Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Monday, April 30, 2012

Jumping the Line--How Books do it

So, I have an ambitious goal to read 366 titles this year. It's crazy but I'm actually on track to do it--I'm even ahead right now (131 as of last night.) Luckily, I read fast and some of those books will be MG or novellas and thus shorter. Having almost my entire To-Be-Read list on my Kindle helps so I don't waste time hunting for books or trying to decide what to read next. The downside of it being so easy to slide books into those Kindle categories is that there are now over 400 titles waiting in line to be read. 

I'll wait while some of you pick your jaws off the ground. 

Some are free, some have been Kindle Daily deals... and I try to snatch up things while they're on sale. So, that's not as bank-breaking as it might sound. I still spend far too much on books, but not quite that much. The weird thing is that the last group of books I've read have been in my TBR categories under a week. 

There are a few different reasons this happens. 

First and foremost, I'm attracted to the shiny.  These new books have just strutted in with the luck of timing and they're in my short term memory banks. I remember a great premise or a blurb full of voice for about a week. These are just lucky books. Unfortunately, luck is a huge factor in publishing success in my opinion. 

Second, I've bumped things that I'd like my kids to read to the top of the list. So, books I'm set to preview get bumped up to a priority so that my kids never lack for books to read. I read Cryptid Hunters last night for this reason (also it had an amazing premise)... along with the Grimm Legacy (another amazing premise), and the False Prince (see below.) I also bump things up the list for book club. (Tonight I'll be reading Peter Pan for that reason.)

Third, my friends have had books come out so I've read them in order to review them positively on Amazon--if I like them.  Otherwise, I get really quiet and never mention I read them. When I post all 366 titles at the end of the year, there'll only be a small percentage of them that I post positive reviews for. I really don't like everything--despite how it might appear from my Amazon reviews. I'm grateful there are people out there who post negative reviews but that's just not me. I'm a really loyal friend--I love to buy my friend's books--this is a huge factor for me. I'm just one person, but I do buy with my heart. I appreciate authors like Kiersten White who never make any fan feel like less than a friend. My friend's books often jump the line (if the timing works out)--there should be some perks to being my friend. 

Fourth... and this is what I'm finding interesting... some books just jump the line with one or more of these four WOW factors--and these are things that authors CAN control: 

1. Great word of mouth on Twitter or online. This is actually why the False Prince jumped the line. I read an amazing review on it. On Twitter, it has to be genuine word-of-mouth. I'm numb to most self promotion unless it's from a real Twitter friend. So, this might be less controllable--depending on how good your book is, but it is a huge influence and it's a good reason to build a platform on the social networks. I also see books reviewed on blogs and it makes them jump the line. Word of mouth can be a strong influence--especially when combined with other factors below.

2. A phenomenal blurb that hooks me--like really, really, really hooks me. This is why the Banshee Charmer jumped the line--in addition to being by a friend. It's rare that a blurb in paranormal grabs me because paranormal blurbs are so unique that they're not unique.  Paranormal is a crowded bunch.  Banshee Charmer's blurb just grabbed me and it jumped the line. I also read a romance called Morning Man after reading a short Twitter blurb from the author that convinced me to check it out. (Sophie & Carter got me through a Twitter blurb too.)  I think back-cover blurbs are even more important for ebooks than they were for deadtree. I'm not influenced by placement in the store or how many copies are there. It's all about that paragraph and the book's premise. 

(As an aside, I hate when authors put reviews and recommendations in the spot on Amazon for the blurb or before the blurb. I don't like when you immediately tell me how much other people like your book before I even read what it's about.  It feels manipulative like peer pressure.)

3. An excerpt which tugs me into the story and, well, I've already started it... I should just read a bit more.  If you get me to cheat and read the first three or more pages, I frequently just keep reading. This happened with Tawna Fenske's Believe it or Not. (Tawna is another Twitter friend, so you can see that it's usually more than one factor that causes a line jump.) An excerpt should always be after the blurb, though, and not be super long. I'm intimidated by long excerpts. 

4. A cover that rocks my world... but, strangely enough, the draw of this is waning. The cover pull used to be stronger with deadtree books. A good cover will still get me to buy the book but it doesn't always get me to bump it up the line. It's not like I can really see the cover on my Kindle or have people see me reading it and comment about how gorgeous it is. (Okay, I'm a bit superficial about what I'm reading--this worked to books' detriment too--ask me how many bodice-rippers I used to read when the covers were visible--but it's not a factor now with the Kindle.) So, the cover may sell the book but the other factors above are what usually get me to read it. 

Anyway, I've been analyzing what makes me bump books up the TBR line and I found it interesting. What makes a book jump the line for you? Anyone else have a ridiculously large TBR pile? 


  1. I bet I don't help at all, since I'm constantly recommending books to you... but books are awesome, so I see no problem here. :)

    hm. I'm mostly a mood reader, so I'll go through my stack of tbr books and whichever one jumps out at me... is the one that's read. also, yes, I have a HUGE tbr pile. I plan on reading through half of it this summer.

  2. Yeah, Ashelynn, you're no help with keeping that TBR list manageable, but at least you're helping me weed out trilogies. Some of those 400+ books are on hold due to being in unfinished, cliff-hanger trilogies. You were a factor in me being up until 2 a.m. reading Cryptid Hunters (fan-girl squeal--that book was sooooooooooo freaking awesome!)

  3. I very rarely buy books- we just flat out do not have the money for it. So I rely heavily on the library. For niche LDS books, I have to buy those because the library out here won't stock them. My TBR list on Goodreads is ridiculous, though. I rely on word of mouth, and then once I get a recommendation, I check to see if it's getting decent reviews. I don't have time to waste on poorly written junk, so I will rarely read anything with less than a four star average.

  4. Gina, I don't waste time on poorly reviewed books either anymore. The result is that I don't read many bad books these days. I love Amazon reviews for that. I used to waste time on lame books a lot--now, it's rare and it might just be about preference. I have three other people on my Kindle library so that does spread the cost somewhat, but I get a ton of books for free on Amazon. I stalk the Amazon free lists for highly rated books. I still buy too many books, but I like to call it "research."

  5. I think covers and the blurb are what make books jump the line for me. Of course, it also helps if they're new and other people are raving about them.

    I can't spend time on poorly reviewed books either. I'm spread thin enough as it is--my reading time is uber-valuable!

  6. Your reasons for bumping books up the TBR list was very interesting.

    I havea few hundred books on my Kindle too. Lots of (free) classics I've been meaning to get round to.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  7. I have a pretty manageable pile and a HUGE mental list. That's because I mostly get books from the library or buy them to give away on the blog. It aslo means that some books jump the line just because I have to mail them and want to finish reading them before I do. Also, if it's a favorite author or a book I've read and loved, it might jump the line becuase I know I'll get lost in it and sometimes I need that refreshment. :)

  8. Hmmm... Any chance I could send you a copy of The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society? It's an anthology and I'm looking for a review that will help us make improvements on the 2nd Edition. All reviews so far have been positive, but somewhat biased toward liking us already :). No big problem if it just sat on your "shelf."

  9. Stephanie, yes... friends raving about books have been my downfall lately--see Ashelynn above--she's THE WORST. I should just hook her up to my Amazon acct and have her order my TBR pile.

    Moody, I have a bunch of free classics too that are on my list for this year. I'm trying to have a decent variety in what I'm reading: classics, nonfiction, YA/MG, romance, sci-fi, fantasy... but it's been heavily weighted toward romance because that's what I read when I'm stressed out.

    Miriam, my TBR used to be manageable before I got a Kindle but without the physical drawback of storing books--it's HUGE. My line jumpers have been that way too--something that will be less stressful for me.

  10. Carrie, I looked it up on Amazon and I'm intrigued. Is it as short as the stats indicate? DM me the details on Twitter and I'll send you my email on there. (@WendySparrow)