Looking back at the posts in this series, I’m starting to get a complex about being wayyyyy too picky with my reading. Thankfully, I’m running out of reasons why I stop reading books, so I’m going to finish this series with a final post on why readers might stop reading your book. It’s a blessing and a curse: Personal Preference.
Basically, no matter how well written your books are, certain people will never read them because they’re not the kind of books that they like to read. It’s really that simple.
Here’s an example: I remember starting a book that had everything a good book is supposed to have: solid writing, likable characters, high stakes. It was a dystopian set in a future where there were no trees. Interesting premise, yes? I thought so. The lack of trees made for an arid, dusty, sterile-feeling environment, and the author did a masterful job of drawing that. But here’s the thing: as a reader, I’m kind of weird in that the setting is hugely important for me. I like settings that are rich and thick and textured—places I would like to visit or even live. This was not one of those places. The story was good, but I just wasn’t feeling it because I couldn’t totally buy into the setting.
Let me reiterate: nothing wrong with the book. It just happened to go against one of my personal preferences.
Here’s another example: Recently, I picked up two different books by favorite authors of mine. I was primed to really like both of these books, but I didn’t make it all the way through because they were written in a genre I don’t normally like to read. I was hoping that my love of their writing would get me past the genre, but it didn’t. That is all.
Other Books That Pretty Much Everyone Liked Except Me: The DaVinci Code. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The Hunt for Red October. All great books. Couldn’t get into them. Why? I don’t know. They just weren’t my thing.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to fix this particular problem, because it’s not actually a problem—not like the other reasons we’ve discussed in this series. There isn’t something you’ve done wrong or need to change. Some people simply aren’t going to like your book, no matter how great it is. And there’s precious little you can do about it.
What you CAN do is 1) accept that some people just aren’t going to like your stuff, and 2) write for the people who get you. Also, study the craft. Practice, practice, practice, so you can put out a quality product that won’t contain the gaffes we’ve discussed in this series and cause your eager audience to toss your book aside within the first twenty pages.
And for the love of all that’s chocolate, if you review books often, please don’t pan a book because it wasn’t your cup of tea. Angela and I have run into this a few times, where we were given a bad review because the reader didn’t understand what our book was supposed to be about. If there’s something wrong with a story, by all means, let the review reflect it. But don’t discourage other readers from picking up a book simply because it’s not the kind that you prefer to read.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I’ve learned a lot by figuring out why certain books didn’t work for me. Here’s hoping that we can put these ideas into practice so our readers keep reading, page after page after page.
Need to catch up? Here’s the rest of this series on WHY Readers Stop Reading:
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.