Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Readers Read What They Read by Sandie Bricker

Sandie Bricker
If you didn't already know, the most awesome Sandie Bricker, in addition to being a regular contributor to Seriously Write, is the founder of BLING!, the edgy-ish contemporary romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). The following was originally posted there, but she and Janese Lopez agreed to let me repost it.

We writer and editor types love to delve into the minds of our readers. We feel like we need to know what makes them tick, right? So I went straight to the source for answers (as I’m prone to do) and asked Janese Lopez – one of my longtime readers and the author of the fun Loving Life in Pink blog – to tell us what makes her choose a certain novel over shelves of others.
Here’s what Janese had to say:

As I was first thinking about writing this post, it seemed really simple; but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how many facets go into what draws me to a book.

When I was in middle school, it was pretty easy: Almost any book the library had that I hadn’t read and my mother would approve of was checked out and read. The classics, series books, mysteries, age-appropriate romances, pretty much anything I could get my hands on, I read. Of course, in eight grade I was reading about a book a day, so I couldn’t be too demanding.

These days, I don’t have as much time to read; consequently, I am much more selective. If I’m not really attracted to a particular book, I skip it.

So what does it take to make the cut? It’s not really any one certain thing, but some of the items that influence my decision are genre, cover, presentation (could be online, in a store, in a library, etc), and recommendations and reviews.


The genre of a book is one of the biggest factors for me. There are lots of books to chose from and narrowing it to a genre quickly weeds out many unwanted items. If a book is a genre I don’t enjoy, I’ll be hard-pressed to consider reading it (even if it is highly recommended, has a great cover, etc). I know some people who don’t like to read romantic fiction because they get caught up in the fairy tale. There are others who can’t stand science fiction or mysteries. Each reader has an opinion, but many are firm when it comes to the genre of a book. So once I am looking at books within a genre I’ll enjoy, I turn to the cover to help lead me to the perfect selection.


Yup, I totally ignore that old cliché: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Partially because I just happen to find books with bright, eye-catching covers more appealing, but another element is that the cover includes a compact look at the pertinent information like the title, the author, a summary of the book, and artwork.

Sometimes the title says a lot about the book; other times it doesn’t. If I’m not familiar with a book, a catchy title is most certainly appealing.

The author is another important element of the cover. If I’ve read other works by the author, that will influence my pick. If I am not familiar with the author but have heard of them, I’m more likely to select that book than one by an author I don’t know anything about.
The summary can quickly tell me if I am even mildly intrigued by a book. Simply put: No summary, no interest!

Cover artwork can be as important as the other cover elements. Muted colors that make a painting of a front porch scene with several long-haired cats lounging about suggests to me that the writing will possibly be sub-par. Often the author will be trying too hard with descriptions or adding things to the plot that don’t fit well. However, if the cover has sharp graphics/clip art (but not actual photos) and vivid colors, usually those are fun, contemporary quick reads, but the plot and characters are sometimes shallow and predictable. I often find that covers with real photos of scenes or people with darker colors generally have more intensity in the characters, plot, and background of the story. Of course, this isn’t a 100% foolproof formula, but I do think the cover art can (or at least should!) show a lot about the book. Artwork quickly tells you if the story is set in a small town, large city, winter, summer, fall, a specific area (like an Amish community), or if it is staged in present day, a few decades ago, or a hundred years ago. All of these things can be a big influence and can help me quickly decide about a book.


Along with a great cover, an attractive display at a store or library or a well-designed graphic online can also draw me to a book. An individual display helps the novel to stand out because it’s no longer just another spine in a row of 25. A graphic on Facebook or Pinterest tends to grab my attention and helps me to search for that specific book, rather than just trying to narrow the endless search results with what feels like never-ending and varying parameters.

Recommendations and Reviews

Sometimes I skip the search and speed-walk right past a striking display because I’m on a mission with a personal recommendation. Personal recommendations from a friend often influence me to try a specific author or book, sometimes even a book I’m not sure I’ll like. If I don’t have a personal recommendation, a well-written review (more than a summary of the book and one line about how good it was) on a blog or a fun or interesting author interview can really pique my interest. Bloggers put effort into writing reviews and they aren’t going to waste time promoting a post about a book they didn’t enjoy, which gives me more confidence in a book than just a 5-star rating on a popular bookselling website.

Once I’m relatively settled on a book, a few more things help me finalize the decision.

Other Considerations

First is price (sadly, my book budget is limited). I have a really hard time purchasing a book that is $20 for a hard cover copy. In fact, recently I’ve been purchasing more Kindle books as they are usually cheaper; not to mention so much easier to store and access.

If the price fits my budget, availability is the next hurdle. If I can check a book out from the library or pick it up at the local bookstore, that makes it easy. However, if I have to order a hard copy from an online retailer, I’m less inclined to do so (especially if I have to pay shipping).
So there you have it: A long list of things that draw me to books! If a book makes it through all of these qualifications, I shut out the world around me and get lost in the story of another time and place!

About the Author

SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also recently named ACFW’s Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.


Author website: http://sandradbricker.com/
Latest book website: http://www.moments-of-truth.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SandieBricker
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandradbricker
Bling! Romance Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlingRomanceLPC