What's Stopping You?

I’ve run into this as a writer and a reader a few times. No, not an actual brick wall, though as someone who used to read and walk at the same time I’ve come close. Preconceived notions have stopped readers from trying my work and has stopped me from reading others.

In the first case, I have two good examples. There are people who didn’t listen to Archangel because they were afraid I would preach at them. I also recently had a reader who said that they didn’t typically read any stories featuring gay/lesbian/trans characters because they tended to bash conservatives. This could have stopped them from reading “Compass Rose”. Thankfully, there are people that climb over the brick wall of preconceived notions and find the garden inside.

I’m not above this, myself. These days I tend to stay away from anything that looks like traditional/epic fantasy. Too often, the author is rehashing the same old tropes and I get bored. I’m sure that as a result I’m missing out. I could very well have missed out on Ravenwood if I had stuck to my guns. I’m glad I didn’t.

So I have two questions, which I think is really just one question. How do we avoid this? As writers, how can we encourage readers to check out our takes on stories they may be disinclined to look at? As readers, how do we open our minds to the possibility that we’ll find a gem in an unexpected place? Is it a matter of the right cover or book jacket blurb? Is it possible at all?

To answer that I guess the real question is, what made you pick up that book that you would have ordinarily avoided?

2 thoughts on “What's Stopping You?”

  1. This isn’t helpful, but the last book that made me challenge my own prejudices about what was “good” to read and what wasn’t, I did because I knew the author’s work. I knew Scott Sigler from books like Earthcore, so I hurdled the “I’m not interested in football” barrier because I trusted the author to give me something good.

    Your mention of Ravenwood is well received, since I had the same experience with Lowell. I loved the Solar Clipper tales, so I was willing to give Ravenwood a try.

    If you’re a well-known author, you can do this. RE: Richard Bachman. If you’re not? That’s a tough question.

    The only thing that comes to mind is presentation. Leaving a blurb or cover image that challenges the preconception might help. For example, if I wrote a novel entitled “I Love Nazis” (provocative, no?) which was actually satirical of racist or fascist movements, I might include an image of the Furor wearing a thong on the cover.

    Possibly not the best example… Hopefully makes my point, regardless. I’ll now go and attempt to erase the image of Hitler in a thong from my mind.

    1. That’s a fair point,fame/strong relationships can do that. There’s also a role for the cover to play.

      Also, thanks for tbe image. 🙂

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