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hat Do Readers Want? What makes or breaks a book? How do we rate the books, or determine if it is good literature or a good story? What do we want from an author event? 

Well if I had the answer to that, I’d be a billionaire publisher! But as an avid reader, I can tell you what I find consistent across the board.

A book has to be true to itself. If it is spit and polish, but no substance, then what’s the point of spending time with it? By the same token, if it’s still in rough form, and no one took enough time to clean up the manuscript, why should I take the time to read it?

But if a book has plenty of verve, has been crafted with care, and has something new to say, it’s worth it.

Artist unknown. After: Reading by lamplight, Delphin Enjolras

To rise to the level of literature, I think a book has to stand the test of time. It has to find a connection with readers in different eras and generations. These stories and books remain relevant, regardless of when they’re read.

The author’s ability to tap into this universality is something that will always interest readers and fellow writers. Having been to numerous festivals, conferences, readings and other book events, I am always hopeful the moderators will ask insightful questions.

This is a special opportunity to have a conversation with the writer and too often it’s wasted on all-too-common questions like, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “How many hours a day do you write?” These are often answered in a bio or FAQ.

I want to know things that demonstrate the questioner has read their work and is already familiar with their story. I want to make connections and learn things I never would have known otherwise. I know they are often there to introduce people to their book(s) but I want more than a publicity event.

What makes a book work for you? How do you want to connect with an author?

8 thoughts on “Armchair Book Expo: What Do Readers Want?”

  1. Wonderful post! I really like your point about a book standing the test of time! For me personally, what makes or breaks a book is simply my interest level. If there isn’t something I am really enjoying, I will put the book down.

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