My Favorite Book Ingredients: My Reader (and Author) Wheels
In two of my most recent Women With Books podcast episodes (with Becca Syme and Roni Loren), I discussed the concept of reader wheels. Basically, it’s what readers of a certain type of genre or sub-genre expect when they approach that sort of book.
A corollary to a reader wheel is an author wheel – that is, what an author brings to every book. This might also be known as an author’s “core story.” Ideally, an author can eventually make a promise to a reader – that X, Y and Z will be found in every book written by that author. (I can hear some writers grumbling or protesting now, but that’s a debate for another time… with alcohol involved.)
Because she’s on top of things like this, Roni Loren wrote a blog post outlining what she likes reading and the aspects she hopes is also in her books here.
Of course that got me thinking about what I like to read the most and sure enough, I realized that it’s also the same things that I *hope* are in my books.
1. “Voice” / humor / banter.
Voice is that indefinable quality that writers and readers can recognize in an instant – a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book *sounds* different from a Sarah MacLean book which *sounds* different from an Ilona Andrews book. Once I find an author with a voice that I click with, I’m basically their servant for life.
For me, a good author “voice” is almost synonymous with an inherent humor, but it doesn’t have to be. I also think snappy banter/ dialogue is very entwined with an appealing voice but again, that’s probably my preference.
And I’ve been told my books are funny (even when I’m trying to be serious!) and have *my* voice (even when I’m trying to sound different!) so if you like *my* voice then maybe you’ll like the books I love and recommend, too!
2. Romance/ sexual tension/ romantic interest
I don’t always read romance, but I do always like to read *something* with a romantic interest or some sexual tension. It just makes the whole thing much more satisfying (that’s what she said.)
Similarly, I don’t really write straight up romance but even if I write a mystery novel, you know there’s going to be a hot cop. Or a hot private investigator. Or a hot… accountant. That’s my solemn vow as an author.
3. Mystery/ magic/ quest/ twist
I think this is the wheel where genres start getting blurred around here. I will read romance… but my favorite-est romances are those where there’s a twist or some sub-plot with a mystery to solve. I love a vaguely paranormal aspect to plots, too, or just straight up paranormal/ time-travel, etc.
You see this in my books because I love putting in a psychic or a tarot card in the middle of a royal adventure. I really adore writing mysteries and I think I keep things fairly twisty in any of my stories. (A twist even popped up in Resisting Santa – where I was trying to write a straight-forward, simple, trope-y romance!)
4. Female focused.
I prefer reading about the female experience, written by female authors, about feminist topics. I really have to have A LOT of recommendations to get me to any book that’s about a dude written by a dude. I know a lot of people could call that reverse sexism but… I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As I taught my kids, “don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”
And as I mentioned recently in my blog post about Queens and the Patriarchy, exploring female power and friendships is a theme that keeps popping up in my books – so I guess my subconscious has something to say about it!
5. Good writing!
This is sooooo subjective. It’s a lot like pornography. You know it when you see it. And everyone’s opinion is different – and valid! What clicks for one person might not click for another and the books I recommend might not click for you. But I promise that ANY book I recommend will be edited, contain good grammar, spelling, etc. And my books? I don’t give my AGENT a manuscript with mistakes, I definitely wouldn’t sell one to a reader!
So those are my wheels. If they sound like yours, then you should follow my blog or sign up for my newsletters for lots of awesome book recommendations. Also, I have books for sale, if you want to check them out, because most of them are like ^^^^.
But if you like your books with paragraphs of detailed description, tons of angst, loads and loads of sexy times, or lots of dudes and their dude-ish stories, my recommendations might not be for you. Which is cool. Because out of all the promises I make as an author, I promise to never yuck your yum.