Welcome to a very special edition of my blog. This week, I’ll be starting a very different (and I hope unique) series. You guys know what I typically do here on this site. I feature a new author or book or series and try to provide interviews with those same authors so that you’ll be introduced to books you might never have heard of otherwise. It’s a lot of fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed plenty of the books/authors we’ve featured in the past two years. [Oh, by the way, last Tuesday was official this blogs two year anniversary!!]
But I got to thinking…all too often, we authors and publishers and book gurus and critics spend so much time talking about ourselves, our books, and trying to show how smart we are that we forget to talk about the thing that matters most of all to the publishing industry…the readers themselves. Personally, it’s a major pet peeve for me. Publishers tend to follow trends to the point of nausea. How many teen angst vampires are we going to have to be subjected to simply because it’s the hottest thing out there at the moment? [For you Twilight fans, that’s just an example…there are plenty of other trends that publishers saturate us with, but that’s the easiest example].
When I first started seriously pursuing writing, I pretty much had decided to do it all on my own. Still, I thought I would give the traditional method a shot at least once. I was fortunate in that the first publisher I sent my query to was actually interested in Primal Thirst…except…they didn’t like what I had done with the hero, Jack. They wanted me to change him. After all, according to this publisher, a hero can’t “be afraid”. He can’t be whiny. He can’t act anything but heroic. Readers won’t go for it, he said. That’s not what they want. And I thought to myself, who is this pompous goon to assume what ALL readers want in their hero?
It was with this in mind that I conceived of a grand little experiment. I’ve contacted several avid, die-hard, and voracious readers and I’ve interviewed them for a change. I’ve asked them the same series of questions in hopes of discovering what readers truly want. In hopes of discovering what exactly readers are looking for when they put down their hard-earned cash for our books. In hopes of giving these same readers (I’m glad to say that many of them are fans of my own books!) a chance to finally express their feelings about some of the major issues in publishing today, as well as simply offering their opinions on something as trivial as cover designs.
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to our first voracious reader, the lovely and gracious Ms. Jennifer Antle:
1) If you had to choose your favorite genre of fiction, what would it be? Why do you prefer it over others?
My favorite genre would be Horror novels. I prefer Horror because I’ve always liked to be spooked or read just how crazy some books can go. I grew up in the 80s/90s and the Nightmare on Elm series was huge. That I think sparked my love of Horror, movies and books alike. I also grew up when Stephen King’s books scared the bejesus out of me and alot of them still do. If a book can make me lay awake at night, it’s done the job it set up to do.
2) If you had to choose your LEAST favorite genre of fiction, what would it be? Why do you not prefer it over the others?
Westerns are my least favorite. I just don’t enjoy reading them. There are a few that I’ve read that are ok, but I just don’t delve into them nearly as deeply; I don’t get sucked in so they aren’t as fun to read for me.
3) What is your favorite book (or series of books)? Tell us a little about it. Why does it appeal to you so much? Does your favorite book correlate with your favorite author?
My favorite books right now are 33 A.D., 61 A.D., and AFTER by David McAffee. I enjoyed them because one, it’s in that Horror type realm and features vampires (but not sparkly ones… I want scary ones!!), and two because it took biblical events and put a new spin on them. What if the Crucifixion had a vampire story tied into it? Very different but fun to read. I am religious, and when I recommended the series to others, I had a few that were shocked that I could enjoy this but really, it’s a book, it’s made up, well done, and it’s story that I enjoyed and would read more in this line if they come. I can say McAffee is *one* of my favorites, thanks to all the books I do read, there are many, many authors I read but being that I read this series fairly recently and I really enjoyed it, it stuck with me.
I enjoy the different storylines, vampires, taking real events and twisting to a what if, cryptids… they are fun to read and take me away from the reality of life sometimes when I need it, which is why I read in the first place.
4) When you’re considering reading a book by an author you’ve never heard of, what are the primary factors you look for to help you make a decision? Give us a few factors and then rank them in terms of most important to least.
Factors I look at is the title, any reviews I can find on the book and/or the brief synopsis or back cover or book jacket flap, if it’s a print book, telling me a little about the book and the cover art.
The most important to me is the description (does it spark some interest?), then the reviews (which I take with a grain of salt as I may well enjoy it and others didn’t, but if a book has mostly one star reviews, there could be something to that… ), and then last the actual title and the cover art. Because I read on my Kindle, the cover art I see briefly so while it may grab me to take a quick look to buy it, I don’t put ALOT of importance on it, but I do check it out.
Alot of Indie authors the cover is not all that spectacular but the book is amazing… so cover art is really not that huge for me.
5) Who is your favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you like so much?
Jack “Pagan” Henderson from Andrew Chapmans Pagan and Crusader. He’s an atheist, is worn out, tired tough, and just plain has a crappy job, he hunts Vampires, but he’s finding love, however odd that it is and doing what he enjoys while dealing with being a “hero” to others. It’s a fun read and his character just amuses me.
6) What is your take on the whole Amazon vs. the world thing? By this, I mean, there’s a great deal of buzz about how Amazon is trying to establish a monopoly and corner the entire book industry. They’re probably the biggest book seller. They started their own publishing company. And now they’re trying to get authors to sell their ebooks exclusively through them. How do you feel about this? Does it concern you? Why or why not?
At this point it doesn’t seriously concern me, as the books I do read I get through Amazon on my Kindle. I love my Kindle Fire and have had every model of Kindle but the first generation. I have had the Sony Reader and played with a Nook. I prefer Kindle. I wasn’t aware until recently about the exclusivity issues out there that authors are facing.
I see more and more free and discounted books that are available solely on Kindle vs Nook or other reader so I of course can see the issue at hand. I have noticed since first getting my Kindle that books that used to be fairly inexpensive since they were ebooks, the prices are going up as publishers see the market and can price them up. If Amazon pushed the exclusivity issue more, I would probably start getting concerned more so than I am now, because if I can’t get a book from a specific author just because Amazon wants them to sell only through them, then there’s an issue. Each person is going to want to use their own preferred reader, whether it be an IPad, Nook, Kindle or Sony reader.
I also find it odd that I can get certain paperback books cheaper than the Amazon Kindle edition. I think that is an issue… the demand is there for digital books but really; there’s no paper, not ink… so not sure why the print version is cheaper….
7) How important is a great book cover to you? What are some of your favorite book covers?
|Brand new Sirens’ Song cover!|
A great book cover isn’t all that important, because again, Kindle (Fire you can see it when you first get the book, or on the main screen, but it’s not that huge to me), on my regular Kindle, never really saw them. When shopping for a book, sometimes a cover will snag me to read a little more about the book, but it’s not all that hugely important to me personally.
Fave covers, Lucifer’s Lottery, Sentinel by Jeremy Bishop/Jeremy Robinson, Siren’s song, yep it made my favorite list, Codex by Preston and Amazonia by James Rollins. Nora Roberts/JD Robb has some good covers too.
8 ) Whenever you look at a book, you’ll often see blurbs written by other authors endorsing that particular book. Blurbs like “A rollercoaster thrill ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat.” How seriously do you take these blurbs? Are you more prone to read a book if your favorite author has endorsed it or not? Why?
I read them, but I don’t necessarily think I’m more prone to reading it just because author X endorsed it. He or she may have enjoyed it but that doesn’t mean I will. I read those, user reviews (trying to skip spoilers is very important to me) but once again, take those blurbs and endorsements and reviews with a grain of salt. Had I read up on some reviews on one specific book I read, I could have saved $8 and several days of wasted reading. The book got “rave reviews” and endorsements listed on the cover/jacket but the book was AWFUL. I read it hoping it would get better. I literally threw it across the room when I was done I was so irked at how poorly written and all over the place it was. (thankfully this was before the Kindle came to live in my house). Going to the reviews on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and a few other sites AFTER reading it, 99% of people that posted said the same type of things. I could have saved some time and money if I had not relied on the endorsements! And having read those, made me wonder, why in the hell would an author endorse a book so over the top, all over the place, hanging story lines, and just plain poorly written??
9) We live in an interesting time in regards to books and publishing. Indie authors are becoming just as successful as the big named authors by big named publishers. Have you ever read any books by indie authors? What are your impressions of them? Do you have any favorite indie authors that you like more than the mainstream authors? Why? What appeals to you about them? If you have never read any books by indie authors, what might entice you to do so?
I have read alot of indie authors recently with the advent of the ereader in my house! Alot of them are offered at a lower price or even free and I’ve found that I am reading so many more books outside the “normal” genre, while I love my horror books, I’ve read a few Romance, (they were ok), and some other mystery and various other types of books by Indie authors. There is one book I read recently, Darcie Chan’s Mill River Recluse that I just loved. I’m looking forward to another book from her, and the book subject AND the writing was great. I read another book recently by a mainstream author and it seemed like she just took a subject and beat it to death in her series and it was really unbelievable by this book. It was a rough read and it just was an unlikely story line and it took me alot of time to read.
Indie authors appeal to me, alot like other authors just because I’m always looking for another good book to read.
The other issue it seems with self-published authors, the books tend to make it to the readers sooner. If they go through a huge publisher, those publishers are handling tons of books, then there’s the media hype, and it just takes forever for the book to hit “the stands”. I’ve *heard* but since I’m not involved in this world, I’m not sure, that self-publishing takes some steps out of the equation and books can be released sooner. Works for me if this is the case, because I am a fast and voracious reader!
10) If you could give only ONE piece of advice to authors/publishers out there, what would it be?
One piece of advice for authors, keep writing. If you have a loyal fan base, most of them will keep reading your works and recommending your books if they keep on delivering!
Thanks Jennifer! I truly appreciate your taking the time to answer these questions for me.
And for you guys who follow my blog, it will really be interesting to see the other results in this series of interviews. Do others follow Jennifer’s line of reasoning when it comes to reviews or indie authors? Do they judge books by their covers or by the blurbs/word of mouth? I, for one, can’t wait to find out! So be expecting me to post these reader interviews sporadically from time to time (in between my regular author features!).
And as always, guys…thank you for making this page so successful. Like I said earlier, last week was our two year anniversary and we’ve grown by leaps in bounds in those two years. We’re averaging about 200 hits per week now and are close to about 18,000 all time page views. Please keep sharing this page with your reader friends and I will continue to try to provide great interviews for you.