How do you choose your next great read?

I’ve heard some people say that cover art isn’t terribly important. Oh, so wrong… at least in my opinion. My reading preference is historical fiction. I look for covers that convey the past: historical images and a strong sense of what the book is about. That’s the first step.

Next comes the title. Does it sound interesting? If yes, then I click the Look Inside button. For me, and I hadn’t really thought about this before, the title typically isn’t as important as the cover image, although sometimes the two complement each other perfectly. If the image isn’t quite so exciting, the title can still hook me — or vice versa. Maybe I lean toward the image because I’m a visual person, being a writer and an artist.

My next step, and I love this about Amazon, is to check out the first sentence and paragraph to see if it catches my attention. I’m really looking for that “hook” effect. This interests me because, like many of us, getting that first sentence and paragraph just right is difficult. If the first bit is good, if I get a good sense of setting and main character and what the plot might entail, then I often continue reading the first few pages. I also want to check out the author’s writing style. If it’s smooth, easy, catchy reading that continues to draw me in, I’ll click the Buy button.

I recall one book I checked out recently. The premise sounded good. The cover art was okay, but my first impression was that it was something more paranormal-ish. But I kept on and read the first page and it was a turnoff for me even though the reviews looked pretty good. I’m a novice writer, but it was full of sentences starting with “I.” Many telling words (hear, feel, etc.) instead of showing. Even though it was written in first person, it sounded like a third-person narrative. Overall in that first page, for the emotions that should have been going on, the words come across as rather humdrum. I didn’t hit Buy, which disappointed me because based on the synopsis, the story sounded interesting. And, maybe I missed out on a good book — my loss but a lost sale for the author too.

What do you look for when you search for new books?

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