I spend about 2 hours a week going through the blog email, deleting spam or things I have no interest in, catching up on blog subscriptions and in general, finding new books to read. This often means I have to sort through the numerous emails from authors, publishers and Netgalley emails I receive, too. And that made me think, what entices me to read an ARC when it’s pitched?
A good title will do wonders to grab my attention. It’s like any newspaper headline, you know? Buzzfeed and HuffPo are pro-headline creators! But I’ve seen many books where the title is horrible, and yet, I don’t recall reading any of them. Funny how that works?
Covers are the wrapping on a book and they should always look spectacular. Hey, you can’t please everybody, but even if someone doesn’t like a cover, they can recognize if it was at least well-done or not. A picture speaks a thousand words and all that, and if a cover is really horrible, I’m passing on the book, until someone tells me to look twice because it’s really good! I have NO SHAME in being a cover whore. NONE.
The synopsis can be so sneaky and ultimately why I now primarily use the ratings of my fellow reviewers before deciding if I am going to read a book or not. A good synopsis will draw me in, despite the cover and despite the title. A good synopsis will have me flinging confetti from rooftops in my joy and excitement to read it: “Oh you mean it said it was about unicorns shitting rainbows under the bright sun on the shores of a magical paradise island with mermaid warriors?! Sign me up!” Cue hype.
I won’t lie, the rating is the biggest of them all these days. I’ve been lied to by titles, covers and synopses before, but ratings hold some grain of truth to them. I look to my book community to tell me if this book is even worth taking my time to read or listen to. And if I’m completely honest with myself? My rating threshold is a four. Yep, four stars and you’ve sold me. Anything less than that and there is a good chance I am going to completely pass over your book. I recognize that four stars is a difficult number to achieve but frankly, I don’t want to spend my time reading anything less than what I think might be a stupendous book. Life’s too short to read bad books. And it’s not that threes are bad books; but if you had a choice between a three-star and a four-star, which one would you choose? A fabulous example of a book that tricked me with the title, the cover and the synopsis (and where I definitely should have read the ratings):
The Social Code (ugh)
In a world where anyone can rise to the top, the only rule is… watch your back. Eighteen-year-old twins Adam and Amelia Dory learned the hard way to rely only on each other, growing up in a small town where they understood the meaning of coming from nothing. But everything changes when both are offered scholarships to Stanford University – and catapulted into the dazzling world of Silicon Valley, where anyone with a good enough idea can skyrocket to fame and fortune in the blink of an eye… Amelia is almost as pretty as she is smart – almost. A shy girl and genius, she is happiest alone in the computer lab, but her brother has other plans for her talents: A new company that will be the next Silicon Valley hit, and will thrust Amelia into the spotlight whether she likes it or not. Where Amelia’s the brains, Adam’s the ambition – he sees the privileged lifestyle of the Silicon Valley kids and wants a piece of what they have. He especially wants a piece of Lisa Bristol, the stunning daughter of one of the Valley’s biggest tycoons. As Adam and Amelia begin to hatch their new company, they find themselves going from nothing to the verge of everything seemingly overnight. But no amount of prestige can prepare them for the envy, backstabbing and cool calculation of their new powerful peers. Welcome to Silicon Valley, where fortune, success – and betrayal – are only a breath away…