Readers' Favorite

January 30, 2015

Leonce Gaiter: Why Men Opt Out of the Fiction World

Fewer and fewer men read fiction.  They compose only about 20% of the fiction market according to surveys. Some lay this off to genetics, suggesting that the way men’s minds work discourages them from entering into another’s experience the way fiction demands.

“Boys and men are, in general, more convergent and linear in their thinking; this would naturally draw them towards non-fiction,” wrote author Darragh McManus, pondering the question.

Others, like Jason Pinter, suggest that the overwhelmingly female publishing industry simply overlooks books that appeal to men because they fall outside the female experience.  In other words, men now suffer the same fate women suffered at the hands of a male-dominated publishing industry for so many years—and payback’s a bitch.

Others suggest that boys are discouraged from reading at a young age by children’s books that fail to engage them.  Give them the proper material, the story goes, and young boys will engage with reading.  As proof, they point to the fact that young males were principal consumers of the Harry Potter books.  “More boys than girls have read the Harry Potter novels, according to U.S. publisher, Scholastic.  What’s more, Harry Potter made more of an impact on boys' reading habits. Sixty-one percent agreed with the statement ‘I didn't read books for fun before reading Harry Potter,’ compared with forty-one percent of girls.”

I always balked at these rationales because I, and men I know, read fiction all the time.  However, thinking on it, I had to admit that I avoid modern fiction like the plague.  I have tried the popular plot-thick page-turners and the feel-good tearjerkers and the occasional cause celebre with a literary reputation.  So many have left me so cold, that I simply won’t shell out the cash for a paperback or ebook version, much less a hardcover.

In the Company of Educated Men
Trying to assess what I found lacking in most of the current novels I attempt, I find their utter reliance on the world around them (and me) supremely dull.  So many work so hard to place characters in a world I will recognize.  Too many work too hard to create characters with which I (or their prime demographic audience) will ‘identify,’ and recognize as someone they could be, or someone they know.

It then made sense that men would ask why they should read something “made up” about this world when there was plenty of factual reading material on that subject.  I have never approached fiction to re-visit “this world.”  I’m already here.  Instead, I want an alternative—a vision of this world exhaled through the writers’ and characters’ hearts, minds and eyes.  Exhaled with the distinction of the smell of an individual’s breath.  Fitzgerald’s Long Island in The Great Gatsby is his own creation, no kitchen sink recreation.  Fitzgerald’s people and prose warp this place into something utterly unique.

Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles is his distinctive projection of that city. You don’t pick up Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me with the idea of identifying with the protagonist.  You don’t grab Faulkner to meet the boys next door or titter with recognition of your kith and kin.  You don’t visit Patricia Highsmith or Mary Renault to look in a mirror.  You pick them up to enter worlds as fantastical in their way as Harry Potter’s.  I read fiction to meet characters I otherwise would not.  I read fiction for the larger than life—not a retread of this one.  I want to watch and think with characters who are nothing like me, who dare what I never would, who experience in ways that I cannot.

In an article titled, “Why Women Read More Than Men,” NPR quoted Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, suggesting a biological reason why women read more fiction than men:

The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.

Reading fiction does not require that you empathize with characters in the sense of “ascribing… feelings or attitudes present in oneself.”  It requires that you regard and grow intrigued by characters such that you may come to a greater understanding of them—perhaps even to the point of empathizing with them.  However, you need not imagine yourself as them, or believe that they behave as you or as members of your social circle would. That’s not reading; it’s narcissism.

Perhaps more men stopped reading fiction when fiction stopped regularly presenting unique, literary revisions of this world, and settled for presenting a photographic facsimile such that readers (most of them female) could better “empathize.”  Maybe we’re too megalomaniacal and obsessed with grandeur for that, and thus want words recreated and re-imagined, instead of rehashed.

“Shall I project a world,” asks Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49?  Somewhere along the line, in tandem with the female domination of the publishing industry and fiction readership, the ideal of doing so fell from vogue.  Instead, writers rely more and more on identification with this one.  Male readers seem to have checked out.

Buy In the Company of Educated Men at Amazon

About the author
Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels.  His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, ( is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.
Twitter  *  Blog

In the Company of Educated Men is also available at the following retailers


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guest writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

January 29, 2015

Book Marketing 101

by Donna Huber

I've seen several posts on Facebook where first time authors have asked about marketing their books. I haven't had the time to answer any of the authors, but I thought a quick overview of first steps in marketing a book would be useful. I must tell you though, marketing takes time and you just as you had to put time in learning your writing craft, there is a learning curve with marketing. There is no magic bullet, just hard work.

Create Word of Mouth Buzz

The success of a book is dependent on word of mouth, regardless of the publishing route. General readers discover new books based on recommendations. What book are their friends talking about?

Every aspect of your marketing should be focused on creating word of mouth buzz.

Get Social

Our circle of friends has expanded beyond the ones we see in real life. It also includes people we've met and connected with online. Social media has also made it easier for people to talk about their favorite books. Before you even publish your first book, you should have a social media presence - Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. You don't have to be every where, but be some places.

The first rule you should follow is BE SOCIAL. Be real, be a person, make friends. Talk about your favorite books, what you are watching on TV, parenting, etc. Build a repertoire with your followers and they will be more willing to listen when you publish your book.

When you are ready to starting marketing, provide your friends with graphics and teasers to share. Cover reveals and emotion-evoking quotes are examples of shareable content to start generating word of mouth buzz.

A word about quotes... Readers like to connect with the characters. Pick teasers that allow readers to connect with the character. Often you want them to think "I want to be that character. I've been there. I want a character like that in my life". If you write romance, you might want to choose teasers that make readers want to fan themselves. Horror writers - choose quotes that will send a chill down their spine.

If you are blogging, you can share larger excerpts to whole chapters to build interest in your book and to give readers something to talk about. Consider ending the post on a cliff hanger.


You will want reviews for your book. Objective reviews are important. So you will need to ask more than just family and close friends to write reviews. The friends you make online may be good candidates. But also reach out to bloggers. You may get wrapped up in wanting a lot of Amazon reviews, but don't discount the power of bloggers. A mistake I see many authors making is contacting me (and I assume they are doing it to other bloggers) and asking me to write an Amazon review (the pitch doesn't even mention my blog). I spend a lot of time on my blog. I have put a lot of work into building a readership. It is more likely that readers will find my review here, than they will on your book page at Amazon. If readers don't know your book exist then they aren't searching Amazon for it and therefore won't see my review. However, if I post my review here, people are regularly visiting my page. They have signed up to get notified of new posts.

I automatically delete any review pitch that only ask for an Amazon review. You should be thrilled to get a review posted on a blog regardless if the blogger decided to also post on Amazon.

Generate Publicity

The third aspect of marketing of creating word of mouth buzz is generate publicity for your book. You may do this through interviews and articles. Again bloggers can assist you with this by featuring you on their blog. But don't over look magazines and news outlets. If you are a children's or YA author, check into local family magazines for possible article submissions or an interview. Depending on the size of town you live in, you may have access to a local news station or morning show (radio or television). Having a media kit will be helpful in making these pitches.

There are a number of award programs that your book could be eligible for. Keep in mind that not all rewards are created equal and there is usually an entry fee.


Events can be a great way of creating buzz and getting people talking about your book. These events can be in person or online. Book signings and festivals are good ways to interact with fans. You can also check with local school and civic organizations to be a guest speaker. If you are a non-fiction writer (and in some cases even fiction writers) look into joining the speaker circuit. Even making yourself available to book clubs can help (get familar with Skype so you can virtually visit clubs that are too far for traveling).

Online events can range from Facebook parties or blog tours. With online events, you want to make sure you have a lot of shareable content for fans to post on their Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds.

I tried to provide an overview so that you have a starting point for creating your marketing plan. The specifics are up to you and should be tailored to your genre and personality. If you need more information about any of these, I have written separate posts (probably multiple posts) on these topics. I highly recommend you going through the Tips category to more how-tos. But also do your own research. There is plenty of info out there about marketing books.

January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wedneday: Darkness Rising by Ross M Kitson (@rossmkitson)

by Alison DeLuca

Besides being a great guy, Ross Kitson is a serious talent on many fronts. His writing is incredible, and he also creates beautifully detailed maps.
You can see both in his Darkness Rising series, a must-read for any epic fantasy fan. I love the books because they have real characters, heart-pounding action, and constant surprises that keep me turning the pages to read more.
Here is the cover for the latest installment, Darkness Rising (Book 5: Broken):


PS - The cover was created by Ceri Clark, who has been on hand to do each book for Ross. She's always amazing, and she outdid herself here with Broken.

And here is the blurb for Broken:
'Beneath the veneer, beneath the beauty, there is always the coldness of stone.’ 

Tragedy has torn apart Emelia and her companions, a terrible betrayal instigated by the Darkmaster, Vildor. A devastated Jem struggles to control the fearful power of the crystals, becoming distant from his closest friends. Hunor and Orla are tested by a secret from the past, a revelation that will change everything between them. In the Dead City, Emelia begins a search for her past, a journey that will plunge her deeper into the darkness of Vildor and his twisted schemes.

Desperate to seek aid in their battle against Vildor, the companions travel north to Belgo, capital of North Artoria. But everything is not what it seems in the palace, and danger lurks in every shadow, whether cast by friend or foe. 

Separated and alone, can Emelia, Jem and Hunor hope to prevail? Or will the evils of the present and 
the past overcome them at last?

Darkness Rising 5 – Broken is the fifth in the epic fantasy series that reviewers are calling ‘epic and 
spellbinding.’ It is a must read for fantasy fans the world over. 

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links.

January 27, 2015

Review: A Whole New You by Brett Blumenthal

by Donna Huber

A Whole New You
As part of my goals for 2015, I want to read the books in my review pile under my coffee table. These are actual print books sent to me (it's anyone's guess how many ebooks are in the review "pile"). Some have been sitting in the pile since almost the beginning of my blogging days.

One book in the pile seemed perfect to start the new year with - A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life by Brett Blumenthal.

I don't read a lot of self-help books but I thought this one might give me some food for thought if nothing else as I feel a changes is needed in my life.

I liked that this book was mostly focused on doing than just giving inspirational stories of how others made change in their life. Actually about a fourth of the book was workbook like. Having included the workbook within the book was a plus for me as well. Self-help is a money making industry and many books make the workbook or journal something that must purchased separately.

Because A Whole New You is focused on the work rather than the inspiration, it makes clear that true change, true betterment, takes hard work. I didn't actually do the activities, because it would have taken me much longer to get through the book than I typically spend on a review book. One could spend several weeks just going through the activity, particularly if self-reflection hasn't been much of a priority in the past.

If you do  read self-help books often, you may find yourself with a sense of deja vu. Blumenthal relies on several popular books (e.g. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). But as I said Blumenthal wants to focus on the work you need to do to achieve your goals.

If you are finding it difficult to keep those New Year's resolutions you made, then you may want to pick up A Whole New You. If you are truly wanting to make the change, then I fully believe following the activities in the book will get you where you want to be.

Buy A Whole New You at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook, paperback (254 pages), audio
Published: December 2012 by Amazon Publishing
ISBN13: 978-1612186153
Genres: non fiction, self-help, health living
Target audience: adults
Source: publicist
Read: January 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made through the above links.

January 26, 2015

Mailbox Monday - Jan. 26

by Donna Huber

I just couldn't say no to a few books and they found their way into my mailbox.

Love by the Book
A hilarious and refreshingly honest foray into modern dating, Age, Sex, Location is Bridget Jones's Diary for HBO's Girls generation.

An American living in London, Lauren is intelligent, beautiful and loves to party. So why can't she convince a man she isn't after something more serious than scrambled eggs and goodbye in the morning?

Determined to snare some regular male affection, she embarks on a project: each month she will follow the rules of a different dating guide - from refusing to pay the bill to chatting up every man in her path - and will switch seamlessly to the next book at the end of each month.

Lauren's love life is about to get scientific . . .

Buy Love by the Book at Amazon

The New York Times bestselling author examines how our sense of touch and emotion are interconnected

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure, David J. Linden presents an engaging and fascinating examination of how the interface between our sense of touch and our emotional responses affects our social interactions as well as our general health and development. Accessible in its wit and clarity, Touch explores scientific advances in the understanding of touch that help explain our sense of self and our experience of the world.

From skin to nerves to brain, the organization of the body’s touch circuits powerfully influences our lives—affecting everything from consumer choice to sexual intercourse, tool use to the origins of language, chronic pain to healing. Interpersonal touch is crucial to social bonding and individual development. Linden lucidly explains how sensory and emotional context work together to distinguish between perceptions of what feels good and what feels bad. Linking biology and behavioral science, Linden offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word.

Buy Touch at Amazon

Shadow Ritual
An electrifying thriller about the rise of extremism. Two slayings—one in Rome and one in Jerusalem—rekindle an ancient rivalry between modern-day secret societies for knowledge lost at the fall of the Third Reich. Detective Antoine Marcas unwillingly teams up with the strong-willed Jade Zewinski to chase Neo-Nazi assassins across Europe. They must unravel an arcane Freemason mystery, sparked by information from newly revealed KGB files. Inspired from the true story of mysterious Freemason files thought to hold a terrible secret, stolen by the SS in 1940, recovered by the Red Army in 1945 and returned half a century later.

Buy Shadow Ritual at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made through the above links.

January 25, 2015

Discover Indies Book Club

by Donna Huber

I mentioned on Thursday that I was starting a book club. Several people were quick to join in and I've worked out the details. Here are a few more details and I hope you will join us, too.

What: Discover Indies Book Club

We are a virtual book club that will meet monthly to discuss a book. Each month a member will choose the book for the next month and lead the discussion for that book. When it is a BookSurf (provider of signed paperbacks in the US) title, the discussion leader will receive the hostess rewards.

As the name implies we will be focused on reading indie published books - books that are self-published, small press, or from publishing co-ops.

Our first book is Chasing Invisible by Karen Pokras Toz.  Signed paperbacks are available from BookSurf and orders can be placed online, please use REP #0015 (I'll earn a commission) at check out. For those outside the US or prefer ebooks, it is 99 cents at Amazon. (I'll earn a commission for purchases made through the Amazon link. The link should direct you to the Amazon in your country.)

Who: Everyone

The group is open to everyone regardless of where you live. As most indie published books are offered world-wide, everyone should be able to participate. BookSurf only ships signed paperbacks to US addresses and, therefore, only US-based members can earn the hostess rewards.

When: The last week of the month

We will meet the last week of the month. To allow for different time zones and busy schedules we will allow a week for discussion. However, there won't actually be a cut off for any discussion. So we don't spoil a book for anyone in the group, I ask that discussion of the current read not begin until the first day of the meeting week, but discussion can last beyond the seven days.

First discussion will take place Sunday, February 22 through Saturday, February 28.

Where: Facebook Group

I've created a Facebook Group for us to use. It is a closed group so the discussion can't be seen by non-members. That way we can talk spoilers without worry of spoiling the book for our friends that haven't read it.

Are you ready to get reading? Here's a sample of Chasing Invisible:

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made through the above link. Donna is an independent BookSurf consultant.