by Liz Talley
Often, publishers want to know what turns you on when it comes to books. It's pretty valuable information for not only the people buying, editing and marketing fiction, but for authors, too. Knowing what people want in a book helps us create works that will end up in readers' hands and not dusty and lonely on the shelf.
This past week in my local writing chapter, one of the members created a little questionnaire asking "What made you buy the last book you purchased?" and though it got me thinking about why I buy particular books, it also made me think about why I don't buy a book.
I have to say that I am different today than I was 7-8 years ago. Well, duh. I'm older, heavier (boo!) and not really much wiser (think I'm losing brain cells), but the most obvious difference is way back then I was merely a reader. My only exposure to the publishing world was in holding the product. The book. Being a writer (whether published or unpublished) changes you a little. Oh, I still love to read, but I pick books differently, and honestly, I'm less tolerant of bad or lazy writing. But even more than that, being "in the know" has changed the way I look at writers which in turn affects how I buy books.
So, you may be asking, "What's your point?" (Don't worry. Most people in my life ask that...quite often.)
My point is there are a few reasons I won't buy a writer....and many of them have nothing to do with the actual writing.
One thing that keeps me from buying a writer (even one that everyone thinks is the bomb diggity) is the way she/he behaves on social media. If I follow an author on Twitter who drops the "f" bomb left and right and engages in lots of dirty talk, it bothers me. I'm no Puritan, but it does offend me. I also don't like anyone who brings religion or politics into their tweets or posts. And, I can't stand for someone to crack jokes at other peoples' expense just so she can be deemed witty. Before Twitter I bought their books. After following them, I've given those books away and not dropped another dime on their books. Just can't do it.
Another peeve on FB and Twitter is the constant promoter. She/He has nothing more to say than "Buy my book!" If all I get from an author is "I'm on this list!" or "I'm the best-seller on this!" or "My self-pubbed book is selling better than ____," I'm not likely to buy your book. I'm not saying authors shouldn't post good news, but if that's ALL you post (aka, you're only using social media for promotion) then you're likely doing more harm than good. I'm a reader and I want interaction. I want to feel like I'm part of your life, not just some yokel targeted as a consumer.
And finally, the biggest reason I won't buy your book. No, it's not because it's not good. It's because you weren't nice when I met you.
I get that most readers don't get the chance to meet authors, and if they do, it's likely one or two. But because I'm now an author and I often get to mix and mingle with other authors at conferences, I do get the chance to check out the face behind the name. There have been many times that I've approached an author that I LOVE only to find her not so nice. In fact, I've felt slighted and a little like a bug that appeared on her plate. That's a really bad feeling - to go all fan-girl on an author only to find that she barely smiles at you and seems bothered by your presence. That happened to me....and I've never bought another one of her books (And I had EVERY one of them up until that time.) She lost a fan because she couldn't take a minute to chat with me about why I LOVED her writing.
Okay, I admit, those above reasons for not buying an author are pretty personal. Can my mind be changed? Sure. I'm not immature....much. I know that some of those things involve my pride or my personal tastes. And there are other reasons I won't buy books. Some have storylines that don't interest me. Some have bad backcover blurbs. Some just don't float my boat. Let's face it, there are as many people out there who don't like my writing as there are who love it. (I know. Unbelievable, huh? LOL)
So your turn....what turns you off a particular author? Theme? Plausibility? Bad hair? Actual writing style? Repetition? Repetition?