More Dishing With the DotMoms
More Dishing With the DotMoms
Yesterday, the DotMoms discussed some basics about their reading and book buying habits. The good news is that they’re reading, many of them a lot (anywhere from one to two books a week–which we love to hear!–to four books a year). While book clubs are still a popular forum, thanks to Ms. Oprah, none of the DotMoms are currently part of such a group, though several have been in the past. Most just don’t have the time, or find reading their personal joy and don’t want to read titles others have selected for them. As we all suspected, book covers and even titles do play a large role in choosing books, at least where our DotMoms are concerned. Packaging is as important for novels as for other products on the shelves in stores. Bright and attractive seems to urge a first (and possibly second) look. Covers and titles that don’t catch the eye–or imagination–might not have a shot when other more enticing choices abound. Author loyalty is a reality, too. Readers who enjoy books by an author will continue to read his or her books, so long as the quality continues (and sometimes even beyond). Like having "24k" stamped on a pretty bauble, treasured authors are pure gold to their fans.
In this second part of TLC’s conversation with Julie Moos, editor of the DotMoms’ blog, and a group of volunteers from the site (Jennifer, Jenn, Peyton, Christine, Robin, Amy and LauriJon), we tackle bad reviews, author turn-offs, indies vs. chains and Amazon, and book signings.
TLC: What turns you off an author? Are you influenced by negative reviews?
Julie: I’m not at all influenced by negative reviews, although sometimes positive reviews will make me more inclined to keep an eye out for something. If I’m interested in an author or a book, that’s enough for me. I know that my interests, tastes and reading needs may or may not overlap with the reviewer’s.
Jennifer: I rarely read book reviews other than the ones that are in People magazine, and those are almost always good--so I can't say that I'm influenced by them. What turns me off in an author is obviousness and unnecessary formality. Not writing the way you think, writing the way you think you should.
Jenn S.: The only thing that will turn me off of an author is if she has completely changed her style in a way you can tell that she is just "phoning it in." It wouldn't take just one book that way, though. It would have to be more than a few to show that it is a new writing style and not just a change for one book or series. As for negative reviews, I usually will BUY a book that has negative reviews because I rarely agree with them. I could care less what a review says. They are not me with my tastes and my likes. It's just an opinion, after all. The only reviews I pay attention to are the positive ones to see if I can be "introduced" to a new author.
Peyton: I don't like page after page of descriptive narrative (i.e., describing the scene). There has to be some action in the book.
Christine: Negative reviews make me intrigued. Was the person having a bad day when s/he wrote that? It is especially obvious when there are a lot of good reviews from a variety of people and only one or two bad ones. What turns me off is when the author writes badly, when the characters are as flat as the paper they emerge from, and the storyline is predictable. When the writing is snappy and smart, I'm like putty in your hands. I want more, more, more!
Robin: I don't even read reviews. I also don't listen to movie reviews. Only I am able to say what I like. If I am reading a new book and the author is too wordy, I won't read anything else that they wrote. Sometimes it will take an author two pages to describe a tree blowing in the breeze. That drives me insane. I have seen a tree in the wind...let's move on to something interesting. Too much description makes me skip the pages until I find dialogue.
Amy: I'm influenced by negative reviews from friends/family and from book critics. But if I'm just looking for a quick, easy read, I'm less likely to take into consideration what book critics have to say.
LauriJon: What turns me off an author is when the second book isn’t as good as the first. I’m not influenced by reviewers.
TLC: How do you find new authors to read?
Julie: I browse bookstores fairly constantly (independents, chains, etc.) and spend a fair amount of time on Amazon clicking through the links to books purchased by people who read what I read. My favorite new authors are the ones I find serendipitously.
Jennifer: Friends. My best friend has read every book ever written.
Jenn S.: Word of mouth usually. I listen to what other readers are saying. I see if the author has a website or if other bloggers or writers have been talking about this author. I listen. Sometimes, a rare time or two, I will find a great review and find a new author that way. But mostly, it is word of mouth.
Peyton: Recommendations from friends, browsing the bookstore, and I try to read authors who went to my college (Hollins), which is known for creative writing. I'd have to say my primary influence is my mother--we have similar tastes in fiction.
Christine: They usually approach me and say, "Would you mind reviewing this?"
Robin: I work in a doctor's office. Most patients come in reading books. When I call them into a room I ask what they are reading and if they like it. I have had some great references this way. I also go to the library once a week for my daughter's Brownie troop meeting. I ask the librarians what's new and what they like. They are a great resource. I also wanted to add that I tend to read books that have the same characters through many books. I love Nora Robert's trilogies for this reason. It lets me connect to the characters. In Jonathan and Faye Kellerman's books, they use the same lead character in many of their books so even though the story is different each time, the main person is someone I "know" from before. One uses a psychiatrist; the other uses a police detective. Someone familiar guides me through the scary mystery and somehow I feel safer. It's very comforting.
Amy: Recommendations from friends, perusing book stores.
LauriJon: Usually in the new authors section in bookstores. Sometimes I’ll also do web searches on topics I’m interested in and find new authors that way.
TLC: Where do you buy most of your books? (Chain stores, independent booksellers, discount retailers like Wal-Mart, etc.)
Julie: I probably buy most of them from Amazon and Borders, because they’re most convenient. But as often as I can, I drive the 45 minutes to an hour that it takes to get to the nearest independent bookstore. When I lived in Chapel Hill and Durham, almost all of my book purchases were made at independent bookstores. That’s my preference, but not always my reality.
Jennifer: Barnes and Noble, or I check them out at the library.
Jenn S.: Wherever I can find them! Sometimes it is a small bookstore (though, sadly, those are few and far between where I live). Most of the time, it is a chain bookstore or Amazon.com.
Peyton: Barnes & Noble (I'm a "member").
Christine: Amazon.com by far. I buy German books from the store, but a lot of English books can only be found via amazon.
Robin: Usually I will buy books in Wal-Mart but I also love shopping in Borders because the selection is so huge.
Amy: Chain stores, discount retailers (Target).
LauriJon: Chain stores, independent booksellers and online.
What don't you like?
Julie: I don’t attend author events. In fact, when I was in college, I was given the opportunity to meet my favorite author (William Goldman), and I turned it down. I love his writing and didn’t want to risk ruining that pleasure in any way by discovering (inevitably) that there might be something human and less-than-lovable about him. I think these days, I’d enjoy sitting down with writers and talking about their work, but that’s not my perception of how most author events go. If there were no readings or signings involved, just interactive chitchat, and I really enjoyed the author’s work, I’d consider it.
Jennifer: I haven't attended any author events, mostly because Baton Rouge doesn’t have a lot of them! Also, the mommy thing is a tad time-consuming at this point. When my husband and I go out, we usually have drinks, dinner, etc., just to relax. I’m not against them, just don’t really have any opportunities to go to them.
Jenn S.: Absolutely! I want to meet the person who wrote what I am reading. I want to tell them face to face how much I admire their work (both the book itself and the very fact they will come out and do a book signing!) The only ones I have nothing to do with are the celebrity book signings. Not going to stand in line to hear what Monica Lewinsky or Madonna has to say about writing. No thanks!
Peyton: No--I would if I had the time!
Christine: I haven't, no. I bought one book by a local author. In Charlottesville, VA, there are tons of writers. If I lived there, I am certain I would attend more such events. As it is, I attended the world's largest book fair in Frankfurt last year. It was interesting to see the difference between BEA and the Buchmesse.
Robin: I never have attended one but that doesn't mean I wouldn't in the future.
Amy: I have never attended an author event. There aren’t many author events in Central Pennsylvania. On the rare occasion that there is one, it isn’t usually an author I’m interested in.
LauriJon: Some, although it’s been more difficult since having my baby. I like when authors do readings.
TLC: Thanks to Julie and all the DotMoms! We appreciate their helping us out as we try to make sense of this crazy business from various perspectives. Now we’d like to hear your comments! What draws you to a book? The cover or title? The author’s name? What inspires author loyalty? Have you ever attended a book signing? Spill. We want the dirt! We Book Tarts promise to weigh in.