Hello, my name is Amy and I'm addicted to Romance. Yes, and free ebooks. (and chocolate)
Trolling through the free ebook selection on Amazon I'm giddy with how many romances are offered every day. Thank goodness so many authors are getting the rights back to their books and are publishing their backlists. (I'm also thankful they want to do some advertising by offering a title here and there for free to entice me into buying more)
There are a ton of self pubbed free ebooks out there too. I read plenty of those as well. Some I wish only for them to have the resources available, like RWA, a local RWA chapter or some other writing group to tell them to be patient, hone their craft, get some constructive criticism and professional editing before putting it up on Amazon or Smashwords. Some self pubbers are great and I wonder why they haven't gone the traditional publishing route and become Nora Roberts.
How in the world do I decide which books to download and which to skip?
Here are some of my criteria with some notes to authors who are looking for some insight into the mind of the reader
1. The cover
Yeah, I know it's an e-book and when I read it on my kindle I'm not even gonna see that cover, but just like at the bookstore, I'm attracted to pretty, shiny things. I'll skip write over your book, even if it's got a great plot, amazing characters and the whole world is reading it, if you've had your six year-old kid draw some abstract picture of love for the cover of your book. Get something professional done. Even if you don't know any graphic designers or don't have a lot of money there are lots and lots of resources out there for inexpensive covers for your book. If you are designing your own, use a font I can read without squinting.
Make sure I know what genre the book is by your cover too. I don't want a picture of a flower. If you're writing Erotic Romance, show me some skin. Regency, just the dress, I got it. Western, hit me with some boots or a horse or something!
If your cover looks like something I would pick up at the bookstore pubbed by one of the big six, you've got me.
Of course I read other people's reviews, but sometimes I'll download a book even if it hasn't gotten great ones depending on what they say. If the reviewers say they aren't usually a reader of (insert genre) romance and they were turned off by (insert genre characters and habits) here I'm totally ignoring that one. You as a writer should too.
3. Genre with an interesting twist
I'm a sucker for anything historical,(or Navy SEALs- hmm, historical Navy SEALs...) but especially an out of the ordinary historical. Don't get me wrong, I love Regency, but it gets tired sometimes (like paranormal vampires). But hit me with a historical romance set in biblical times. Yowza. I'm in, pretty much regardless of the reviews.
I love most genres, give me a contemporary that's not cliche with a hero whose been burned by his ex. I swoon for a good erotic, but don't want to read about how she'd never had good sex before this. Paranormal? Please don't try to sell me another vampire book, unless you've got the greatest new and improved take on the genre (and your vamps don't sparkle). YA? This heroine better be kicking ass and taking names if I'm gonna read another dystopian.
I guess I'm really asking authors here to write an amazing book. You can do it!
4. Writer's and Book's Credentials
Mention this in your blurb about the book. Was this book nominated for a RITA or a Golden Heart? Automatic download. Did this book or writer win any other awards. I'll probably try it out. Has the writer been previously published and is either putting up their backlist or is dropping out of traditional publishing?
Build my trust in you and your book (but not in a lengthy diatribe. Just one sentence will do)
Have reviewers and bloggers liked this book. Make sure to tell me, but do it short and sweet.
5. The Blurb
I hate it when the blurb is so vague that I actually have no idea what the book is about. Be specific, make sure I know who your characters are and what kind of situation they find themselves in. Don't give away the ending, but also don't leave me with a cliffhanger question.
Will Emma and Billy-Bob be able to defeat their fear of commitment and share a life together? Blurgh. Of course they will. This is ROMANCE. (and if they don't, I'm gonna be pissed)
Don't fill your whole blurb space with an excerpt. I have a hard time understanding the plot from a one paragraph selection from the middle of chapter 47. Sure, gimme a little selection to see if I like your writing style, but if I really wanted to know, I'd hit the 'Look Inside!' to see.
Did you get great reviews on your book. Super, tell me (see number 4) but don't take up all the space. I still want to know what the danged book is about.
Don't give me a warning about your book or you as a writer. (unless it's clever and funny - See Mel Schroeder's warnings for an example) I should be able to tell from your nicely detailed blurb whether this is an 18+book or a sweet romance. Don't warn potential readers off your book, but do let them know what inside.
Based on these guidelines here's the books I chose today. See if you can figure out what drew me to them. I'm only giving you the covers here (since this is my number one criteria).
Did you figure it out? I'll give you a hint, at least one of these books won a pretty cool award, one is backlist. One bought a cover from a model named Jimmy and one is Amish (which is totally hot right now) That's enough hints.
Which ones are you gonna one-click?