before reading the blurb I usually get it just to see how the author reached the conclusion.

    Slow beginnings don't bother me. My thing is, if I buy it I'm going to finish reading it. I rarely go by recommendations because everyone has their own opinions and can be swayed by simple things.



  82. Billy Coffey on March 19, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    >A title will usually draw me in more than the cover, for some reason. Then I'll read the back cover. But it's the first page that makes me buy a book or not, every time.



  83. MJR on March 19, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    >My favorite way to pick out a book is at a bookstore–unfortunately my local B&N is closing. I generally don't read genre books–mysteries, sci fi, romance. So that cuts out a lot of books. I also don't read much literary stuff, but I'm surprised that some of the novels I iiked have been called "literary" when I just thought they were good reads (like THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG).

    I read the novels in between. I enjoyed THE HELP. The novel needs to have a fresh twist for me to pick it up. I like novels that are funny and have social commentary (some of these fall into chick lit or lad lit category). I sometimes like historical novels as long as romance isn't the main plot.

    I also love novels that deal with nature (THE HIGHEST TIDE), animals (esp horses), and so on, but I can't find too many of these…



  84. JDuncan on March 19, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    >Since most books are viewed first by the spine, I browse titles first. Face out books will get the cover and title looked at first which is a bonus for the author. If the title catches my eye, and the cover looks halfway interesting (I'll put one back if the cover looks bleh), I'll read the blurb. If the blurb is catchy then I'll check out a few pages, usually the first couple, at which point if that grabs me, a couple more in the middle. If it passes all of those tests, then it goes on my list of possibles. Since I generally only buy one or two at a time, I'll have four or five and the decide amongst those. So, while writing does generally rule all, you need a good title/cover/blurb to grab my attention in the first place.



  85. Jason on March 19, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    >In order for this to be as honest as possible, I'll just mention the last three books I've read and why I bought them…

    Dracula (Bram Stoker)–was perusing Barnes and Nobles while my wife and I were on one of our cheap "bookstore dates." The book was on sale, the cover grabbed my attention, I love the genre, and after reading a page or two, I fell in love with the prose. The prose alone sorta pulls you back to the time period in which the book is set.

    Gross National Happiness (Authur Brooks)–I was reading an article that indicated that politically conservative people are generally happier than liberals…that was news to me so I picked up this book, which the writer of the article had referenced.

    Jonanthan Stange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clark)–Once again, amazing prose. A friend let me borrow his copy. I liked it so much I ordered my own and gave his back.

    So I guess the consistent theme here is that I sort of stumble onto the books I choose to buy, sometimes when I'm doing other reading, sometimes through a friend, and sometimes just browsing…



  86. lynnrush on March 19, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    >The book cover lures me in, then, the back cover blurb will either lead me to open the book to the first page or lead me to put it back on the shelf and walk away.

    If I'm digging the first couple pages, I'll usually buy it.

    I don't buy many book online yet, because I love the act of roaming a bookstore flipping through books.

    Have a great weekend, everyone.



  87. Rachel on March 19, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    >If I'm choosing a book cold (with no referral from a friend or fellow book blogger, which is still my favorite way), I check to see who published the book, who–if anyone notable–spoke favorably about it, and whether it won any awards. I read the back of the book, and the first page. Then I fan through it, catching little snippets of the author's voice.

    Oh–and if the cover is cheese-tastic, the book and I are instantly done.



  88. J. Andersen on March 19, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    >I read just about anything in the realm of fiction. Back covers usually do it for me. I also go with recommendations from friends, and I always ask the book store attendant or librarian what's new or what they've liked in the past. I have to admit I'm a little saddened by people who say they mostly will read it if they've heard of the author. What about all those first time authors out there? They need readers to pick up their books too! 🙂



  89. kathy taylor on March 19, 2010 at 7:29 AM

    >I want to be captured in the moment that is being celebrated in the book. I'm looking for a plot that takes me outside my own world yet makes me feel totally at home.



  90. Katie Ganshert on March 19, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    >Oh, and another good sign….

    Quite often, I choose a book because I think it will help me learn more about the craft.

    I know it's a good book when I comnpletely forget that I wanted to study the writing. I know it's good when I finish and then say, "Oh shoot, I was supposed to pay attention to the writing!"



  91. Katie Ganshert on March 19, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    >Ha! When you turn it around, I realize it IS a hard question to answer!

    Hmmmmm….what makes me stick with a book or ditch it?

    A strong, captivating voice gets me all the time. The story has to suspend my disbelieve…the minute I start screwing up my eyebrows, or the minute I become very aware that I'm sitting on my couch just reading a book…I usually put the book down and don't pick it back up. I'm too busy to stick with a book that doesn't captivate me and take me away.



  92. Cheryl on March 19, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    >Assuming it's an author I've never read before:

    1) Trope subversion. I want to say "Wow, that's new," or "I'd never have thought of that!" I want to be pleasantly startled.

    2) Smart characters. Not so much intellectuals, but people who are aware of what's going on around them and respond appropriately. Or inappropriately, depending.

    3) Loving descriptions of landscapes or food. I've read genres I don't usually touch because they dealt with food.



  93. Krista Phillips on March 19, 2010 at 6:59 AM

    >I'm read for entertainment, to get a way, mostly. And I'm a romancaholic.. but I tend towards the "clean" romances because I hear enough of the other stuff at work and on TV.

    So… I decide on the books I"m going to buy by:

    1.) If I've heard of them before. I do pay attention online and if I see a bunch of blogs praising a book, and see comments raving about it as well, I'll be more apt to buy it.

    2.) authors I trust. There are a few authors that I KNOW write the kind of stuff I like, so I continue to buy their stuff.

    3.) Covers, covers, covers (and title too!) I'm a huge "judge a book by its cover" kinda person, because I usually only skim the back cover… most times it gives away too much of the story, ha! But the cover can usually give me a clue if it's women's fiction or romance. Usually I'm tending towards the romance.

    4.) Garage sales. I pick up a lot the 0.50 cent books that are Christian fiction there that I haven't read. Many times I find new favorite authors! A few times I've found authors that I'd rather not read from again.



  94. Amy Sue Nathan on March 19, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    >What draws me in?

    Title, recommendation by a friend, back of the book, first page.

    What keeps me reading?

    Voice and story.

    If I'm not sucked in immediately I give a book 50 pages, if I can. I've been glad many, many times that I didn't give up after page 3. Sometimes I offer my reading suggestions to friends by saying "I loved it – but wasn't hooked til page 16 so make sure you read that far."



  95. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    >If the back cover sounds like I can figure out what is going to happen without reading the book, I have no interest. If I just read something very similar to what the back cover sounds like, not interested.

    What catches my interest is a romantic thread, but that is not the focus of the book, an interesting female lead due to her career or a unique challenge ahead of her, or a setting/time period that appeals to me at that time.

    Jenny



  96. Jana Hutcheson on March 19, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    >I do exactly what Ian said.



  97. The Alliterative Allomorph on March 19, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    >I don't like fanatasy much, so you'd never see me looking in the fantasy section. I prefer stories that resemble real life. Real life with a supernatural twists I can handle, and sometimes really get into, but it has to be based on something real, witb realistic characters. I totally enjoy delving into different kinds of relationships, whether it be a simple husband/wife relationship, or a relationship between a lawyer and their client. Anything that explores the human disposition. I like to try out debut authors. I don't need a name to pick up a book. The story just needs to strike a chord with me – realistically.



  98. TERI REES WANG on March 19, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    >By touch-feel-smell…and then a flip through look-see…roulette to a random page, and read.

    Listen for the rhythm of the voice. Is it one that I can hear my self say inside my head, and keep pace with.

    Otherwise, my book club tells me what to read.



  99. Christine Danek on March 19, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    >I usually read the summary and if it sounds interesting then I buy it. If someone recommends then it is a no brainer. A really cool cover doesn't hurt either.



  100. Laura Pauling on March 19, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    >If I didn't have the cover and title to go off of, because that does play a big part, I'd read the first page and the backflap. If there are secrets, or an exciting plot that surprises me and sounds fun, I'll read it. But I enjoy dark stories too. I like to be surprised. And it does come to the opening sometimes, if I don't have time to read further. Of course, I need to be surprised and enjoy it all the way through to finish it.



  101. Ian on March 19, 2010 at 5:43 AM

    >If I'm honest, the Title draws me in. Then it's the blurb to see if the story is interesting enough to grab me.
    If it's what I feel like reading at that moment, I'll open a page at random and read to see if I like the way the story's told, and if that's good I'll maybe read the first page, then go buy it.



  102. Jessica Nelson on March 19, 2010 at 5:17 AM

    >When I walk into a bookstore (which is rare, unfortunately) I look at titles first. I LOVE looking at books, it's almost as exciting as reading them. lol
    Titles that catch my attention will get me looking at the cover (sometimes covers catch my attention) and then reading the blurb. I don't think I've ever bought a book without reading the blurb.
    And then….taa dum…the first page.

    This is a good post because many writers (me included) forget the real criteria for writing fiction, and that's to make each page rock so much that the reader can't put the story down. 🙂



  103. Daniel Mount on March 19, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    >I buy it if it has content I want and the price is right. Everything else really doesn't matter, when it comes down to it.



  104. Little Ms Blogger on March 19, 2010 at 5:07 AM

    >I love this question because it really had me stop and think as there are several ways I pick a book.

    They are:

    1. Prior author's work. If I loved one of their books, I'll pick up the next one.

    2. Friends. My group of friends is extremely diverse. Some lighthearted, some intense. Depending upon the mood I'm in, I'll ask them for a current recommendation.

    3. NYTimes Bestseller list. I don't always choose what is on the list, but will read the write up and go to Amazon.com for reviews given by readers.

    4. My library's online book club. Every week, I get a chapter mailed to me daily of a book in a particular genre I signed up for. I will always read the first chapter on Monday and if it captures my attention, I'll read the other chapters and purchase a book because of the online club. I have one complaint with this method. Although I discovered this online book club (I believe is national) via my local library, the library doesn't offer the books being promoted.

    5. Online reviews from no one famous to Oprah.

    6. Finally, I old school my selection. Meaning, I will go to the bookstore and browse the various tables of new selections, discounted books and read the jackets. I've discovered some great books this way.



  105. Sharon A. Lavy on March 19, 2010 at 4:47 AM

    >What a good way to turn this around. As readers we reject books everyday. And it is subjective.

    My friend bought a book by James Scott Bell at a writers conference. She kept sneaking off to her room to keep reading it. She finished in on the plane ride home. I borrowed the book and it was a page turner. I gave it to my husband to read. He could not finish it. I gave it to my 50 something son to read. He never got into it either, although he read it all the way through.

    We reject books that don't hold our interest. It's as simple as that.



  106. Ellen B on March 19, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    >When I read the blurb, look at the cover and read the first page, if I'm not drawn in, I say no.

    Maybe I'd make a good agent. . .



  107. Jeff on March 19, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    >I use my powers as a book Jedi to feel a book's awesomeness. You see, all books have a life force…



  108. Amie McCracken on March 19, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    >I'm sure you'll all cringe at this method, but I read the first page and the last paragraph. So yes, I usually know the ending. But those two chunks tend to give me an idea of the voice. (And if it's good enough I will be so lost in the story that I won't remember the ending.)

    And sometimes I buy because I like the title or the cover design.



  109. Asea on March 19, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    >I go on a book-buying binge a couple of times a year, and my method works out to:

    1. Read all the spines of books in the English section (I live abroad)
    2. If I've heard of the author/book, pull the book out and read the back blurb
    3. If the blurb is interesting, flip the book open to somewhere in the middle and see if the style is reasonable.
    4. If it passes those criteria, I buy it.
    BUT I will also pull a book out if the design is nice or the title is intriguing. I have bought books that I knew nothing about just because I liked the cover.



  110. Sea on March 19, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    >I'm pretty much a true, blue rom com fan. Not that books are ever categorised under 'romantic comedy', so I have to sort through the romance or chick lit sections.

    Basically I pick up a book when the title sounds funny / interesting or it just has a 'I'm a chick lit / light romance / cosy mystery' look about it. I read the blurb and the first page. If the character sounds like someone I might like, and the first page has a voice that attracts me, I get it.

    A good rom com is really difficult to find though.



  111. Adam Heine on March 19, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    >I wrote a (partially humorous) breakdown of my process here.

    But mostly: I pick up a book if I've heard of it or the author, I keep reading if I like the cover/title/concept, and I don't put it down unless it annoys me.



  112. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 at 1:34 AM

    >I decide depending on the mood I'm in at the time.



  113. writer jim on March 19, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    >Since my youth, I’ve been filled with amazement about God. I decided early on that pursuing Him would be the most thrilling and fulfilling thing possible in life. I’m a simple sinner; but I’ve spent decades seeking the Almighty, striving to really know Him. God responds to seekers: All through my life He has led me into diverse amazing experiences. In my opinion, nothing else can compare to learning the very WAYS of God.

    That said…I LOVE books that tell about other peoples' true amazing experiences with God. I LOVE to learn all I can about God. To me, it is FAR more interesting than all else in the world.



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