What turns you off or attracts you to a book?
I am attracted by the cover, but cover design is not really the topic of this post.
I was just reading some comments on a forum describing what kind of things quickly turned people off from reading or finishing a romance book. While I agree with some of them – rape, Bdsm, etc. – as those things have nothing whatsoever to do with romance. I found a few of those commenting were very closed minded and full of preconceived prejudices and misconceptions. As this forum was on a major reading website I can’t think that these people were novice readers. It seems that today, some people want to read only certain kind of books that are exactly like all of the other books that they have read, they seem less open to a variation within a genre let alone a different genre altogether. And yet, these are the same people who complain that a book is stereotypical or cliché. I even agree with them to a certain extent. There is a lot to be said for comfort reading; books that you are familiar with they type even if you haven’t read that particular story. I have some comfort reads, I admit. I also like to read some books that I am not so comfortable with, when I am in the mood for a change.
I have to laugh as sometimes the very same people write contradictory comments. Example: the commenter who first says they won’t read a book if they get the impression from the description that they know which two characters end up together from the onset, because that takes all of the mystery and conflict away from the story. Later, that same commenter says they won’t read a book where either the Hero or the Heroine is supposed to marry someone else before they end up marring the Hero/Heroine, because they want the book to only mention the romance between the Hero and Heroine. They didn’t want the characters having conflicted feelings.
Although, I can understand that the reader wants to retain some mystery and suspense, I say that knowing which people end up together at the onset doesn’t ruin the story, not if done well. I think what the commenter forgets is that each author is different and while yes it is true that some authors cannot keep the suspense going if they let us know who ends up together from the beginning. There are in fact, some authors who can pull this off very well, as they make the suspense about finding out “how” the couple gets together and not “if” they end up together.
As I read so many of these forum comments, and they are all so different from each other, my basic impression is solidified that while one person loves this thing and hates that thing, yet another person’s loves and hates are completely the reverse. As a writer, you can’t write to please your readers, for just when you start to think you know what they want, it turns out that is the book of yours that they like the least. You can’t write for the masses, they are fickle and possibly they don’t even know what they like until they read it, and they may never pick up your book in the first place.
I think a writer has to write for themselves. What kind of book would you like to read that you have never read before? And once you can answer that question, then go ahead and write it. That is what I did with my book, Dear Tiz. I combined certain elements that I liked from books in varying genres, essentially making my book a conglomeration of many genres. As I had to pick only one genre for listing purposes, I chose Christian Historical Romance. It is that, but it is also so much more than that.
In my reading experience, each book has to stand alone and on its own merit. As I do not like every book written by my favorite authors, sometimes I like a solitary work by an author I would normally stay far, far away from. One such author is Stephen King. I don’t like his mindset, I don’t like his underlying agendas, and I don’t like his writing style, but sometimes I really like one or two of his stories almost in spite of the man himself. Would I buy any of his books? I have in the past bought a few, even though I knew I didn’t like him. Do I regret the purchase? No, because I purchased them with my eyes wide open and knowing full well that I would not like some things about his books. Why did I purchase them instead of borrowing them from the library. So I could read them on my Kindle, of course.