I got a bit of a surprise this week when my college kid told me she was reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub; because of her current class workload (including a hefty course in western lit) I thought that she didn't have time to read for pleasure. Then she mentioned that her boyfriend had given her the book because it's his favorite, and it made a little more sense (and now I know the boyfriend is a serious reader -- gave Mama here a moment of utter joy.)
As busy as work/home/life is it's easy to assume people don't have time to read. I used to feel apologetic when I give someone outside my circle a book because I bought into that myth, but the truth is most people will make time to read a book -- as long as they're curious enough or think it's worth it. Thus getting people properly motivated to crack those covers and dive in is the real trick.
I read a lot about books online, and the one thing that captures my attention 99% of the time is humor. If you can employ something fun (a cute video, a tongue-in-cheek post, a list of laughable points) to get me interested in your book, I'm usually motivated to invest. For this reason I also frequently use humor when I recommend other author's books; I know how well it works on me.
Other factors involved in me making time for a book:
Cover art and quotes don't impress me (occupational hazard), but short and very well-written cover copy or a teaser can, as long as there is a strong, substantial hook involved. Has to be pretty tantalizing, though.
Online samples are great motivators, but I think most authors post too many chapters. At most I read only the first page or two of a sample or excerpt, and I don't think I'm alone in this.
Recs from a reliable source are great as long as they've never burned me in the past with a lousy read they've pimped for a publisher or pal. Sources can be anyone in your life -- one of my neighbors is at the top of my trusted rec list because she's never once steered me wrong.
Notoriety can create buzz but I'm kind of contrary when it comes to that; the more notorious and buzzy a book is, the faster I run from it. Interesting and thoughtful discussions about a book work better for me.
Freebies like short stories set in the same universe or part of the story told from a different angle always get my attention because I've used them so often to promote my work, and I'm always intrigued to see what other writers are doing. I like free stuff a lot, too, and a freebie gives me a chance to test-drive the author before I invest. If I don't care for it, I don't get mad because I didn't spend any money on it.
I don't borrow books from anywhere but the library, but if I was more of a dedicated e-reader I'd probably check into the loaner options the e-booksellers offer and swap books with another e-reader pal. Unfortunately my Nook died last summer and I haven't gotten around to replacing it.
What motivates you to make time to read? Let us know in comments.
Image Credit: robynmac