The Habits of Readers

What makes you want to read a book? For me, there’s one sure way to guarantee I’ll read a book: if it’s by an author I’ve read and enjoyed before. That’s a safe bet. But for a new (or new-to-me) author, what’s a good way to get me to pick up the book–and then make an even bigger investment of time and money–and buy it?

The cover of the book is one way. It’s hard to place too much importance on the book cover. Honestly, I can’t even tell you the number of book covers that have intrigued me enough to actually buy the book. Here are three book covers that intrigued me enough to buy the book:

Before I Wake, by Rachel Vincent
Before I Wake, by Rachel Vincent
Flirting with Forty, by Jane Porter
Flirting with Forty, by Jane Porter
Alice in Zombieland, by Gena Showalter
Alice in Zombieland, by Gena Showalter

There aren’t really any common elements between. They are all just really well-done covers. If it catches my eye on a bookshelf, at the very least I’ll pick it up, flip it over, and read the back cover copy.

Cover copy is another way to attract readers. Last week, I saw the blurb for Coleen Patrick’s new book Come Back to Me:

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

 She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning-after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy. A happy she ruined. A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.

I was so intrigued by the description of the book, I clicked on the link and bought it immediately (Great read, btw!)  Again, there’s no list of ingredients for how to write great cover copy, but using active descriptions instead of boring passive-voice is a must, as is giving the reader just enough details to whet their appetite (and have them chasing the carrot).

A great title is also a way to get me to commit to a book.  Gena Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland is a fantastic example of this.  I would have bought this for the title alone (even without the great cover and fantastic cover copy).  As a writer, coming up with the perfect title is something I tend to obsess about, so I love to check out other authors’ titles, hoping to find something that will give my own Muse a nudge in the right direction.

What about you?  What gets you reading?

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2 thoughts on “The Habits of Readers

  1. I think you have it covered. I do take one more step. I like to read the first paragraph or so just to ensure I like the “voice” of the author. And I’ve seen your synapses writing…I think your a pro in that department.

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    1. Thanks, Raymond! If I’m undecided on the book, based on the cover and the cover copy, I’ll read the first paragraph or so, but if I’m hooked already, I’ll just go with it. I should probably start reading a bit before I buy, but I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

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