Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How Being A Writer Has Changed My Book Buying Habits

Photo Courtesy of Visual Hunt

I’ve noticed a trend in my ebook buying habits over the past year. My purchases tend to fall into one of two camps. Camp number one represents either a book by an author I love (and hence a no-brainer purchase) or the rare book that really catches my attention (interesting premise, great voice, etc.). Camp number two involves books that are merely okay, but which have a voice or style similar to mine. I buy these books because I want to learn from them, to see how to craft sentences that work—not because the story is great. In other words, I buy it to satisfy the writer in me, not the reader. 

Not that I can't learn from the first group of books, but their writing is usually so far above my station it’s difficult for me to pick out the nuances. What I learn from this group involves aspects of story structure. Where did the character arcs occur? How did the authors pull off that intricate subplot? Why did they choose one method over another? The high level stuff. 

The end result of all this is that I’ve become jaded in my book buying habits. If a book doesn’t grab me immediately, then I won’t buy it unless I think I’ll learn something from it. No more middle ground. No more fun little reads. I already have so many TBR and IKINR (I Know I’ll Never Read) books on my Kindle, there’s no incentive for me to do anything else. 

Is it just me? What are your book buying habits these days?

ChemistKen


16 comments:

  1. I guess you aren't reading any of mine as I fall in neither camp.
    I'm probably reading more from the first group.

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  2. I don't buy a lot of books anymore because I'm already busy reading a lot of submissions.

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  3. I can't find enough in those camps so do pick some Just For Fun. Like Alex's!

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  4. I'm quite similar in my habits. I have my auto-buys for sure and then ones that are going to show me something new about my genre or my writing or something! :)

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  5. I get lost in books I pick up and don't think about the things it could teach me. Although, since starting writing, I do notice things now that I never did before.

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  6. I still buy "fun" reads that I don't plan to think about, but then if they are good (plot+writing+loved it), then I usually reflect on why they were good and if I re-read, then I look for lessons in the writing. So, even the "fluffy" kind of reading is helping me with my writing. On more "serious" reads, I really wish I could describe like Tolkien, but do it in a way that would satisfy a 21st century reader who likes quick descriptions, and write dialogue like Austen, but again do it in a way that would grab a reader's attention today, and ... so on and so forth.
    My guilty/super-fun pleasure reading (Melanie Cellier's entire fairy tale retelling collection) has me wanting to write books that others just enjoy from beginning to end. And, when I think about it, I wonder if those are the hardest kind of books to write.

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  7. My book buying habits have changed quite a bit over the past year, as I've been intentionally discriminating against certain books that aren't really hooking my interest on the fly. I want to get to the books that grab me pretty much right away. Like you, I have way too many books to read already, so anything new has to either be further books in a series I already intend to continue on with, or books that I can tell within the first chapter are MY kind of books.

    I have no time for books that supposedly require some time to get into them, or only have a good ending. Nope. Get to the good stuff right away, or perhaps the narrative voice or tone is spot on--that works for me, too. It has to be right away, though. It's something I sort of "sniff" out that I can barely explain. Intuition I guess. You have to do it when you've got a wall of books already at home to read. Lit agents basically are like this with manuscripts for the same reason. There's a huge slush pile and they don't have the time to read everything all the way through, so you query them and they read 10 pages, etc....

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  8. I think I get what you're talking about. I guess there are three kinds of books I buy: books in my genre, books that are similar to my style (but outside my genre), and then books that are just for fun. Obviously there can be some overlap, though, with books that are "just for fun" but also happen to be in my genre, or have a style similar to mine, etc.

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  9. I was telling some friends about this the other night. I actually said that writing has totally changed my reading habits. I'm very impatient. I'm much more critical than I used to be. I've very selective in what I buy.

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  10. No, it's not just you. I was speaking about this with another author the other day, about how picky we are these days. :)

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  11. My writing definitely informs my reading decisions. I read a book recently that didn't fall into either camp (didn't live up to the premise on the cover) and I felt almost like I'd wasted time. It wasn't a bad book, just not particularly great nor anything I could learn from.

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  12. I only buy what I think I might like. Life's too short to read mediocre books, and I hardly have time to read these days to begin with. So I'm pretty selective. However, at the library I don't mind grabbing a few "maybe" books to taste test, since I'm not out anything if I don't like them.

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  13. I completely agree. my book buying habits are jaded and I buy few and far between. but I also hve limited reading time so thats another reason I’m selective. I’m lucky some of my favorite writers are people I beta for! but I buy them too! and review - we need to support each other =)

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  14. You know, I tend to buy WAY more books than ever before. Because of my writing, I'm super liberal in the genres I'll try, and the more broadly I read, the better an understanding I have of story on a subconscious level. I still read stuff that is just for fun, but only since I stopped reading as many ARCs.

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  15. I agree that writing a lot changes the way you read and what you read. I for one have a lot of writers I know now and I try to support them, however, I alternate between reading someone I know and someone or something like a classic or just something I love to read. I try to write what I enjoy reading so I can also look at the stuff I read as learning for the genre I'm writing in already. I do that with a lot of things in life. But I do understand that there's also this critical eye on the writing or some degree of what am I learning from this writer's style, syntax, voice, etc. instead of simply enjoying a story. That happens less than it used to, but I'm determined to hold on to some of that playfulness in my reading. Good topic!

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  16. It's not just you. I read books in the genre I want to write in for the same reason, looking for clues on how to do it better. I also read so many how-to manuals its crazy and I always go for the hard copy in non-fiction.

    The writing industry probably thrives because writers like us buy so much. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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