So our experiment in interviewing avid readers continues. For those who missed the first week, the idea came to me that I’ve always concentrated on introducing you to new authors and books. The focus has always been on them. But I couldn’t help wondering about what readers thought…what makes them really like a book or not like a book. I wanted to know what they thought about current trends in publishing and whether or not it affected them or not. So, I sent out a call for volunteers. I asked for rabid readers who do not typically write themselves or have a blog about books and then asked them a series of ten questions. The responses I’ve received so far have been extremely enlightening.
Authors, you might want to pay careful attention to what these people are saying. Readers, what about you? Do the opinions of these readers match up with your own? Be sure to comment and let me know what you think.
But for now, let me introduce you to “Voracious Reader #2″…the cute as a button, smart as a whip, and honest as…well, something that’s honest…Aislynn Turnbull. I first met Aislynn on Facebook while marketing my own books within the various Destination Truth fan pages. Aislynn is a diehard Destination Truth fan, but she’s also an extremely avid reader. What’s more…I don’t think there is anyone who has championed the cause of telling people about Seven Realms’ books like Aislynn. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all she’s done for me…even when she’s been honest with me and told me she wasn’t too thrilled with this book or that cover, etc. That’s right. She definitely tells it like it is…which is why I love using her for one of my test readers whenever I’m about to release a book. So, I definitely wanted to get her take on the world of the reader.
Here’s what she had to say in her interview:
1) If you had to choose your favorite genre of fiction, what would it be? Why do you prefer it over others?
Fantasy. Without a doubt, fantasy is my favorite. There is something about exploring the subconscious of the writer (I feel that that’s where a good amount of the fantasy grows before it’s big enough to be noticed by the conscious mind) that totally thrills me.
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?
Horror is my least favorite. I won’t touch them, I won’t even think about touching them. When I read, I really tend to lose myself in the story and can have a hard time separating myself from the character and events in a story.
To be honest, I have trouble with that with most aspects of every day life. If someone shows me and injury and describes how they got it, my corresponding body part will start tingling and aching and the sensations will last until I can forget about it.
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?
I have several “favorites”, but the first that comes to mind is _The Black Jewels Trilogy_ by Anne Bishop.
I’m struggling to find the right words to describe the story. However, I can say I like the characters because though they are strong, they are also flawed. Each main character is a person who does not conform to the current trends of society, but instead follow their own codes of honor and morality. They’re not righteously perfect and make mistakes, but seem to manage to be true to themselves through all adversity.
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.
A: Since I currently can’t stop by my local Barnes & Noble, I purchase a lot of ebooks. When I’m choosing to purchase the book, I read other customer reviews. If there are enough glowing reviews, I’ll purchase the book.
B: If the book happens to have no reviews or less than a handful, the price then factors in. I won’t purchase ebooks that cost more than $4. While I may be missing out on a great story, I don’t want to spend that much unless I’m purchasing a tangible book. To some it doesn’t make a difference, but to me, I just need that sensory justification.
C: If I am at an actual book store and I’m interested in a book, I read a couple pages in the beginning of the book and I also read the ending. I need to be able to close a book on an uplifted note, I hate feeling depressed after a book (or a movie). Also, I want to know if it’s a cliff hanger. If it is, I’ll wait to purchase until I know when the next book will be out.
D: I am also attracted to pretty covers and a well written synopsis. One book that took me over a year to purchase was _Kushiel’s Dart_ by Jacqueline Carey. Every time I was at Barnes & Noble, the cover would catch my eye and I’d pull it off the shelf. I’d then turn it over to read the synopsis on the back cover… after reading that synopsis, I would put the book back, determining that it wasn’t for me and I would purchase another book. Finally, I ended up without other books to purchase and decided since I had picked up that book at least 10 times before, it was time I purchased it. I am so glad I did. That series turned out to be a favorite for both me AND my husband.
5) Who is your favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you like so much?
Xena, the Warrior Princess. Totally love her. You might giggle, and, to be honest, I’m okay with that.
She made a conscious decision to change her lifestyle. She didn’t just fall into a new habit that turned her into a heroine. She made a choice to become a different person, someone she could be proud of. Which is impressive because you don’t just make that choice once, you have to make it every day, multiple times a day, for the rest of your life. Often, making the choice to do right isn’t popular and you can be ostracized by most of your peers. However, she faced all that head on.
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?
Currently, they’re the only site I purchase ebooks through. However, I get scared any time I hear about a company seeking a monopoly on something.
7) How important is a great book cover to you? What are some of your favorite book covers?
Super important to me. I love a pretty book. I do wish that books about dragons and wizards and stuff would be sold in a book cover that looked like a spell book or like the book out of _The Never Ending Story_.
Much of my favorite cover art was done bye Luis Royo. But I really would like a book cover as I described above.
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 don’t take those blurbs seriously at all. Really, they don’t sway me one way or the other. I just don’t get the feeling like other authors are credible sources of judgement. I’m not sure why I feel that way, I just do.
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 love indie authors. I like their writing because you get to read less cookie cutter books and meet characters that have more dimension than the mainstream ones. That’s not to say the more traditional authors all have bad books, but I feel like they may be pushed to fit a mold more than an indie author is.
I don’t have any particular favorites at this time, though.
10) If you could give only ONE piece of advice to authors/publishers out there, what would it be?
This one is for the indie authors: Have someone proof read the book for you. Several someones.
For authors in general: Don’t conform. I want to see through another’s eyes, I don’t want the same book over and over again with different names.
Thank you Aislynn, for taking the time to answer these questions. And for you guys who read this blog, I’d pay extra special attention to her recommendations. If she likes something…you should check it out. She has great taste!
So that’s it for today. I’ll try to get another interview by another reader up later this week. I also have a couple of awesome author interviews coming up too, so stay tuned!