One Reader’s Voice Out Loud With Stuart

Our readers are the foundation of what makes indieBRAG unique.  They not only select the books to become the next B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree but give feedback to our authors. This feedback is important not only to the authors but to the reader as well. Readers carry a lot of weight in what we regard as quality in self-publishing. Not only that but how readers see author’s platforms and performance on social media. Today Stuart shares with us a little about his reading habits, reviewing books, how he finds books, and much more. Thank you, Stuart for sharing with us today.

indieBRAG: How do you find books and what do you think of social media and books?

Via a variety of routes. As a bibliophile, I have a tendency to buy more books than I have time to read, so my shelves currently hold around 120 volumes I have yet to read. Also, I review on my website, so I’m often approached by authors, their agents, or their publishers, to read/review books. I’m as selective with these as with any other: sometimes books offered leave a lot to be desired!  I use Goodreads, and recommendations come via that site. Sometimes another reviewer’s opinion will attract me to a book I might otherwise have missed. And, of course, I peruse the catalogue produced by my publisher to see whether any of those titles might suit me.

indieBRAG: Do you go to an author’s website or social media when looking for a book or do you usually pick a book based on a search on sites such as amazon?

I don’t usually search for books on Amazon, though they are my normal source for Kindle books, simply because of the ease of downloading. But I have bought through author’s websites and have occasionally been tempted by something I’ve come across on Twitter or Facebook.

indieBRAG: If you search books retail sites such as amazon or B&N, how important is the cover, title and synopsis?

Regardless of the source, the cover is important. Anything that looks amateurish would need to have some pretty strong reviews to tempt me further. Titles are more likely to cause a negative response than a positive one: a poor title can be really unappealing. The synopsis is a vital clue to the nature of the story, so I always read that if the cover and title have passed the test.

indieBRAG: Does it turn you off when an author promotes their book on social media a lot?

Overdoing it is a bad idea; it gives the impression of desperation and indicates a type of self-obsession that’s very unattractive. It’s difficult for authors to achieve a balance between no promotion at all and over the top marketing. I prefer those author sites that provide interesting posts of general interest to readers and writers rather than those constantly pushing their own books.

indieBRAG: When going to an author’s blog or Facebook pages do you hope for more than just promotion of their book?

Definitely. A blog or author page dedicated exclusively to the author’s work can be boring. It’s a form of advertising I find unattractive. I hope to see posts and information of wider interest, even if it is associated with the author’s output.

indieBRAG: Does it make you more interested in an author’s books if you feel like you have gotten to know them a bit more?

I know a lot of readers enjoy detailed information about authors, but it’s not an aspect of particular interest to me. I’ve always been more interested in the works of art than the artist who produces them.

indieBRAG: If you meet an author in person – at signings etc.-are you more likely to buy their books?

That really depends on the author. I’ve met a few who managed to produce the opposite effect; putting me off a book I might otherwise have read. So much hangs on the personality at face-to-face meetings. Having been on both sides of the table at such signings, I’m surprised how some authors come across as arrogant, uninterested, miserable or boring. Authors who are pleasant, interesting and amusing are much more likely to gain customers.

indieBRAG: By offering free short stories or pieces that expand on their characters, make it more likely you will look at the books they offer?

Not something that’s been a factor in buying books for me. I look for a complete story when buying a book that’s advertised as a novel and I feel cheated when I discover the story doesn’t actually end but I’m expected to buy a second volume to continue it. To me, a book offered as a novel should conclude the story being told. Free shorts may indicate the quality of the author’s writing, and in that sense they can be helpful. Pieces that expand on the imagined life of a minor character, or describe incidents prior to or following the main story can also be interesting, of course.

indieBRAG: Do you depend on reviews on sites such as Amazon and B&N? If so are you suspect that they may be padded with friends or members of an author’s writing group?

As a writer and a reviewer, I’m always conscious of the problem of ‘padding’ reviews. Often, they can be spotted because of their generic approach and their lack of analysis. I understand why authors are tempted to acquire such reviews. After all, Amazon requires a certain number of reviews before a book features on its lists. And, of course, there are often genuine reviews provided by members of an author’s writing group: so long as such reviews provide an honest opinion, they’re fine by me. Similarly, writer’s friends are bound to want to promote an author’s work. Again, as long as such reviews are the honest opinion of the reader, that’s fine. The problems really lie with those reviews which are bought or, worst of all, those actually written by the author under a false persona. The other issue readers need to be aware of is the occasional troll review produced by a writer envious of the author’s success or talent. Such unpleasant reviews are generally easy to spot because they are so far out of step with all others relating to the book they criticise. Readers do need to beware when using reviews to determine book choice, but I’m sure most readers know about the tricks used by certain authors.


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