Hello, loves! It has been, um, literal months since I wrote a discussion post! Big ope. There are numerous reasons for this, which we can get into at a later date. Or not. Life’s busy and the blog hasn’t been the priority, unfortunately. *shrugs* But I’ve been wanting to write this discussion post for a few months now!
Basically, I want to give my two cents about what actually influences my reading choices. My reading influences, if you will. It’s a hodgepodge of a post, inspired by a few different things. But with publishing’s marketing strategy being very…eh, I’m always curious to see what actually causes readers to pick up books.
So, let’s discuss!
Inspiration For Discussion (+ Disclaimer)
So, there are a few posts that inspired me wanting to discuss my reading influences. I wanted to give a shout out and make sure you go and check out the following posts:
- What Influences Me to Read a Book by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books
- What Do You Think About Books Marketed Solely on Vibes and Tropes by Charvi @ Not Just Fiction
- Blurb Disk Horse by Chuck Wendig @ Terribleminds
Also, a quick disclaimer, before we dive in. I have a lot of Opinions™️ about how publishing works, in terms of their marketing and promotion strategies. (Not all of them good ones.) Though I do think there could be some change, the below discussion is just what causes me to want to acquire a book. Obviously, this will differ for each person. Which is why I hope you share yours in the comments!
My Reading Influences
So, in reading some of the posts above, there was a lot of discussion (particularly in Marie’s post, which was the main inspiration for mine) about what makes a reader want to read a book. It got me reflecting on my own standards. For me, the below list is just my general standards, to get me interested in a book. To get me to add it to my list of books to read raises these standards a bit. To get it at the library, a little higher. To make me purchase it? You’re basically going to need to hit all the right spots.
That’s a deeper discussion for another day, the fluidity and range even these most basic standards can have, in terms of supporting a book or author. But, for now, here’s my main four reading influences.
Genre and Age Range
This might go without saying, but there are some very specific parameters that will automatically make or break my interest in a book. This has also evolved from when I was an avid reader growing up. And obviously, what I chose to read in the moment will influence what I pick up on my shelves. But, to get my interest, a book must:
- Be fantasy, science fiction or select romance
- Adult in age range
- Available in print (preferably paperback ((RIP Mask Markets))
This is no shade to other genres, nor a diss to those who like to read in other genres or age ranges. YA just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. And I’ve never enjoyed reading contemporary novels. The closest I can get is regency romance or urban fantasy, but those are still lower than secondary world fantasy or fantasy romance. In terms of print, I just can’t do ebooks. I’m not against them at all, but I spend too much time on screens already. I just can’t.
Tropes and Covers
I am unashamed to say that a book’s cover is a HUGE factor to me. I like pretty things. Collecting books is one of my hobbies. If the cover is awful, it’s going to be harder to sell me that book. Unfair? Perhaps. But valid for me nonetheless.
Tropes, on the other hand, are something I’m a sucker for. Charvi’s discussion that I linked above got into some really great questions about using tropes as a marketing tool (especially if it’s the only marketing tool). Much of which I agree with. However, I’m a sucker for tropes, so knowing what kinds I might get within a book is helpful for me. BUT, it’s in conversation of all of these other things I’m listing. It’s almost never enough on it’s one, no matter the trope.
Book Blogger Rec and Accessibility
I don’t get all of my reading recommendations from bloggers. But I do get many of them, mostly in the form of just making me aware that the book exists in the first place. Bloggers are practically my number one source of learning about new books, especially since Twitter’s downfall. Which is one of the reasons bloggers are so important and so underappreciated by publishing.
Of course, there are also a select few bloggers who, if they mention they adore a book or they champion it, I perk up instantly. Our reading tastes are super aligned. I am so thankful for them.
A quick note about accessibility. When I say that, I am coming from a very privileged place. I live in the US, so a majority of books are available and published here. I have bookstores and library access in my town. But, a book could tick all my boxes and make me want to own it, but still be inaccessible for me personally, due to a) price and b) format (hardcover only, as an example). This can be a huge issue, depending on where you life, your income, how you want to support a book, etc.
Publisher Rep, Author Interactions and General Ethics
This is some of the harder stuff to gauge, some of the time. Through social media and whisper networks, we learn a lot about both publishing housing and the professions that work there, but also authors themselves. (The access we have to authors is an entirely different discussion.) It’s not always cut and dry. nor honest (as all social media is curated).
But, I’d be lying if I said the fallowing didn’t influence my opinion about a book.
- Publisher Rep: If a publisher treats their workers poorly, it makes me want to support them less. Given that most of publishing is shit, this one is hard. But I have imprints that I trust and ones that I avoid based on what I’ve learned about their practices.
- Author Interactions: Let me be clear. This does NOT mean that I will only support authors who talk, interact or follow me on socials. I am not owed that, nor is that a fair standard. Yet this DOES mean is when I notice an author being genuinely kind on socials, I truly do notice. I’ve bought books solely because I remember the author’s kindness and want to support them. If they’re an asshole on socials, especially to bloggers? You’re damn right that’s remembered, too.
- General Ethics: Related, to author interactions on social media and their reputation, but if an author’s values go against supporting those most marginalized and targeted, I’m not really interested in their books. Likewise, if I learn they use AI for their writing, editing or art, it’s an automated no.
What Doesn’t Influence Me
So, as you can see, there’s certainly more than one factor in play regarding my reading influences. (Honestly, I think I could list more!) But I wanted to take a quick moment to highlight a few areas that just…I don’t think about, really, when deciding if I want to read a book or not.
Hype and Popularity
Call me embracing my hipster nature here, but I just don’t care. If a book is super hyped, it almost has the opposite affect and makes me want to read it a little less. (Especially if it’s not hitting all the above.) So if the main marketing strategy is, “But everyone’s talking about it,” you will not induce FOMO in me to get that book. Sorry.
In relation to Chuck Wendig’s post (I, thankfully, missed the disc horse around blurbs; this time). Honesty, I almost never look at blurbs. I notice them more if they are positioned on a weird spot on the cover and I don’t like the way it looks. But I almost never get a book purely based off the blurb.
Now, an author I love or respect talking about it on social media? That’s a bit different. Blurbs, to me, often feel so generic that I just move right on past them. Yet championing a book enough to scream about it on your curated space almost always has heart to it. I relate to heart.
Reviews and Rankings (Sorta)
I am not the person who goes and immediately checks a book’s ranking on Goodreads to determine if I want to read it or not. Nor do I like reading reviews ahead of time. This is precisely because I know they could influence me and I don’t want them to. I want to use the criteria above to determine if I want to read a book first. After I read it, then I’ll check out what others thought and if my experience matched or varied. Not before.
Okay, so apparently I go not writing discussions for a few months and my first one back is a behemoth. Oops. 😅
But, I hope you still enjoyed this post about my personal reading influences and how I use them, in a sense. I am SO curious how many align with your own. Or, if you’ve ever even stopped to consider what your reading influences might be. How do ours differ? Tell me in the comments, as I would love to know and I miss interacting with everyone!
I can’t promise I’m back back, in terms of blogging. But I’m trying! Which is gonna be enough, for now.