Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Have a question about how someone decides to buy a book. (1 Viewer)



My question is what makes reader's buy a book by an author they have never heard about? Why do some shoppers pass on a book and some buy it? The reason I started reading was because I like fantasy and science fiction; I read more fantasy though, from the forgotten Realms and Dragonlance. At the book store today I was looking through the new releases and found several new fantasy books. To me, they all seemed interesting, but I didn't feel compelled to buy one of them over the others.
Some day (years from now) I hope to have a book published. How could my book stand out in a way -from others- that might pique the interest of a reader to buy it? All books have jacket information to wet the whistle of a would be reader just enough for them to decide if they want to buy it. There are so many authors and books in the genre, it's hard competition. So what edges out someone's book over another? Especially to a new reader buying a book for the first time, maybe trying out the genre to see if they like it enough to buy more books.
Thanks for any thoughts and ideas or suggestions, I'll read and respond cause I'm curious.



Well, I buy the book when people tell me it's really good or when I go to bookshops (and I love doing that) I buy one if it seems really interesting. It must have good jacket information.

As far as I'm concerned, a good writing and and a attractive cover is all you need as critics must read a lot and if the your book's cover catch the critic's attention, he'll read it. And if your writing is good you'll get good reviews and people will buy your book!

I want to publish a book too! It will be a huge epic! I'm already working on it. I'm 17 and I think it'll be ready when I'm about 47... or maybe never... :)


Senior Member
Actually, I'm very interested in finding out myself, as my first book will go live in about a month and I'm looking for ideas to start my marketing platform.

I'm not really into fantasy, so all I can only tell you what makes me want to read a book;

1. Originality. You have to do something with your writing style or something with the plot that's never been done before, to catch the readers attention. Books that caught my attention with their originality were "Beautiful Losers" and "Tristram Shandy." Maybe instead of writting within the precepts of the fantasy genre, start your own genre.

2. Depth, ie philosophical and psychological insight. I like books that have a lot to say, and challenge me as a reader . If a book is only "skin-deep", I'll stop reading it after the first few pages. I think the mistake that most young writers make is that they think the reader is stupidier than they are, so they over-explain everything. If anything, you should assume the reader is smarter than you are and write up to him, not down to him.

3. Definately the opening is crucial. Especially the opening line. If you can grab your reader with the opening line, then they'll probably read at least 5 or 6 more pages just based on that opening line. A lot of the great books in classic literature are known for their opening lines; "It was the best of times..."


Senior Member
I'm about to finish up Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. What made me choose it? I'm not quite sure. I had never read a 'long novel' before, and told myself I would this summer, I just needed one. Somehow I unearthed this book by researching online, and went to the used bookstore and bought it. I like it, and it's sparked a bit of an interest in Russian literature. I plan on reading something by Gogol next.

As for my interest in Japanese literature, I bought a book with short stories from Akutagawa and Souseki in both English and Japanese as a study aid. I was hooked on Akutagawa, and have searched out more stories from him, Souseki, and Osamu Dazai. Some day I will read Botchan and Wagahai wa neko de aru.

In short, I usually research authors online and then seek out their works, or I just buy on a whim

edit: Unfortunately, this is the only method that works for me. I picked up books based on interest, kamikaze tales, Atilla the Hun history, books on the Balkans, Subcommander Marcos, and other half read books. I guess for fact I prefer to pursue it in TV documentaries or essays...


When I go into a bookstore, I start by looking over the bestseller list. If I can't find anything there, I check out the new releases. I look for a title or cover that catches my eye. If I find something that peaks my interest, I'll read the inside of the jacket cover. Sometimes I read the first page of the book, but usually I've made up my mind by the time I finish reading the jacket cover. If I haven't found a book by this time, I head to the fiction section -- In particular, the mystery, suspense, and horror sections. I then use the same process to find a book that I think will be good.


Senior Member
I was reading on a publishing site that like 70% of the decision to buy is made based on the cover. Sounds retarded right? But people like visuals.


I choose books if I have read good reviews about them, mainly online. I also read book reviews in the newspaper on a Sunday. I would never go into a book shop and just buy a book because of it's cover.

I would read a lot of classics or older novels that have a good reputation and have been talked about a lot.

The BBC had a series on last year called "The Big Read" to determine what the nations favourite books were. Watching the programmes and going online and reading about the books made me read a lot of the feautred novels. The list of the top 200 books is still online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/vote/


Senior Member
I choose books if they are recommended. Also, I try to keep up-to-date with some of my favorite authors and their new writing. But sometimes I'll skip some if I do not like the storyline or find bad reviews. Whenever I'm just browsing through any bookstore or library, though, it's the titles that captivate me. Strangely enough, that's how I find my favorite authors through titles. ^^;

Emma LB

Senior Member
I normally walk into a bookshop and spend an hour or two there twice a year. I'll buy all my books then and normally never enter a bookshop to buy books for leisure reading again that year unless I've read a book which has a sequal I feel I really need.
I just walk straight to the sifi/fantasy section and take a look at the shelves and see which books the staff their recommend. I must admit that I often pic up books with nice covers and then read cover. If I like that I'll flick through the book and read a page. If I like what I've read I might buy the book, depending on whether the other books I've more or less randomly picked up seem like a better read or not. If an author I don't know has a lot of books on the shelf I'll probably take a look at some of their books first...


Senior Member
I think when dealing with an unknown author most people will pick something up with an appealing cover. But that's not always the case. When I first started reading fantasy novels, it was the dragonlance series, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (very talented individuals). Every time I went to get a new book in thier series, I would notice the Eye of the World by Robert Jordan just sitting there. I did not think the cover was very spectacular and the book looked large and boring. This went on for years, even after I gave up on Dragonlance and started purchasing other types of fantasy I would always see that book, everywhere I went, there it was. And it was even more time after that before I said what the hell, and picked it up (was a spur of the moment thing). Just got tired of seeing it everywhere...


Personally, I always buy books I've heard good things about, or whose authors' previous works I enjoyed; I never walk into a bookstore and buy a book because, short of reading about 10% of the book, there's no reliable way to find out it if it's good or not (jacket summaries are insipid, attention-grabbing vacuity written by the publishers' marketing department, and cover art is entirely irrelevant).
The best you can do is write a good book and pass it around. Word of mouth from critics and readers will do it's job, and will only increase exponentially, not deflate quickly like a blown-up marketing campaign that tries to support a crap book.
Or, if you're aiming for John Grisham's audience and want to top the bestseller lists, rely on media coverage and jacket summaries. But then you're a salesman, not a stroyteller.