Monday, March 15, 2010

Auto-buys and Not-to-buys

I read a lot - I mean a lot, a lot, a lot - and while I have a ton of keepers, I don't keep books I don't plan to re-read. This means I don't have easy reference for the not-to-buys - you know, those authors that you absolutely know you don't want to read again. I'm not sure if I'm getting pickier, or what, but my list of not-to-buys is growing faster than it used to. In fact, back in the day (put in here for Kate Davies - she may remember why), I kept the list of authors I didn't want to read again in my head. And I could remember every name on it because there were so few.

Nowadays, and for the last couple of years, that list is on my computer and I add to it more than I'd like. I dont know why that is. Maybe I'm getting older and more picky? Maybe my TBR pile is so high, I realize I have to limit myself and this is one way my subconscious achieves that? I'm not sure; I just know that I'm finding a lot more authors lately that really aren't my cup of tea. The good news is I'm adding to my auto-buy list at the same rate (which is bad for my budget, my bookshelves - that same TBR pile - and my schedule LOL).

Ending up on my auto-buy list isn't as easy as it sounds. The first foray into an author's creativity must yield a significant interest in reading the next book. That book must satisfy emotionally and logically, but I'll admit incredibly well written emotion wins out over plot holes and character malfunction. So, an author who irritates me for her/his lack of logic, follow through or character consistency can still end up an auto-buy for me if the emotion is written so compellingly I can't put the book down. So, while many components may go into the decision to make an author an auto-buy, it is made or broken on the emotional one.

Ending up on my not-to-buy list usually happens for three reasons.

1. The author's technical skill needs so much work, I can't slog through the pages regardless of the great emotional premise, fantastic setting and quirky characters.

2. The author pushes one of my ultimate hot buttons. Things like infidelity while the couple is still together (I'm not fond of infidelity when they are separate, but still married either, but this is not going to automatically dump an author on my not-to-buy list.), betrayal that is never atoned for, disrespect that is never apologized for, flipping the HEA of a previous book, continuous and blatant character stupidity, etc. if taken to the extreme will put an author I haven't read much on my NTB list immediately. They go on my "be wary of" list if I've read more than three books by them and liked the others. :)

3. My visceral reaction to the book just isn't there. If an author writes with a style that leaves me feeling like I might as well have read an Algebra book for all the emotion I'm experiencing, there's almost no chance I'll buy that author again.

It's your turn: what makes an author an auto-buy for you? What makes him/her a not-to-buy? Do you even keep a list of NTBs?


Sabrina M. said...

Auto- buys:
- stories with strong heroines and heros that show respect to themselves and each other
- great secondary characters
- when I have the feeling that the author cares about his characters
- books with a positive and happy feeling

- continuous and blatant character stupidity (you are so right)
- beind stupid and careless when it comes to sex
- infidelity is a no go
- lots of rape and torture in the book or in the past of ther main characters (I really don't like the endlessly tortured heroine).

I read to have fun so I don't want to have too much negative things in a book.

Judy said...

I have a list on my computer, too: Yes and No. My Yes list is much smaller and has shrunk a little of late. If I don't want to read it again, the book goes to the Friends of the Library and the author goes on the No list. There isn't enough time in my life to read books that are okay or even those that have one or two great moments. Gotta Love It or Let It Go.

My partial but definitely not complete lists (I agree with some of the reasonings on both Lucy's and Sabrina's lists):

-any author on my Yes list.
Why they're on my Yes list:
-Characters, characters, characters. They have a sense of self and accept responsibility for their own lives. They aren't waiting for someone to "fix" them or even for love to make them whole. I like the instant attraction, but what good is it if they don't work at the relationship? Respect is huge for me. I'd like to hang out with the characters, and I learn to be a better person from them.
-I want to come away from the story feeling uplifted and hopeful.

-Hero/heroines that are manipulative or abusive.
-There's no other way to say it but stupid, unpleasant characters that aren't the villain.
-Really foul language. Yep, I find it a downer and distracting in a story.
-The happy ending is too short! I want to savor it!

Lucy Monroe said...

Sabrina M - that's it - you've hit the nail on the head, I want to feel uplifted when I'm done reading. If I don't, the book was worse than the evening news. ;-)

Judy - I loved your comment about learning to be a better person from the characters. Lori Foster's "Say No to Joe?" put her on my forever autobuy list. She writes amazing characters with so much integrity that you can't help wanting to be a better person reading her books. :)

Melissa said...

You've listed many of the ones I consider no/nos ~~ I HATE infedelity when hero/heroine have actually met. I can deal w/ it if they're not together, but once they're a couple, nope. I dislike heros who treat heroines w/ total disrespect and never atone for it or come to a relization about it. I don't like TSTL heroines ~~ I can handle ditzo, or just fun and full of life, but I don't like stupid. And if I just can't 'feel' a book while I'm reading it? that's a sure way for me to not buy that author again.

Lucy Monroe said... sounds like many of us share some similar "hot buttons". Not too surprising considering we often like to read the same stuff too. LOL

erahime said...

Gawd, don't make me go there. I have become quite picky in my TBR list, and I used to read some authors but now I don't because 1) I lost interest, 2) I skimmed through a book and realize I don't like, so I won't go read any more of the books, 3) the story didn't grab me, and 4) lots more reasons that I'm just too lazy to put down.

I've read SO much that I had decided that some authors are not work my time, some authors are worth my time, and some authors are sorta worth my time, depending on the stories. I have a few authors I auto-buy, I have a few series I want to read but don't auto-buy, and some random books that caught my interest and just want to read. I've picked a few new authors in their time, have them become famous, read a few more and then lost interest.

I agree with the others in this really REALLY major no-no: INFIDELITY SUCKS!!!! I hate infidelity and don't care to read it in the stories. In romance, I HATE it there. That's why I was turned off this one author's series and decided not to read any more of that author's works. Yes, in that historical setting, infidelity is the norm, but if I want to read a romance book, I don't want it there. My HEA MUST have no infidelity; that is a requirement that is non-negotiable.

I had made a list online and in a notebook about all the books that I've read, at least when I began putting them down. In consequent years, the list has been getting shorter. And the authors had become more repetitive. I had bought books, read them about mid-way, and end up not continuing reading them because I just didn't like the way it was going. It also sorta helps (or not) that I sometimes retain some highlights of said story that if I come up to them at a later date, I remember it and steer clear of it.

I'm getting sidetracked but yes, I'm part of the list group. I do have some auto-buys but not alot. And I've become pickier.

That's basically it.

erahime said...

--I had made a list online and in a notebook about all the books that I've read, at least when I began putting them down. In consequent years, the list has been getting shorter. And the authors had become more repetitive.--

This means that I have read more books for a select group of authors in past years.

--I had bought books, read them about mid-way, and end up not continuing reading them because I just didn't like the way it was going. It also sorta helps (or not) that I sometimes retain some highlights of said story that if I come up to them at a later date, I remember it and steer clear of it.--

This meant that I have read books that aren't my taste, but it could be the author's or the story's fault. Sorta like your "be-wary-of" list.

I just want to clarify that when I saw how I put that paragraph that way.

lidia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lidia said...

Well, I deleted my post because of the typos that I found -- too bad there is no "edit" feature here.

Great topic! I am not going to repeat everything that others have said. I tend to agree with just about everything that was already said. But, I will expand on a few things.

I have a three strikes policy -- to removing authors from my auto-buy list. Once I read three books that I don't like by a particular author I will no longer buy her books (unless someone I trust highly recommends a specific title). My auto-buy list has also shrunk a lot. Alternatively my so-so list is longer and I'll pick and choose titles by authors on that list.

With regards to infidelity, if the H and h are married and separated for a long length of time, I understand that logically at least the H will have had some relationships. However, I "can't stand" when they are separated for less than six months or just weeks and he's already jumped into bed with others. How could we realistically be expected to believe that he every loved the heroine? Then, when he doesn't bother to even apologize for his actions --that's a huge turn off.

One thing that has not been mentioned that I try to avoid is siblings ending up in relationships with an ex. The whole brother/sister deal just don't work for me. I find it too incestual (even though it really isn't). Just can't wrap my mind around the fact that the H was involved with or even married to the heroine's sister first or vice versa. Plots with twins are the worst in my opinion.

In Historical books I am bit more tolerant of certain things only because of the time period. But even in those books I don't like reading about the Hero raping and beating the heroine -- doesn't seem romantic in any way.

I love alpha males. However, an alpha male is honorable. He may make mistakes because he believes something that isn't true or because he hasn't acknowledged yet what the heroine means to him. But, once everything is in place in his mind he will nurture her, protect her and love her.

For any relationship to succeed it needs the following: love, trust, respect, loyalty and fidelity.

I read for enjoyment. Because my time is limited it frustrates me if I end up with a book that pushes my "hot buttons." What a waste of time!

In excel I keep a spreadsheet with the books that I've read (I need to update it actually). It contains the author, title, series, H&h and a brief blurb (to jar my memory).

One thing that bothers me is that I can't figure out if it is the authors who are spreading the wings and starting to write books with infidelity of if it is the editors pushing for that. I find it difficult to believe that an author who never included infidelity in her books (and has been writing for years) would all of a sudden decide that her character needs to be unfaithful. We probably will never know the truth about that.

Leni said...

I will put authors on my auto-buy list if they write well developed characters and stories that are told well. I don't have a not-to-buy list.

Lucy Monroe said...

I have to say that I am really enjoying everyone's insights and the fact you're all so willing to be open about what makes stories work and conversely not work for you. :) THANKS!

I can say with absolute certainty that I have never had edtitorial steer me toward infidelity, but particularly at Presents, authors have a great deal of autonomy in creating their storylines. I've had a single title editor tell me she didn't want another virgin heroine (a few years ago - I'd written them for her since)...LOL But not how to make the heroine more "experienced" - I ended up giving her a divorced backstory. :) That kind of input is rare though and to this day I feel it was more she was in a mood than really would have cared if my heroine for that book was a virgin. :)

Amy said...

I have quite a few authors on my auto buy. The main thing that makes certain author's auto buys for me is if a author can make me feel what the characters are feeling, am I emotionally involved in the storyline?

I really don't have a large list of authors who's books I don't buy but one of my not to buy things is books without a happy ending. I read alot so if I find a book by a author that I don't like I will give that author another chance because that book may not have been my cup of tea. If I continue to come across a author who's books I don't enjoy then I will quit buying that authors books

erahime said...

Many ppl have given valid points to their reader preference. Keep it up, ppl! :)

Lucy Monroe said... thing I love is how very practical the readers on this blog are. :) No need to tear anyone apart (which I LOVE) and giving people a chance to show they can write a book you can love. It's all good! Thanks!

Kimberly Fisk said...

For me, it's all about emotion. I love when an author moves me. But having said that, I don't read any books that deal with children being hurt no matter the emotion. And I'm one of those that can't get rid of a book to save my life. We seriously need to add onto our house just so I have more book shelf space. :)

lidia said...

Off topic -- Hugh Jackman is on the Jay Leno show tonight -- do I need to say "YUMMY?"

Michele L. said...

My auto-buys are:
1. Subject matter. Has to have romance in it.
2. Hot hero's! I can't stand when the hero is portrayed as ordinary, wimpy, and lacking personality.
3. Favorite authors!
4. Great covers! I am seriously addicted to great art work on covers. Also, certain colors I just love! If a cover has to much black, and doesn't have a catchy title, I probably won't pick it up. It is a visual thing with me when I buy books.
5. Genres - I love romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, mysteries, comedies, chic-lit, and fantasy. I recently started reading YA books and some are really great!


1. Can't stand stupid books. I once started a series of YA books that I heard were great. They were so blatantly stupid that I could not get into them. A book has to have a good plot for me to stay involved in it.
2. Can't stand whiney characters. I have read some really great books that had a whiney character and geesh! Enough all ready! The character was this way all the way through the book. I was hoping that they would change by the end but no such luck. Whiney characters are a no-go for me from now on.
3. Infedility is a big turn off!
4. Don't like books with cruelty of any sort.
5. Can't stand when there is an overuse of cursing. Lot's of vampire books have it and I don't like it. Most times I will mentally change the word to something else.
6. Abrupt endings. I like stories that have epilogues. I have read some books where it just ends, no explanations to the forever after with the couple, sometimes there were items left hanging, etc. I make a list of those authors and stay away from their books.
7. No plot line and way to much sex. I want my stories to have a plot. There are some people who like the erotic books but I like books who have some sex but don't overrule the story.

Great topic Lucy! Sure was fun reading everyone's lists.

Lucy Monroe said... sound like me. :) We moved me into a smaller office and took over the upstairs family room for the library. LOL

Lidia - oh, yummy indeed! *is* fun hearing everyone else's list standards, but I'm seeing some patterns emerging and I'll have to say, I'm not really surprised by them. :)

Valerie said...

I sense a theme here, and find that a lot of my reasons for auto-buys are the same as everyone else's. I have several authors that stay on my auto-buy list. Over the years I have taken a few off the list and as new authors have come out I have added them. I have my bookshelves arranged as such. All of my auto-buys are on the bookshelves in my office. The buys, but not auto-buys, usually end up in the library (spare room that's used for all my hobbies - mostly books). I do have keepers, and I will re-read over and over again.

Not-to-buys: Infidelity is a huge NO. I really hate when an author does a rape scene. I know it happens in the real world, but I don't want it in my romance. I read romance because it's uplifting and I am pretty much guaranteed that the story will end on a high note. The reason I don't read time travel romance, the only genre I hate with a passion, is that this leaves the possibility of no HEA at the end of the book. HQ did a series like this years ago and one of the authors did not give a HEA at the end! I never bought another book by her. Yes, I love emotion in my books. I don't want to be traumatized though. Which leads to my next pet peeve, I do not want to read a story where it turns out the heroine has been kissing the devil. Happened, never bought that author again. How can you trust an author that will mislead you that way...I'm sure I was supposed to learn something but it was too traumatic for me to even keep the book in the house that night. I actually took it out of the house and threw it away. I couldn't even pass it on! So, no longer buying those either. I'm not really fond of the multitude of demon books coming out lately. This makes me wary. And I doubt I'll buy those.

I have enough stress in my life. When I sit down to take a trip in someone else's world, I don't want to have a lot of stress come along. I want to laugh along with the author, and learn new things I may not have known, rediscover things I thought I knew and generally have a good time. Books are like mini-vacations, they take us out of our busy lives for a moment and give us a space where we can refresh our body, mind and soul.

Becke Davis said...

I'm going in the opposite direction. Where I used to limit my reading to certain authors/genres/sub-genres, now I'm much more adventurous and I'm willing to give anything a try.

Of course, my TBR pile has grown accordingly and I doubt I'll ever get through all these books. Especially since I DO reread old favorites. I give away books on a regular basis, or trade them, but I'm always adding new books -- as fast as I empty a bookcase/shelf, I fill it again!

Lucy Monroe said...

Valerie...I think a lot of readers feel that way, that there is enough stress in day-to-day life, they don't want the negative unresolved stress in their entertainment reading too. ;)

Becke...I've definitely gotten broader in my range of interests, but in doing so have come across more authors who make me grind my teeth and end up on my auto-buys. I suppose it's the law of averages? :)