10 Things I’d Like Authors to Give Me as a Reader

IMG_0568Since the times I remember sneaking off to read my mother’s books instead of doing the vacuuming, I’ve had a love affair with words on a page and the secret stories they tell. Here are some of the things that keep me coming back over and over to the second love of my life–reading.

  1. Characters I can enjoy if not respect. While I like to read about characters who grow and overcome a flaw or two, that’s not always the most important thing for me. Rather it’s spending my time reading about people who, while human, are basically trying to do what’s right as they march through my life for the time I’m letting them into my house. I wouldn’t invite creeps in my front door so why would I want to read about them?

  2. A sure mastery of the language which enhances the book in some way. When I started reading Laurence Hill’s Book of Negroes, I knew tbonwithin two pages that in my hands I held the work of a master. This author’s use of words blew both me and my husband away. Hill’s skill told me immediately of his writing prowess. Can you tell I loved that book?

  3. I like a premise and a plot which pique my interest so that nothing can keep me from starting and finishing that book. Not for me the book which languishes half-read on my night table–there’s one there now. By contrast when a book absolutely takes me into its clutches and won’t let me go back to my own life until it’s finished, that’s a story I’ll remember forever. I won’t have to look up the notes I made after finishing it. That book will become part of me.

  4. I want to care what happens to the hero/heroine and that caring should encourage me to live vicariously through him/her so completely that I, too, change by the end of the book. We all love a good story but if we learn or evolve because of that story, so much more rewarding is the reading experience. It can last a lifetime.

  5. One reason I like historical fiction is it’s based on true occurrences which have been enhanced and enriched by fictional scenes, character, and various other elements. Even the settings can be partially fiction. As a writer I love dreaming up where my characters might be, what the room smells like, whether a stream meanders close by, and who might be preparing to step onto my page. Oh, I don’t mess with the history but I do add to it in sort of a could have happened way. I get to play in both worlds–historical and fictional.

  6. This next is a biggy. I want the editing to be excellent so that my eyes don’t get sidetracked by a typo or, worse, an error in fact. Some readers absolutely delight in finding an author’s errors and quickly send an email pointing out with not a little pride those errors. My reason is my unhappiness in being taken away from the book itself by the intrusion of the error. That being said I’ve had to learn that typos are almost impossible to avoid. Still I and my author friends do all we can to achieve perfect copy for our readers.

  7. I want the cover to grab my attention, to make me look inside to see what treasure might be hidden there, and to give me a synopsis which reflects the book’s heart without giving too much away. The author’s picture pleases me, too, and some tidbits about just who he/she is. Covers fall under the category of that saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. With that in mind authors and publishers must do the best they can to make every cover a winner.

  8. Call it personal taste but I really like a good fast-paced or at least varied pace book. One of the best compliments I receive about my own books is that people can’t put them down. I love to hear that I’ve so captivated my readers. On the other hand finding a book which does the same for me is absolutely energizing. Chapter endings have a dual purpose. They end a scene but they must also make the reader want to turn the page.

  9. Fiction must have at least one clear and intriguing theme to hold my interest. So much the better if they have several as the longer ones so often do. And themes need to touch my brain or my heart. They need to beg me to follow them so closely that even when I’m far from the book I’m reading, my mind wanders back to some chestnut it wants to crack.

  10. Here’s one I always used to hate as a student because I couldn’t quite sort out its meaning–mood. I’ve interpreted this as the elements of the book which effect my own reactions and even feelings. When I’m writing a tough part for one of my characters I know it’s effective if I’m wiping away my own tears as I write it. I don’t, however, want my whole book to do that or my readers would not be able to read on. The mood must be varied, not all sad and certainly not all happy or what’s the point? I just watched the last episode (6) of Wolf Hall and it left me shocked and saddened beyond measure. If you know the story of Anne Boleyn you’ll know already her end but you won’t know Hilary Mantel’s take on it. I haven’t read the book but the miniseries uses mood to great effect.

So there you have my list. You may not agree and you’ll most certainly be able to add your own points to it for the simple reason that we humans are not clones. We like different things. Feel free to add your own thoughts below.

Elaine Cougler’s website: www.elainecougler.com

Make this author happy. Write a review on Goodreads or Amazon. 🙂


7 thoughts on “10 Things I’d Like Authors to Give Me as a Reader

  1. This is a great summary of what makes a book great and what makes it a great read, Elaine. Every writer and reader should live by these when choosing what to read and what to publish.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with those who commented above as well. I thought the Book of Negroes was very well written too. I love being taken into a world of word and be forced to check my earthly surroundings occasionally to get grounded again.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts together like this.


  3. You wrote:
    “Rather it’s spending my time reading about people who, while human, are basically trying to do what’s right as they march through my life for the time I’m letting them into my house. I wouldn’t invite creeps in my front door so why would I want to read about them?”

    Exactly. I will never understand why stories about inhuman, unhuman, or more animal than human characters sell so well.

    Excellent article.


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