• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



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What makes you buy a book? Nicole Murphy

So, here’s a question for you – what makes you buy a book?

Ah, yes. It’s the slightly panicked author, having to accept that she can’t control what happens to her book now; desperate for people to buy it, wondering what she can do to help.

So, first things first – why do you go into a bookstore? Is it to buy a certain book? To see if the latest from your favourite author is in? Are you out of reading material and you’re just browsing?

Me, I tend to be a mix of looking for a certain book or browsing. When looking for a certain book, it tends to be that of a friend or someone I’ve met. I’m a sucker for this – if I meet you, and you’re nice, then I’ll go buy your book. I have a terrible time at cons – keep meeting authors, keep liking them, keep buying their books and the to-be-read pile grows and grows (I think about what my book buying will be at Worldcon and shudder).

At the moment, I’m trying both to buy all my fellow Voyager authors’ books and to buy books from friends who are publishing at the moment.

When browsing, I tend to go to the section of a store. At the moment, my big kick is urban fantasy/paranormal romance, so I’ll go there. Generally, my beeline is for the science fiction/fantasy section. From there, I’ll move over to the romance section. I tend to not need to move on from there :D.

Alright, let’s say you’re browsing. You’re in the store, probably at the section of books that you are most likely to buy. What gets you to pick up a book? Cover? Title? Store recommendation? Does the number of copies on the shelf mean anything to you?

I tend to be a bit of a cover gal. If something catches my eye, I’ll pick it up and have a look. This generally means that a book facing out has more of a chance with me then one with just the spine showing. However, if there isn’t a cover that catches me, then I’ll start looking for titles. There’s particularly clues I look for eg if I’m in a vampire mood, anything with bite or death is probably what I need to find.

 I’ll also look to see if it’s a series and if so, is book one there. Nothing worse than buying a book and when you get home, realising it’s not clear that you needed to read a previous book. I HATE books that don’t make that clear on the cover.

At this point I must thank Voyager for the FABULOUS covers I’m getting for the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. They’re very eyecatching, I think.

Now you have the book in your hand. What convinces you to buy? A quote from the author? The blurb on the back? Do you flip it open and read?

I have a friend who actually uses the author photo as part of the buying process. If the author looks like someone that he’d relate to, it helps sell the book.

I’m not so into author quotes myself. Instead, I’ll read the blurb and if it intrigues me, will then go in to read a few pages. Generally near the front, and around the middle. Do I like the tone of the writing (I’m not into overly descriptive stuff, for example)? Does the internal seem to be matching what the cover and blurb are promising?

Again, kudos to Voyager for the blurb of Secret Ones. I think it’s fabulous.

So, what makes you

a) go into a bookstore,

b) pick a book up off the shelf and

c) decide to buy it?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Nicole Murphy is the author of Secret Ones, Dreams of Asarlai Book One. She has been a teacher and journalist, but is now concentrating on her writing. She has had many short stories published, and has edited speculative fiction magazines. She lives in Queanbeyan with her husband Tim.


26 Responses

  1. This reminds me of one of my favorite passages on finding your book…(from On a Winter’s Night, A Traveler…)
    In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:
    the Books You’ve Been Planning Top Read For Ages,
    the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
    the Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment,
    the Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case,
    the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
    the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
    the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,

    Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread and the Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.

    With a zigzag dash you shake them off and leap straight into the citadel of the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You. Even inside this stronghold you can make some breaches in the ranks of the defenders, dividing them into New Books by Authors Or On Subjects Not New (for you or in general) and New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Completely Unknown (at least to you), and defining the attraction they have for you on the basis of your desires and needs for the new and the not new (for the new you seek in the not new and for the not new you seek in the new).

    All this simply means that, having rapidly glanced over the titles of the volumes displayed in the bookshop, you have turned toward a stack of If on a winter’s night a traveler fresh off the press, you have grasped a copy, and you have carried it to the cashier so that your right to own it can be established.

  2. That’s fabulous, Jeff 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  3. I have always gone into bookstore, often pulling my much protesting parents or frineds in with me >.< Then I landed my dream job of actually WORKING in a bookstore and I am in heaven.

    Why I buy books?
    I must admit I am a cover girl, if the book doesn't have a cover that catches my eye then I generally skip it. I really like the covers that has a scene from the book on it, so when i come to that part I am like wow thats what it looks like.
    The next thing that draws me is the blurb, it has to sound interesting. I also love titles, if it has an interesting word I can't spell then I am hooked.

    I really like reading what other staff members have to say about books. In my store the whole fantasy section is full of my reviews and remarks becuase i know my customers like knowing someone has read it and loved it!
    Thats how I pick a book 🙂
    It may be the greatest book in the world but if it doesnt catch my eye or speak to me then I generally wouldn't pick it up.


    • That’s interesting that you like words you can’t spell or that are complicated. I wouldn’t have expected that.

      Thanks Tarran

      • I remember Stephanie saying she steered away from titles that were foreign, difficult to pronounce etc. My working title for Path of the Stray was Avogadro’s Stray, vetoed for those reasons.

  4. I never ever go into bookstores. I buy online. I look for new releases, I check favourite authors, and when I buy a book I look for what others who have also bought this book have then gone on to buy and check through those. I check listmania (on amazon.co.uk), I ask people to recommend thins.

    But I never ever go into a bookstore. It is simply way too tiresome and they have such poor stock (very limited).

    • That’s an interesting idea, to check the recommendations. I only go online if there’s a particular book I’m looking for, not to browse. I might give that a go next time, see what new thing I discover.

      I think some bookstores are better than others. Unfortunately, my local bookstore isn’t very good, but then I can spend hours browsing through the big ones in the city.

  5. Before my Kindle, I’d go into bookstores looking for a recommended book – sometimes by a writing blog, a new release for an Aussie author or a friend. Now I only go into bookstores to browse for the kids! And I’m a sucker for the covers and blurbs that connect with me.

  6. It’s been a looong time since I’ve bought a fiction book. Usually nowadays I read non-fiction. For example, right now I’m reading The Secret Lives of Famous Artists (did you know that Picasso spent time in gaol, and that while in the depths of his mental illness Van Gogh ate paint from the tube?).

    “Slightly panicked”, hey? Count yourself lucky; I had a full-blown, two-week-long nervous breakdown complete with vomiting and sobbing fits.

    Yeah, I bet you’re all thrilled to hear that. Heheh.

    • Thrilled, Katie, thrilled 🙂

      Haven’t broken down in tears yet, but too busy writing book three to do that. Although this might explain why I’ve been unwell for the past three weeks 🙂

      • If it gets too bad, just remind yourself that you’re doing this because you love it, and anyone who thinks you suck can go jump in the lake! It worked for me. Eventually.

  7. Some bookstores can be horrible, no stock and unfriendly service… been there hated that.. We are a small store but have been told that we have the best stock selection a lot of people have seen in awhile.
    The prices are better online, the only bad thing is the waiting time.. What really bugs me is that when you go into a shop you expect people to know what they are talking about, they should know their stock, and yet it doesn’t always work out that way!!

    Haha everyone in Adelaide, no everyone in Aust. should come to my store >.< hehe we at least read 🙂 For example Sara, we stock all of your books… I am always getting people saying to me that they LOVE you!

    @KJ Taylor there are some fascinating reference books out there!! I particularly love the useless information ones, i could read from them for hours. There was a book that came in today called the "Floating Brothel" and its about the convict ships and the women who came over from England.. very interesting.

  8. If I vanish in a shopping centre I can usually be located in a bookshop. May not be able to afford much at the moment but I still look. Combination of books I’m keeping an eye out for and whatever happens to grab my attention. Read lots of fiction and non-fiction to balance each other out.

    • The balance comment is a good one. I think I need a bit more balance in my reading – urban fantasy/paranormal romance is fabulous, but brain needs to be stretched too.

      Must read faster.

  9. It’s a mixture of things for me – word of mouth and friends recommendations are a major influencer though. If I’m in a buying mood (which I am more often than I should) I’ll impulse buy a book based on the cover and blurb.
    But if I’m dithering over what next to buy I’ll always suss out customer reviews on Amazon or the like even if I’m not buying online. If they don’t sway me to buy the book they usually end up pointing me in the direction of another book I’d like more.

    • Thanks Jane. I’d often wondered if people actually used the Amazon reviews. You see authors asking people to review, or thanking for it, but you wonder if it means anything from the buying perspective.

      The issue for us Aussies is that our books don’t appear on Amazon until they’re available in the US, so you’re not always seeing every book that’s available.

  10. I browse online and buy all my Kindle books that way, and most of my physical books too. I like quite a few different bookshops so I tend to buy some titles from each one over the year. The thing about online browsing is, all the books are facing out with quick links to reviews, author sites, other books by the author, and other books in the genre. It’s easy to compare. (People who bought this book also bought . . .)

    If I’m in a physical bookshop, I like to chat with the sales person about new releases etc. It can be quite fun to see what they’ve read and what they recommend.

    Covers influence me, as do titles. Shout lines too. I can’t say exactly what it is that gets my attention–but I know it when I see it.

    My eye always goes first to authors I know, a number that is growing all the time. Nicole, I’m also working my way through every Voyager book and every Aurealis short list.

    Great topic. Thanks for bringing it up!


  11. […] What makes you buy a book […]

  12. I have really struggled with this “what makes you buy a book” question. I am trying to think back to the time before I was influenced by where I work as that has changed things a lot.

    It used to be that I would buy a book because it was a favourite author or genre. If it was just down to genre, maybe the cover image would get me to pick the book up, but it would be the jacket copy that would influence the actual buying decision – it’s the storyline I was interested in, not the “artist’s impression”.

    Later I worked for a book club and often all I had to go off to write my own copy was the marketing materials for the books; we didn’t always have the books themselves, or even pictures. I regularly filled my car with books from the weekly sale – clearly the marketing material worked on me.

    Nowadays, thanks to platforms such as twitter and various blogs, I hear about upcoming titles a lot more and get more recommendations, plus I meet and talk to more authors so, like Nicole, I find myself looking out for books by people I know or am likely to meet – this is a realisation that I find slightly surreal. My credit card is already sweating at the prospect of WorldCon and my bookshelves are quaking!

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