Writing and Publishing

What Do Readers Care About?

When book readers consider our book, few will bother to look to see who published it. They won’t care if a major publisher, let alone any traditional publisher, produced it. When it comes to publishers, there is little brand loyalty, let alone much brand recognition. The imprint is of no consequence. How the printed book gets into their hands or the e-book gets into their reader doesn’t matter to them.

Here’s what does matter:

Book Readers Care about the Cover

What they will look at is the cover. They will, in fact, judge our book by its cover. First impressions matter a great deal.

Book Readers Care about the Title

The title is critical, too. Depending on how they discovered our book, whether they see the title first or the cover first, the other element will seal the deal—or not. If the cover is great but the title, lame, they will dismiss it. Similarly, if they see the title first, a great cover will move them towards a purchase, while a bad cover will move them to a different book.

Book Readers Care about the Formatting

Next, they will look at the insides, whether thumbing through the actual pages or clicking online. If the layout looks “normal,” they will proceed. If it looks odd—even though they won’t know why—a red flag pops up.

Book Readers Care about the Content

If our book passes these first three screens, they may actually read a section or two. Great writing beckons them; bad writing or editing—even average writing or editing—sends them packing.

Only when they get this far will they consider buying it.

Readers don’t care if our book is traditionally published or self-published; they care if our book is professional looking, well written, and interesting.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

8 replies on “What Do Readers Care About?”

Thank you, Peter, for outlining the reasons readers buy–or don’t buy– a book.

I agree, unless I know and love the author and trust him to write about important topics that help me grow. Then I don’t give a second thought to how the book looks.

What would an “odd” format look like? How about unjustified right margins? I like the playful page, with text broken with quotes, poems, prayers, images, and challenges/take-away-reflections. That’s how I plan to have my “Sailing to Ithaca: A Year’s Journey, Nurturing Body and Soul.”

Be well,


Katina, yes, I too have bought books with less than ideal covers because I knew and trusted the author.

As far as “odd” formatting, it’s hard to explain, but I know it when I see it. Something just looks wrong, like the font used, the line spacing, or maybe the margins. It throws me off just enough that I know it will distract me if I read it – so I don’t!

I have to say that I haven’t yet found a book that distracted me.

Peter, what do you think is the best fond to use. I am planning to go with Garamond 12, but because of Macular Degeneration I find it difficult to read for long. Can a book be printed in Bold characters or larger print?

Garamond is a serif font and a good choice, but someone who specializes in interior book design will know for sure.

As far as using bold and larger print, I would recommend against that, as many readers who don’t require a “large print” edition won’t read one that is.

The good news is that if you publish an e-book, readers can make the font as large (or small) as they like.

That makes sense…about bold and larger print and the choice in an e-book to enlarge. Garamond seemed to be OK with my publisher during the original submission.
Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to help.

All best…great week!

Nice revisiting this post, Peter. Both my comments and yours too.
Haven’t made any new decisions, yet.

Comments are closed.