Time to talk BOOKS. What’s in your
wallet, I mean in your summer to-be-read list?
I know some commented that the books nominated for a particular award looked intriguing and they planned on adding them to their book list immediately. I love hearing that. One of the best parts of contests is that the books that make the finals cut get more exposure. Many people who would not have otherwise heard about the books, now know that there’s a new title out there worth exploring.
Besides contest nominations, though, I think one of the strongest influences on my book-reading choices (and I think others, too. I sort of remember running a poll about this some years ago) are recommendations from friends. If someone I know and respect tells me the book is good, I am much more likely to read it than not.
But then there are the recommendations—we call them endorsements—by various people willing to have their words printed in the books themselves, for potential buyers to consider. I wonder how effective those are. If I were to judge from my own experience, I’d say, endorsements matter. I have two writing instruction books in ebook, the first with a nice list of endorsements and the second without any. Guess which book sold better? Of course, that’s only one example, and the price difference might have had as much to do with sales as the endorsements.
I do wonder, though, when people shop on line and look inside a book, do they turn to the opening pages of the novel or do they take time to look at endorsements?
In the past, I know endorsements could sell me or could turn me away from a book. Now? I don’t know if they are as visible and therefore if they have as much influence.
What does have influence is reviews by readers, at Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Christianbooks.com, the Lorehaven magazine, and other places where readers give input. While some people hate the one or two star reviews, I often seek them out. Maybe not first, but after I’ve read a glowing review or two, I want to know what those brave enough to say they didn’t care for a book had to say about it.
Some times the reasons are bogus. The reviewer didn’t actually read the whole book but decided a bad review was still OK to give. Or the reader was turned off because they disagreed with the character’s choices—never mind that the back cover copy clearly tells you what the character is up against and what they will aim at. When I get to that point, I think, this reviewer just convinced me he’s not a careful or discerning reader, so why should I care about his opinion.
Apart from those reviews, the two- and even three-star reviews can give some insight about what worked and what didn’t work in a book. So I find those helpful. Not as helpful as a friend putting a book in front of me and saying, you HAVE to read this book. But still helpful.
All this to say, here’s an opportunity for us to make those recommendations to Spec Faith readers for their summer reading list, especially about the books we’ve most recently read.
Are they speculative? I know I don’t read exclusively in the speculative genre. I don’t read exclusively in the Christian books category, though I have done so much more since I became a writer.
The problem I have, as I may have mentioned before, is that I act as a judge in a number of contests, so if I told you what I’m reading and what I’d recommend, I’d have to gag you until the winner announcements came out. For instance, last year I judged the delightful YA fantasy, Escape to Vindor by Emily Golus, but of course at the time I could tell no one. As it happens, it won last year’s Selah award in the YA Fiction category.
The point is, I pretty much can’t pass along my recommendations, at least not right now, but summer is such a good time to have a book handy on a Sunday afternoon or when heading off for vacation or to that annual visit to the relatives. They’re good also when you can’t get away and need a break from the grind. Books introduce us to new places and to new friends.
So tell us what you’re reading, what you’d recommend to others for their summer book list. Tell us the books you like and why you think others should read them too. FYI, we have a Facebook page too, so you can leave a comment either here or there. We’re counting on you!