When I visit a bookstore or Amazon, I browse thousands of books. The first thing that catches my attention is the cover. Then, I look at the title. If both appeal to me, I’ll read the blurb.
At that point, if the book sounds good, I might purchase the book if the cost is right.
During this process, there are a lot of factors at work, influencing my decisions. I thought I would share with you what some of those are. My list is not in any particular order.
10 Reasons Why I Would Pass on a Book
1. Very Long Title
Although I do have some books on my TBR with long titles, I generally avoid them.
The reason for this is because I tend to write a lot of book lists, and long titles don’t fit neatly on the lists. For example, Magic Burns fits in the title box on my spreadsheet, but Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemmingway’s Ghost does not. Strange reason, I know, but it’s a factor (albeit a minor one).
2. The Word “Part” or “Episode” in the Title
When titles include the word “episode” or the word “part,” it makes me think of serials. I don’t like serials because they are usually to-be-continued or have major cliffhangers.
The author wants to suck you in and make you buy more parts in order to get the entire story. I feel this is manipulative, so I avoid them altogether.
Even if the author discloses the cliffhanger, I wouldn’t read it. I guess I’m old-school because I want the book to be whole, not in pieces I have to buy separately.
I know not every book with the word “part” or “episode” in the title is like this. Still, I probably wouldn’t take the time to find out one way or the other. I would pass on a book with either of those words in the title.
Another reason I don’t like them is because they represent the impatience in our culture. Why can’t people wait anymore until the author writes the entire book?
3. One Word Author Name
It might have worked for musicians like Madonna, Prince, Cher, and Eminem. In my opinion, it doesn’t work for authors. Perhaps this will become a thing, but I don’t like it. I guess I expect more professionalism rather than showmanship from authors.
Rationally, I know this is a dumb reason to not read a book, but it’s a just-because kind of thing.
It’s also probably because I wouldn’t have anything to put in the last name field on my lists. OCD much?
Still, I would pass on a book written by an author who doesn’t use a full name.
4. The Name of the Series and/or Genre(s) in the Title
Here’s a crazy example I’m making up just for this article:
Cloying Disease of the Mind: A Bob Grover and Leta Anton Series Military Heroes/Psychological Thriller/Supernatural Romantic Suspense Novel
Really? Is all that necessary? Not to mention titles like this give me whiplash. Couldn’t the author decide on a genre?
I know my title is made up, but I have seen stuff like this on Amazon.
Another reason the name of the series being in the title bothers me is that it gets confusing sometimes. I don’t know which is the name of the series and which is the name of the book.
Massage Master: Under the Skin
Is Massage Master or Under the Skin the name of the book? In most cases, the first part is the name of the series, but that’s not always true.
Sometimes I can’t tell until I look it up on Goodreads. If I have to go through that much effort to figure it out, then I will probably get mad and skip the book entirely.
5. A Comparison to a Popular Book
Often, comparisons to other books are made in the blurb. I don’t like them at all, but they’re even worse when they are in the title.
I’ll use my earlier example again to show you what I mean:
Cloying Disease of the Mind (the next Dark Places, plus supernatural, military, smokin’-hot guys)
If the blurb goes on to say how much I am going to love the book, how great it is, or how it is as good or better than another book, I will usually skip it. Just because.
6. Title or Cover Implies BDSM, Menage, or Other Erotica
I know these types of books have a growing fan base. I’m not into them and never will be.
Titles like: Ravaged by the Coven; My Stepbrother’s Pleasure; Horny Harpy in Silver Chains; Whipped by the Werewolf; The Fox and the Pound; or Back Door Barbecue… Chances are, I wouldn’t enjoy reading those books. (Of course, I made up these titles too.)
These titles could mean something entirely different, so I do take covers into consideration as well. For example, if Back Door Barbecue shows a woman bending over a grill in a string bikini, it’s definitely a book I would pass on. On the other hand, if it shows a little old lady looking out the back door at her family cooking hotdogs, I might be interested in seeing what it’s about.
7. Super-Short or Vague Blurb
I don’t need the whole back cover to be a description of the book. However, I need more than one or two lines. I’ve seen books with very short descriptions. Sometimes, I can’t tell what the book is even about.
Some authors seem to think that mystery in the blurb is a good thing. I don’t agree. Sure, don’t give away spoilers, but at least let the reader know what the general premise is.
Example: Danny struggles against a dark force while coming to terms with his secret.
I need more information than a blurb like that provides.
8. Unknown Character Age
It drives me crazy when I can’t tell if the book is Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult.
For example, a book has a cover with an intricate design that doesn’t show the character. Or, the cover has a woman, but you can’t tell how old she is. The blurb doesn’t say anything to indicate age.
Then, I go to read it, and find out the character is still in high school. That’s very aggravating, especially if the character is immature, shallow, or overly dramatic.
I wish all blurbs would include the character’s age. That way, if you don’t want to read about a sixty year old man when you are twenty, or you don’t want to read about a sixteen year old girl when you are forty, you can make an informed decision. Many authors do this, but there are still some who don’t.
9. Same Cover Models
Just on principle, I pass up books that have the same people on the cover as a bunch of other books. Maybe it’s because I have seen so many book covers. But, when I see these same models again and again, it drives me crazy. Don’t keep using the same two people (usually in the same clothes!) over and over in different poses. Put the guy with a different girl or the girl with a different guy. Or, at least do her hair different and put her in different clothes.
I can only think of the name of one author who has used these models. If you see one of the books, you might recognize them yourself. I’ve seen these models on many books by different authors. The book I linked to is one of the first I ever saw with the models, so it doesn’t bother me as much as all the other ones that have followed.
These aren’t the only models used repeatedly. I saw two books today by different authors that had the same male model in the same pose. I understand stock photos are cheaper, but they need to be made different somehow. Maybe a filter could be applied or the image could be flipped. Honestly, I don’t know if you’re allowed to modify the stock images, but it would be nice so I wouldn’t see the same thing over and over.
10. Same title, different cover and blurb or Same cover, different title
I put these together because they are similar. The first (same title, different cover and blurb) makes me question if the author is lazy or incompetent if he/she can’t come up with a different name for the next book. It also could relate to my earlier point about serials. If the book has the same title, but a different cover and blurb, it makes me wonder if it’s a continuation, in which case I would pass on reading the book.
The second (same cover, different title and blurb) makes me think the author is either really poor, which would be forgivable, or just doesn’t think the book is worth paying to have a new cover made for the next book in the series. Of course, there is no way for me to know why the author didn’t pay for a new cover. So, I usually just don’t bother with these books.
Am I Being Too Judgmental? Making Assumptions?
Most certainly. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great books because I’ve made assumptions or applied too many criteria for selection.
The sad truth is I don’t have time to read the blurb for every single book I come across. And I can’t read reviews on every book, either. So, I have to have a way to thin the herd, so to speak.
If the cover or title doesn’t appeal to me, I will probably never read the blurb. And if the blurb doesn’t appeal to me, I won’t go as far as reading reviews. Yes, I’m judgy, but it’s what I need to do. Otherwise, I’d spend hours and hours researching books, and I’d never get anything else done.
You may have noticed I didn’t talk about ugly covers. In this post, I wanted to focus on other things that play into my decision. Until I started thinking about this post, I didn’t even realize all the different criteria I use for deciding which books to read.
I hope you enjoyed reading my 10 reasons why I would pass on a book.
What kinds of things make you pass on reading a book?
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