Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tip O'Day #256 - "Blind Dates"

Guest blogger Mark Souza on how readers choose a book.

Readers choosing their next book are similar to someone searching for a date at a club or watering hole. Reviews are like exhortations from friends before a blind date. This is not usually enough to seal the deal. Your friends’ opinions don’t always jibe with yours. You want to see for yourself if you’re a match.

Say we have entered the Barnes & Noble Bistro and Bar on a busy Friday night. There are a plethora of choices, including the one recommended by your friends. The first thing you’ll do is pick out those you find attractive. The cover is the first evidence of what to expect. A good cover is one that makes the reader stop and look closer. Does it catch the eye? Does it set the tone for what’s inside? Does it look professional?

After narrowing our candidates to a handful, we’ll want to dig a little deeper. In our dating analogy, we’d sit down and start a conversation to find out what we have in common. In terms of books, this is where we read the blurb. Here we’ll learn about the genre and premise, and whether the author can write worth a damn. If an author can’t hold your interest for one paragraph, what hope is there of holding your attention over 300 pages?

Then we may crack the book open and read the first page or two. Readers look for voice, effective language, and a story that grabs them by the lapels on page one. Spelling and grammatical errors or lifeless prose are huge danger signals.

So whether browsing for a book choice, or looking for a date at the local watering hole, the selection process is same. Physical attraction often comes first and then it’s time to look deeper. A book has to convey a bevy of positive cues in a very short amount of time in order to be selected, and there is very little tolerance for shoddy appearance, obvious flaws, or flaccid prose. Take a little time and do it right.

Connect with Mark online at his website.

1 comment:

  1. Actually I was shocked by the poll I just did about the cover of a book. It seems most my fans look at the title first, then the About The Book, then the cover.
    I have even been guilty of choosing what I am use to or comfortable with. Even famous authors books are known for their mistakes, but people still buy them.
    For too long now, I have had problems finding a book to read by other authors, because of their flaws. I tend to think publishing companies do that so the author will pay them to fix it.
    All those writers that want to be authors, Please hire more than one editor.

    I agree with Mark: Take your time and do it right the first time.