Girls Write Out
Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Have you ever watched a customer browsing the novel section in a bookstore? It's interesting, to say the least. I do it all the time because the author in me wants to know what makes a person want to a particular book?

As for me, I have two approaches. The first is the easiest and has to do with the author's name. There are a handful of authors whose books are automatically put on my must buy list simply because they have proven themselves to me. I've read two or three of their books and they have convinced me that every book they write is worth my time. But my favorite authors don't write fast enough to keep me busy, so then I resort to the selection method.

I enter the novel section and browse the books that are face-out. Rarely do I look at the spine-out books and each time I pray my own books aren't tucked into the shelves, hidden from other novel browsers like me. (If I happen run across a friend's book who is spine out, I turn it face-out--hey, what are friends for?)

Next, I scan the covers for my favorite genre: women's fiction with a thread of romance. When I find one that fits the bill, I read the title and look at the author's name to see if she has disappointed me in the past. If not, I pick it up and read the back cover copy looking for something intriguing and unique. And romance. It must have romance.

If the book still has my interest, I open the book, not necessarily to page one--I know the effort authors make on page one. I'm more interested if they can make page 127 good. One of the primary things I look for inside the book is short paragraphs and white space (dialogue). I HATE long chunky paragraphs of introspection and description. Even if the book has all the other elements going for it (cover, title, author, cover copy), I'll put it down quicker than a golf club on a stormy day if there's no white space. If, on the other hand, the book has passed each of these tests, I very happily take it to the counter to purchase it.

So, that's my method. What's yours? What's most important to you when you're selecting a novel? The author's name? The genre? The cover copy? Inquiring authors want to know.

Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:35 AM  
  Comments (9)
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At 10:00 AM, Blogger Katie Hart said...

As a reviewer, the whole process starts way before I enter a bookstore. I get an email list of books to review. I scan the list, looking for the books I HAVE to read - books by favorite authors, new authors I know, sequels to books I love, and intriguing books I've heard are coming out. If that doesn't make the list too long, I look up novels I don't know on Amazon to see if I want to give them a try.

Quite often these books are ARCs, so sometimes if I really want the finished copy of a book (usually part of a series) I'll sometimes wait on the books I'm not as anxious to read, hoping I'll be able to review them at a later date, when the "real" book is out.

Books I purchase are usually an author's earlier works that are unavailable to review. Many booksellers don't have them in stock, so I have to turn to online sellers. But as a freelance writer, money is scarce, so I usually just wait and hope I'll run across them at a book sale. I'll really be glad when I can afford to buy books new (I can read two 300-page books a day, so it's kind of expensive) to support the authors I love with my money as well as my words (reviews).

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Jaime said...

I'm a sucker for a pretty cover. It's actually a BAD habit because some of the best books I've read have boring covers and a few of the worst have more story in the cover than they do in the pages.

In fact, I'm SUCH a sucker for covers, that when I sit at my computer to write on my books that I dream of publishing one day but never quite can convince anyone to read (that must mean I'm REALLY BAD!!! :) ... anyway, I have HAVE TO DESIGN THE BOOK COVER FIRST! With a background in graphic arts, I have what I think are amazing book covers (of course, I'm biased) that make me want to read my own books. My husband said to ditch the writing idea and find a job designing book covers, i'm so obsessed with book covers.

Did I mention book covers yet?

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Julie Carobini said...

I admit that I look at covers too. But now that I'm writing novels myself, I do more digging, like Denise mentioned. I DO read the first page, but then I flip through a bit and see if I'm still interested mid-way...kind of like when writing my own, hahaha.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger K.Michelle said...

As someone who is now working on a book of her own, I have developed a method that has never steered me wrong.

I will log onto sites like Barnes & Noble or and search for a book that I like--one that's been proven a good read by myself or someone equally as intelligent.

Then when you search for the book, they will show you other titles purchased by customers who bought the book you looked for.

By doing this with a Karen Kingsbury book, I found out about Kristin Billerbeck, which led me to this website, and here I found three other equally as awesome authors.

I have discovered mounds of awesome books and authors through this method and even found books by Elizabeth George that has been such a God-send for my prayer life.

As far as going into bookstores, if the cover is fun, then I'll read the back cover copy. If it sounds interesting, then I'll read a little in the book, and make my decision. If I find more than one book in this manner, I usually buy them all, but if cash flow is down, I'll do heads or tails.

Don't laugh, it always works out.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

I always go to the used book stores first (sorry :)) and browse through. If a title catches my eye, then I pull it out and look at the back cover. If the cover catches my eye, then I open and read the first page. If that still interests me I usually get it (cause if its used its usually less than $6 anyway).

If I like the book, then I see if the author's written anything else. If I like her/his second book, he/she ends up on my "favorites" list and I'll go to the regular bookstore to see what I can afford to get new.

If I am browsing at Books-A-Million, for a new book/author, etc...I go through the same motion of what catches my eye, what the back cover says, and then I read the first couple of pages (not just the first page) and skim through it a bit, since buying new is usually much more expensive.

Can I ask a really rude question? BAMM has a huge area of discount books and I browse it a lot-and a lot of times there is some Christian you guys still get your royalties on those discounted books? I really hope you do....I'd hate to find out I've "stiffed" some of my favorite authors for a 5 buck savings =)

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

I just wander the bookstores. Barnes & Noble is my favorite, and I look at the new hardbacks, see if there's anything new, or anything I heard buzz on (perhaps from People Magazine.)

If a book is touted as important? Oh my gosh, I put it down faster than a scorpio. Important to me equates with boring. My mom also gives me her hardbacks when she's done with them. This month I read:
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Anybody out There?
The Men I didn't Marry.
Blindsided (about a guy with MS --NF)
Madea Uninhibited (LOVED IT!!!)
And She Was (Cindy Dyson -- bought it for the cover)
An Indecent Obsession (Colleen McCullough -- bought it because of Thorn Birds.

I'd really only recommend Madea this month. What a fabulous read!!! I want to be Tyler Perry! Oh and I bought that book because I LOOOVED "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"

Also reading an ARC by Shane Johnson called Heretic (FABULOUS!) and I read a historical by Jane Orcutt called "All THe Tea in China" also fabulous!

At 6:35 AM, Blogger KimW said...

I have a favorite author's list and I always have those releases on my TBB list. The rest of the books come from reading excerpts on websites or in newsletters etc. If it sounds good, it goes on the list. When I go to the bookstore, as tempting as it is, I just buy from my list. If I see something else that catches my eye, I write it down and go home and read about it first. Then if I like it, it goes on the list. Like you, it must have romance in it. That's the only type of stories that I like to read.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous elizabeth said...

Like Jaime, I'm a sucker for a good cover. I especially like ones that have the face(s) of the main character(s) or at least some other interesting scene. Of course, I don't choose the book for the cover, but my choosing process is pretty much covered by others' posts.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Bethanie said...

well... i walk in to the christian bookstore (only place i usually buy books). i go to the fiction section (ti's right by the door!!) and i look for my favourite authors to see if they have new books or any books that i have not read by them out. then i look at authors around them, and look for interesting covers. and then i go to the bargain section and get a bunch of super cheap books (so i never walk out without at least 5 novels, i'm hopeless) and i generally buy a couple of books that are under $5 or so. usually these are really bad, but they are something read - i'm reading a hopeless one right now.

and after THAT i just browse and look around till a cover and a blurb tickles my fancy.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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