With a countless number of books waiting to be read in the world, we as readers all have our ways of narrowing down our selection. Besides considering a book’s presentation (cover design, book blurb, sample chapter, reviews, etc.), we may base the choice of our next book on genre, author, our mood at the time, or we might even rely on good old-fashioned “eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”
However, when it comes to our process of book elimination, or even how we judge books in general, how much do we presume about a book or an author before we know much about either? It’s possible we aren’t always even aware of our presumptions; we just see a book we’re unfamiliar with, and several instant (likely conditioned) thoughts speed through our minds.
Authors the world over may be faced with any number of presumptions about their books or themselves. As an author, I’m aware of some of the presumptions that may come with my particular territory.
Please bear with me if I’m a bit facetious.
“A female author of sweet romance? There must be a scene where the heroine flees to her room, throws herself down on the bed, and bursts into tears. Or she cries herself to sleep one night in lovesick despair.”
“A black author with black lead characters in her book? Hmm. The story’s probably full of neck-rolling drama or may be too ‘ghetto’ or smutty for my tastes.”
“An indie author? Bad grammar and a lot of typos in her books, most likely. If no real publisher wanted to publish her, she must not be that good.”
“Oh, she writes Christian fiction? So squeaky clean it’s unrealistic, I’ll bet. Or it’s probably preachy—detracting from story to make way for a ‘come to Jesus’ agenda.”
“Why all of the novellas? She can’t write a whole book? Her stories must be rushed, underdeveloped, too light on plot, and then—poof—they’re over.”
And this past week, another presumption was brought to my attention by a fellow reader/author. (This is a paraphrase of the sentiment, mind you, not something the reader/author said about me specifically.)
“Authors write trilogies to drag a story out to make more money. So you can skip the second book in her trilogy, or pretty much any trilogy nowadays, and you won’t miss anything important.”
Yikes. Do people really do that?
Now, I’m not saying any of this to belittle any book, author, or reader, nor am I saying that thoughts like the ones above are wholly inaccurate in all cases. Nonetheless, until you’re truly familiar with an author or his/her writing, your presumptions about his/her work are just that: presumptions. You might be right about that author or book you haven’t read—or you might be wrong.
So. Whatever your particular presumptions as a reader may be, I’d encourage you to pause and recognize them, and then to be careful with them. Who knows? You might be missing out on books that would pleasantly surprise you.