Hey, Yo!

Formality. In the age of easy self-publishing and digital books, where has it gone? I understand addressing someone you know pretty well by first name. I understand addressing someone you don’t know by their first name if that’s what they introduce themselves as, or if they have a name tag with only their first name on it.

What I don’t understand, is the finer art of the email query in modern society and the digital age. If you want someone to do you a favor, or consider your work for publishing, or become your agent, your reviewer, your proofreader, editor, whatever role you wish them to play, can you not take the time to at least spell their name correctly and check to see if they even take the kind of work you are trying to push?

Bart Smith is an editor. Now, of course he would never be so narcissistic as to expect anyone to actually address him as Mr. Smith, and certainly not Mr. Smith, Editor in Chief, but he really hopes you will read through your email at least once before sending it, so that you do not end up with this:

“Dear Barf,”

or his other favourite:

“Dear Fart,”

Also, he is a science fiction editor. His profile says so. He has submission guidelines posted clearly on his website. So, please do not send him your book about how to create stunning quilts.

It is hard to get people to notice your work. We all know this. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to stand out. Rather than being cutesy and trying to address another busy person who is simply trying to get through their work day as if you have known them forever, or being funny (because we all know that makes us book professionals laugh,) try getting your foot in the door by spelling our name right. After that, ensure that we take your kind of offering, and find out if there are any other restrictions or guidelines you should be aware of. Are we closed to unsolicited submissions? Do we only accept books or certain kinds of books during specific months of the year? Are we accepting books at all?

I know. Who died and left me the pretentious bitch of the year award? I did. That’s who. I got hit in the head with a random book someone threw at me and it knocked me a good one on the temple. Coma. Very sad for my husband and kids. Please send condolences. When I came back from the other side and chose not to go toward the light, I made a decision. I’ve seen a library the size of Manhattan waiting for me when I die. Shelves and shelves of books that await me. I’ve got a library almost that big now, in fact. And I keep getting more and more queries (if one can call them that–Dear Lonia, Dear Tonia, Dear Reviewer, Hey! Sonia!) The only ones I look at are the ones where the person actually seems to be speaking to me.

A couple of final thoughts. Being careful and addressing someone properly as well as sending a good, clean query where everything is spelled right and geared toward the kind of work the person accepts will get you everywhere.

Do not keep emailing them if they do not respond to you right away. They could be ignoring you for a reason. They might just be busy. You don’t want to become an example used in this blog.

If you are sending out multiple queries at the same time, please remember to use the BCC function in your email. I do not want to know that you sent this email out to a thousand other people. I don’t want their email addresses, and I don’t appreciate them all having mine. Think before you ink.

Sometimes standing out is as simple as being better at the most obvious thing.

Ionia wears a helmet in public now. Don’t make more reviewers paranoid like Ionia.

Love to you all.

 

Villains V. Anti-heroes: What’s the difference?

What? Why do you people always expect me to have an answer?

Kidding…

Villains are the ones that you love to hate. They are eyeball glue for fiction readers. Seriously–want to ensure that the reader will keep turning pages? Give them a well designed villain and an equally matched hero, and they will finish your book and get that Kindle pages read graph to sky-rocket.

When we think about the basic set up of a novel, what do we think of? Hero + Villain = story? Most of the time. Let’s look at that a bit closer.

Most people go that route because it is a less risky formula. It is easy, accepted and authors choose it for those reasons. The likeable protagonist is common because:

*The reader can identify with them easily and put themselves in the character’s place.

*The character embodies all the good things about ourselves and the world around us that we want to believe in.

*They offer one half of a classic dynamic that readers respond to on an emotional level.

Villains, adversely, prey on the primary and earliest fears of the reader. Remember that monster in your closet when you were six? He’s back. They open up our minds to the idea that not everything is as safe as we might have thought. They activate the fight or flight response in us that is hardwired into our brain (thank our ancestors for this trait. Try running from a hungry cheetah whilst hunting down your breakfast.) Or just go to Subway. Easier.

So–this conventional view makes sense. Hero that stands for all that is right and pure + Villain that is evil incarnate and stands for all the things we fear =

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

What if we want to do something different? What if we want to risk using an anti-hero as our protagonist? Can you do that? Of course you can. You can do anything–you’re an author.

Anti-heroes are an interesting and conflicted character type to work with. Though the reader may not easily be able to see things from their point of view and step right into those tarnished shoes, anti-heroes are built with some form of redeeming quality. The reader may not agree with them, but they will surely be able to understand why they act as they do. Also, the anti-hero does not have to be fully redeemed by the end of the story. That makes for an unexpected character arc.  Lets take a look at some differences between anti-heroes and villains

Anti-hero: The anti-hero is almost never a willing participant. They do what they do because they have no choice.

Villain: Do what they do out of selfishness and a desire to conquer. Willingly plot and plan against protagonists (or in the case of super-villains, everyone else.)

Anti-hero: Can be very average, or even very unattractive, both physically and morally.

Villain: Can be unattractive, but is rarely ever just an Everyday Joe.

Anti-hero:  Highly versatile and able to transition between scenes easily. Just killed a bus full of bad guys? No problem. Show up two minutes later for his daughter’s graduation looking not the slightest bit disturbed.

Villains: Ego makes them a show off. Just killed a bus full of good guys? Take over the hero’s daughter’s graduation event to use the mic and brag about it.

Anti-hero: A mess of contradictory qualities. “I hate animals rights groups. I will kill them all. Oh…a kitten. I love kittens.”

Villains: Rarely have any redeeming qualities and have no issue being evil.

Anti-hero: Complex MO

Villain: Power, revenge, powerful revenge–selfishness.

Anti-hero: Can often appear to blend in with the good side as well as the bad side, equally as easily.

Villain: Imagine Otto Octavius sitting quietly through a hero awards ceremony. Yep.

Anti-hero: when forced to make a choice between two paths, one right, one wrong–will sometimes willingly choose wrong because the results are faster or less dangerous.

Villain: Chooses wrong because of the pure joy of being evil.

So now that we know some of the differences, we can easily also see some of the similarities.

Both character types do bad things–but for different underlying reasons.

Both types live at the edge of society and make choices that the reader might not make, but will certainly find enthralling.

Both types have issues with authority, but for separate reasons.

Both types can be motivated by self interest, although the anti-hero can often be motivated by love or the desire to protect someone or something.

Both types of characters require the reader to think beyond what they see in the every day world. They make the reader feel vulnerable–frightened even. You want your readers to feel something.

So how do I build a good anti-hero? The anti-hero is an excellent choice for an author. He or she does not have to fit a specific cookie-cutter type. Your Anti-hero can be outrageously sexy, or the guy on the hijacked plane with the bald spot and the stained t-shirt. They can swear every other word and be a racist, an ex-con, a loser who is at the lowest point in their life. Whatever you choose to do with them. Whatever works best for your story.

Here are the important things:

*They must have some sort of reason for their actions, and the reader must know what that reason is. Give them a back story. What made them who they are?

*They must be equal in intelligence (although it may be displayed differently) to your villain.

*They must display their reluctance at some point in the story–otherwise they are just a willing hero with some less than savoury qualities.

* If heroes are blue and villains are red, think of the anti-hero as purple. He is a combination of all traits, to be used at your will and command.

* He usually will have a fragile sense of self worth–this can make him both dangerous and demotivated–so give him a strong reason to care.

A few examples of anti-heroes:

Luke Jackson–Cool Hand Luke

Shrek

Han Solo

Dirty Harry Callahan

Who hates Shrek? Not most people, I wouldn’t think. He is an oddball character type. Some gross antics, not the best manners, negative and suspicious, suffers from ridicule and not all that excited about saving the day–but people love him for all of those things and more. The perfect anti-hero. (No, you don’t have to have a green character who eats eyeballs as your anti-hero, but he is a good example.)

I realise this is a long post, so I will wrap it up. One of the most important things you can do for your characters and for your readers, is allow your characters to grow beyond your own experiences and beliefs. Have you ever crossed the desert on a grumpy camel to save a princess who will thank you with disdain and ignorance? Me either. I bet I could create a believable character who could. So could you.

Do not limit your characters to only believing what you believe, speaking like you speak, and seeing the world through your eyes. Wherever possible, make them your absolute opposite. Yes, the saying has always been “write what you know,” but that only goes so far. Do you think that Anne McCaffrey really knew the Dragons of Pern or that all of the famous sci-fi writers of the 20th century really travelled to other planets for research? Don’t be afraid to be different. It just might pay off.

Go write.

Writing exercise # 2 and # 3

My life would have turned out so much differently if only I had not _____________.

 

Fill in the blank. See if you can write a paragraph, or fit this in to a WIP that you are stuck on.

 

Come up with five to ten descriptive words. Then use antonyms of them to write a paragraph.

Opposites are a fun and creative way to get your mind working.

 

Who is the tallest man you have ever seen? What if he were the shortest?

What was the worst thing you’ve ever eaten? What was the best?

Writing exercise

We all need a little help once in a while getting our brains moving in the “write” direction. So please stay tuned for a series of simple writing exercises you can use to get your mind going, or as a primer for your daily work on your WIP. Feel free to come back and drop a line to let me know what you came up with:)

 

Write 9 random alphabet letters in your journal or onscreen. Then use those letters, in the random order you wrote them, to build a sentence, the first letter of each word matching the letters you chose.

 

Here is an example:

 

G  Y  T  R B W P A  F

Gifford Young tried really bad wing-sauce, putrid, awful food.

 

Have fun with it and remember that to write well, you must be willing to write poorly first.

 

 

Mirror Interview Rose B Fischer

Sorry to Rose and everyone else for the late post today. Been travelling and WIFI has been sketchy. Better late than never!

 

Hello, everyone! I’d like to thank Ionia so much for featuring me this week on Readful Things. I’m really excited to be sharing this interview day, and Ionia is right. I do talk to myself.

 

So, Rose, tell us a little about yourself.

Seriously? That’s your first question.

Come on, go with it. It’s not like I can just launch into asking questions about your project.

Why not?

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

Okay, okay. I’m in my late 30s, I worked in early childcare and in a veteran’s hospital. I’m a lifelong book nerd with a high geek-quotient. I love science fiction and fantasy because they’re all about exploring what’s possible and pushing boundaries. I’m also fascinated by gothic horror and fairytales. I was homeless in my twenties and I’m a domestic violence survivor. That’s why there’s only a logo and no photographs of me on my blog. Rose B. Fischer is a pseudonym. So, I try to bring a lot of my life experiences into my writing, even though I’m usually writing SFF and the circumstances don’t look much like mine on the surface.

Wow. So, what are you working on these days?

The biggest thing is an interactive blogging project called Redefining Disability For Writers. Back in February, I started a blog series that examined concepts related to disability awareness and the Independenet Living movement. I looked at film and television characters who are — or could be — iconic representational figures for people with disabilities, and I used them as the basis for discussions about life with a disability, disability awareness, disability rights, and the Independent Living movement. Some of my readers suggested that I do a series geared more toward helping story creators find better ways to include characters with disabilities in their work.

It’s going to include topical posts on areas like :

  • The introduction of the character/concepts
  • Things I will strangle you for doing common clichés,
  • How to address frustrations and insecurity without getting a whiny character (me on that topic should be interesting given my fundamental lack of patience for whining and insecurity.)
  • Realistic handling of adaptive equipment,
  • Adaptive equipment/assistive technology in a low-tech environment (I’ve done that, it’s possible)
  • Concerns related to service animals (they’re not always a good idea, but there should be more of them)
  • Deaf Culture (I’m not expert and would really rather have a deaf person’s perspective to do this, but I have spent some time in our local deaf community. See below about getting involved in the project.)
  • Pain management and medication,
  • Why NOT to use magic-reactive pain and as a control device for a superpowered character.
  • Realistic integration
  • Handling of sexuality
  • Handling of parenthood
  • Non-cliché, positive handling of mental illness

And anything else that comes up while the series is evolving.

I’ll be posting full-length example stories (running about between 3000-6000 words each) in the Free Reads section of my blog, and we’re hoping to host some regular discussion threads where people can ask questions or give feedback.

I really the series to be interactive and have my post topics cover the things that other writers want to know about. I want to get as many people involved as possible, both writers and readers, and I want to include as many perspectives as I can. I was born with a neuromotor disability, and I live with chronic health problems that have developed in the last 5 years, but there are a lot of people with disabilities whose experiences are vastly different from mine.

 

Eventually, my goal is to collect everything that comes out of the Redefining Disability for Writers discussions and publish them as an ebook.

Holy crap. That sounds like a lot of work. What made you decide to put something like that together?

You know, when I first started blogging, I had no intention of writing anything about disability, much less advertise my personal experience with having them. I didn’t intend to hide anything, but I didn’t think it would be relevant to my blog, and I didn’t want to be pegged as a “disability blogger” or a political blogger of any kind. As I got out into the blogging community, I realized that many of the bloggers I knew were writing about media representation for women or LGBT+ people. I also knew a handful of bloggers who wrote about racial and ethnic diversity (or lack thereof) in the media. Very few people were talking about representation for people with disabilities. Those other issues are important to me, too, but I finally realized that I was in a position to write about representation for people with disabilities where those bloggers probably weren’t. If I didn’t do so, I had no right to complain about the lack of characters with disabilities in prominent media roles.

So, what are your other goals for the project?

In short-term, I’m looking to get a small group of writers together (in various genres, and fanfiction writers are very welcome) to help shape this series by commenting regularly both on my topical posts and on discussion threads. I’d like to get as many people who live with disabilities involved as possible, because my voice shouldn’t be the only one. So…

If you’re a writer (or story creator in any media format) interested in diversity and representation for people with disabilities, check out this post and follow my blog.

If you’re a person with a disability (whether you create stories or not) and you want to see better media representation, follow my blog and check out Redefining Disability


RBF_logobevelRose B. Fischer is an experienced blogger and author of speculative fiction who is currently developing an interactive project to promote awareness and media representation for people with disabilities.

 

A question for the authors out there

Recently I was discussing the writing process at a small conference in Reno, Nevada. One of the people I was talking to was saying she had trouble figuring out if her idea was her own or if it had been done before. I asked her if she reads within the genre she writes in and her answer was very interesting. “No, I’m afraid it will implant ideas in my head that aren’t really mine and I won’t know it.”

Logical in some ways, I suppose.

Still, this made me curious and begs the question:

 

Do you read within your genre? Do you think it helps you or does it harm you at all? Do you worry that you will inadvertently take someone’s idea and run away with it? If you don’t read other people’s work how do you know what is already being done?

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

” — Dr. Seuss

 

 

Cart before the horse (Not always a bad thing)

As any author will tell you, writing the book is the easy part. After that comes the fun of editing, cover design, book blurbs and the ultimate in evil, MARKETING.

Most authors are already aware of how this all works, but there is a question that many authors don’t think to ask until they are finished or nearly finished with their books. When should you start marketing your work?

Beginning the first stages of marketing before your book is complete can be an important factor in success. I’m not saying you should write your first sentence and then begin pushing the book. Sometimes books become something other than what we intended them to be, plus having a general idea of word count and the ability to put together a book blurb and some excerpts for promotional use is necessary.

There is no exact right time for promo, but there is definitely a wrong time. Don’t wait until after the book has already been published to start advertising. The more hits your book title gets in searches and the more times your author name is searched, the higher your book will climb in rankings. This is particularly true of Amazon.com. (They of the impossible algorithms.) Get the word spreading before you have a ranking.

Think about popular products, movies, etc. We know about them before they are available to the public. When people run out to buy the latest techy toy or go see the newest film in theatres it is because they have HEARD ABOUT IT. Through advertising, word of mouth and the determination of those behind the marketing, we are aware of things before they become physical property.

When you have a nearly complete novel, when you are close to having finished cover art and when you can provide a solid intent for a release date, you are in the zone to begin promoting. You may not have a bundle of cash waiting in the wings for you to market with, but that is not a problem. Here are some ideas on how to begin:

Get started on promo at least 30 days in advance of your release date

Maximize your exposure with blogs, author websites or other online platforms. Release small bits of info on the book. Some ideas include, character profiles, beginning and middle stages of cover art, contests for cover art suggestions, asking opinions on book blurbs, excerpts from your novel, interviews about your book(s), joining author groups on Facebook where you can discuss your upcoming release.

Get beta readers involved for your manuscript ahead of time. The feedback they give will be invaluable to you and everyone knows someone else. Popular books became popular because someone, somewhere knew the right people. The more hands you can get your work into, the better.

If you have previous titles, offer a sale on them to hype the release of the new book. They don’t have to be a series for this to work. If you are working with standalone novels, then you can easily hype the author name rather than the connection between books. “If you loved Jane Doe’s last book, then this one will thrill you even more.”

Build your brand during marketing. Using eye-catching materials in your promotion is a good idea. Handing out or offering giveaways of bookmarks or other themed items can help spread the word. This also gives you a chance to include your author website and where your books or future book will be available for sale. Business cards, stickers, or other paper promo items are an inexpensive way to help get the word out. About branding–it is also a good plan to stick with a familiar colour scheme or font type that people will then associate with your work. For a good example of this, visit author Charles E. Yallowitz. His Windemere series have covers and fonts that are unmistakably his. Why do we recognise Coke and Pepsi so easily? Branding. Memorable colours and shapes. You can do it too.

Get some reviewers reading. Reviews may not be able to be posted to the main retail websites until the book has been released, but they can be posted to blogs, goodreads and other platforms before release. You want people talking.

Ask your early readers to post their reviews to your Facebook page, tweet them and blog about them.

GO SIGN UP FOR GOOGLE AUTHORSHIP THIS CANNOT BE STRESSED ENOUGH!

Network on Linked in. Finding other authors and groups to join and discuss your work with offers a variety of opportunities.

Make a page for your main character on FB where fans can interact with him/her.

Some ideas for contests and fan/blogger involvement:

Post photos of you with your books

Ask readers to post photos of them reading your books

Run a photo contest for the best pictures people can come up with of the setting or characters from your book.

Offer to do guest blogs

Offer to host guest blogs

Approach the bigger blogs that offer guest spots

Run polls on your blog about characters

Make donations of your previous books and blog about it. There are plenty of library groups, shelters, homes for the elderly and schools that will be grateful for donations. Don’t forget to take photos.

Sign up for Authorgraph

Sign up for Authonomy

Create a book trailer or find someone who wants to help you create one

This is in no way an exhaustive list of ideas, and there are always plenty of new ones out there, just a few tips and tricks to get you started on moving some copies. Best of luck to you, authors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key elements to writing a stellar fiction book blurb

So…you’ve written an awesome book, right? Of course you have. You’ve slaved over it, perfected it, edited it until you can’t even see the words anymore. You have a great cover, your beta readers have sufficiently fluffed your feathers and then you realise…oh shit…(sorry Chris,) that you need to have words on this cover other than your author name and the book title.

What do you say to describe an entire book in a few sentences? How do you approach this situation when you have so many great scenes running through your head and you can’t pick just one or two?

This is going to sound silly. Wait for the logic. (Yes, I can still produce some once in a while.)

 

Treat it like a love interest.

Seriously. Think of your potential audience like someone you are trying to attract and go on a first date with.

First, you need a hook (shout.) This is the opening line that will captivate the attention of the reader and give them a reason to keep reading. Think of this ladies and gentlemen, as your pick up line.

What should this line include? A few words that give an overall feeling of the book. Is it full of danger? Steamy romance? Heartfelt family ties? You can use a complete sentence, or just a few words. Examples: “You can run, but you can’t hide.” Or “One woman. One runaway child. Two lives forever changed.”

Once you have your hook in place, next comes the body. Of course if you are going on a first date, you want the body to be attractive, right?

You don’t want the blurb to be miles long and detract from the point in the story. Keep in mind that your characters play a vital role in the book and you need to mention the important ones. It is easy to lose sight of them in the rush to make an exciting blurb, but they lead the story and need proper mention. Include the major conflict in your story, but do not give away any plot points you want the reader to discover inside the book.

Again with date mentality: Give enough to be interesting and make your potential suitor want to know more, but don’t tell the life story of your book in a single shot.

An important rule: Online dating book blurb, if you will. Before you have even met your date you can destroy any potential relationship by building up hype and not being honest. Think that little 23 year old blonde with the trim waistline and perky boobs on the computer screen is the hottest thing you’ve ever seen? How will you feel when you find out she is a 6 and a half foot tall behemoth that has a love of fried foods and a butt to back it up, also she’s 62. Do not make promises in your blurb that you can’t deliver on. People will soon find you out and word will spread. If you have written a book about snails, don’t promise it will be “the best action packed ride of the year,” unless you have somehow figured out how to make that actually work. I’ve seen stranger things.

Writing a book blurb in present tense, 3rd person will make the action seem as though it is happening right now, and make the blurb more exciting.

Finally, the closing. You have attracted your dream date, they have eyeballed you appreciatively and you have  had dinner and a nice conversation. Will they call you for a second date?

You don’t have to end on a cliffhanger in a book blurb. Sometimes this actually bothers readers, but you do want to ensure that your last sentence is a memorable one. You can end with a question, “How will Jane return to the world she knows and save the ones she loves?” Or with a statement “Mary doesn’t believe in ghosts, until she encounters one that won’t let her go.” The idea here is to sum up both conflict and plot in a single line. Not easy, but not impossible. Make certain that date has your number and intends to use it. Hinting at a resolution to the conflict you mentioned prior is a good way to close.

Another option, if you choose not to put together this type of traditional blurb, is to let the manuscript do the work for you. If you can find a particularly good excerpt from your manuscript, sometimes that will suffice as a perfect blurb. Of course, you want to ensure that you choose piece that is both exciting and has the information you want to give, but does not reveal any major plot points and isn’t terribly long.

Five important points:

Mood is important and it needs to match your book.

Length is very important as shoppers will not spend a lot of time choosing.

What makes your book stand out? Why is it different?

Editing the blurb is very important.

Read other blurbs in your genre and use the advice of your readers. What was their favourite part, why were they intrigued?

 

No one said this was easy, but it can be done. Ask yourself what would make you read a book? What kind of back cover copy interests you?

Hook that date, plan a wedding. Long term relationships offer security. Go write.

 

 

 

Hell yes, I read: Inside the mind of a lifelong reader

This is the conclusion to the 2 part series on reading habits (or not reading, if you caught the first half.) Today we are joined by Pamela, from Year Round Thanksgiving

and Poetry by Pamela.

Pam reads more than anyone else I know, so I thought she would be perfect to provide contrast to our previous guest. She has some really interesting answers, so authors, if you are wondering what makes your book sell, have a read.

 

Ionia: Why do you read so much? There are so many forms of entertainment, but what makes you come back to books?

Pamela: I have always been a reader. I grew up loving books. One of my fondest memories as a very young child, was “running away from home”. My mom had made me do something I didn’t want to do (but I am sure now that it was something I should do) and so I announced that I was going to run away from home. Back then, suitcases were those hard sided ones. I proceeded to pack it full of my books to take with me. No clothes or toys, just books. And then I asked my mom is she would carry it for me so I could run away from home because I could only drag it as far as the end of the driveway.

I’m not really much of a television watcher. I do love movies in the theater, but if the movie is based on a book I’ve read, I’m nearly always disappointed. Books capture my imagination and feed my soul.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

Pamela: What better way to spend an afternoon than in a bookstore or library? I can browse for hours. I think that the cover of a book is the first impression. It doesn’t mean that is all I consider, but that is what draws me to look at it. From there, the genre and the book blurb have to captivate me. Of course, most of the indie books are not in the bookstores or libraries and I find those through some of the promotional sites, blogs, and word of mouth.

Ionia: How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

Pamela: Of course I read YOUR reviews and have picked up several books because of that. I don’t generally read reviews of books on the sites where I’m purchasing a book. Reviews can be so skewed by the readers. I rely heavily on the book description. I don’t notice the star ratings as much either.

Ionia: Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

Pamela: There was a time I would have answered this question with “I will NEVER read other than a paper book”. Then I bought a Nook. I was hooked from the beginning. I could carry dozens of books with me all the time. About that time I also noticed that I began reading more and more. I was already a voracious reader, but my Nook (Julio is what I named him) was so easy to carry with me everywhere…and I did. But then I realized that so many indie books were only available on the Kindle platform. So I bought a Kindle. They fit so easily into my purse or briefcase so I always have one of them with me. No more outdated boring magazines in waiting rooms. Plus, when I’m reading on my Kindle and fall asleep, it doesn’t (a) hit me in the head and (b) keeps my place. I still love to touch books, smell books, and hold paper books, but I prefer reading electronically.

Ionia: You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me, or do you ever give up before finishing?

Pamela: I don’t very often quit reading a book. I guess it is that hopeful nature I have that keeps me going. But I do have to say that if a book can’t capture my interest or attention in the first 25-50 pages, there is a strong chance that I may just give up. There are so many really good books to read that I don’t feel it is necessary to read a book that doesn’t hold my attention. There have been some very popular mainstream books that I just couldn’t get through. I’m trying to think of the name…I saw the movie and it was good, but the book just couldn’t keep my interest. Oh, I know, it was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson. Everyone said after the first 100 pages, it got interesting. I just couldn’t wait and gave up. If it is an indie book and has obviously not been proofread or edited, there is also a good chance I will just put it aside too.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

Pamela: I love indie authors. But I also love some really big name authors. I have noticed that some of the bigger names aren’t necessarily good books. There seems to be a tendency for their books to start feeling the same as their last one, even if they aren’t in a series. I want something that is original. My preferred genre is thriller/suspense/mystery and there seems to be a formula for those books. But character development and plot twists and turns still keep me reading. I realize that much of life is a pendulum. Right now my pendulum has swung toward the indie author/publisher. I throw in a mainstream mass market book from time to time though.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

Pamela: As I mentioned before I really enjoy the suspense/thriller/mystery books. But I have been branching out with genres. Historical Fiction is another favorite of mine. But I will read just about anything. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi though. Or romance. I avoid romance books most of the time. Isn’t that ironic? I write love poetry and yet I don’t like romance books. Hmmm maybe I should read more romance.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

Pamela: I remember the days that I bought all of my books in hard cover…at $19.99 up to $29.99 each. So, purchasing a book that is $9.99 is still a bargain. I am not dissuaded from reading something on my Kindle by price generally. That being said, if I spend $10-$15 on a Kindle book and it isn’t well written or edited, I’m not happy. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see how much I spend on Amazon in the course of a year. I keep thinking how nice it would be to win one of those sweepstakes where the prize is $1000 at Amazon. Wouldn’t that be fun? As much as I enjoy reading, I also enjoy finding new books and buying them for my to-be-read queue.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

Pamela: Oh dear, someone told you about me, didn’t they? I have just enough OCD tendencies that I couldn’t possibly read books in a series out of order. And if I enjoyed the first one, I most certainly will buy every single one in the series…in order. But I also purchase books from authors, even those not in a series, so I will have them all. In fact, I have every Stephen King book he has published in hard cover copies. But I also have a lot of them for my Kindle. As I said earlier, I prefer reading on my Kindle so I want them to read in that format. But my bookshelf wouldn’t be complete without every single one of his books on it.

Ionia: Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

Pamela: What a great question. Until I published my own book, I had no idea about the sales ranking. Obviously then, it didn’t impact my purchasing decision at all. Even now that I know about the sales ranking, I rarely pay attention to it. I think it is the thing that the authors love (at least when the numbers are good), but from a reader standpoint, not so much.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

Pamela: The only place I really notice book advertising is on blogs and through the multitude of “free and bargain book” sites. I subscribe to several of those and I find a lot of really good books that way. I may not buy them at the time, but I add them to my wish list.

Oh my, I just realized that we’ve been talking for a long time. I know you are busy and I’m sorry if I talked too much. But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

Thank you so much for being here today and giving us some insight into the mind of someone who really loves literature!