TBR Conundrum

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Blog post
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


So it turns out that there’s an issue for indies that few people talk about. Here it is: there’s a difference between folks buying your book and actually reading it.
Obviously the fact that people buy your novel is a great compliment and that’s not something to be sniffed at. But we all have such busy lives and such long TBR lists that it’s impossible to imagine ever reaching the end of them, which means there’s a possibility that those readers will never read your book!
I too have a TBR list that makes my eyes water. When I look through my TBR list I get excited by all of the tales there ready, just waiting to be absorbed into my being. I know that I’ll love some of them and loathe others. I know some will inspire me in my own writing and others will inspire me on how not to write. But it’s thrilling to know that all of those stories and characters are there for me, waiting until I am ready… well the paperbacks anyway. I suppose Amazon can do what it likes with the Kindle reads :p
But how to choose, how to choose… deciding on what to read comes down to a number of factors for me. Though I’ve learned my factors often aren’t the same as others. I choose to read books that are unrelated (entirely) to anything I might be working on with my own writing at that moment. Sometimes that means a different genre or time period, other times it’s just a different location or setup. The worst thing about the TBR decision is the amount of time it takes to pick something to read. Think of all the words we could be experiencing in those minutes it takes us to make a decision.
Often when I’m trawling my TBR list I’ll go back to product pages to re-read descriptions or reviews, which can then lead me to other work by that author (or other authors) and often I’ll find myself increasing the length of my TBR list! Ahh!
I don’t take part in reading challenges because I face so many time challenges with my writing that I wouldn’t want to embroil myself in more. But I do admire those that do. It must be electrifying to have that goal and to be working towards completing a reading mission.
But, back to the original point… Indies spend an awful lot of time and energy writing books, we know this. They spend an awful lot of time and energy promoting books, we know this, too. But it turns out that there’s another hurdle we are completely powerless to overcome.
So how do we put the pieces together? How do we connect the reader to the novel? The answer is, we don’t. There’s such a thing as free will and we all have to accept that there comes a point where fate decides. You can’t force someone to do something which they do not want to do. You can try to make your work as interesting and enticing as you can and then after that, the Gods decide… or rather the reader does – haven’t I previously mentioned that you’re all-powerful? :p
A writer can do only one thing. Keep writing. Your book may languish for years in the e-reader of a potential five star reviewer, but there’s no way to know who that is. Push someone too hard and you’re more likely to find yourself at the one star end. Yes, it’s frustrating, and yes, it’s disheartening to know that your work is lying there unabsorbed. But when there are so many writing and publishing factors that you can influence this is not one to get stuck on.
Still, I make an appeal to all readers. Set a number, three or four, maybe ten or twelve, but pick a number of books to read on your TBR and vow to read that many at the start of each month before you buy any new books. Just think, your next favourite novel could have been on that TBR list all along waiting for you, it’s time to venture forth and discover it!

Good luck on your adventures,


  1. Tanya Rae says:

    BTW just shared this post on my blog page. Hopefully we can get the word out how important reviews are. 🙂

  2. aprilpini says:

    I know I buy a lot of books based on recommendations, but then sometimes they’ll sit on my TBR list until I start to see people’s reviews of it. So I guess we’re all in the same boat. We want these books but then we want to see that other people have read them first and liked them. That’s why I like to read your books as soon as I get them so that other readers (like me) will see the reviews and pick them up.

  3. Tanya Rae says:

    I know that I have a long list of TBR on my Kindle! Now that I have a blog my list just keeps getting longer and harder to read the books on my kindle because I have so many books to review. Doesn’t it still help out the author by buying the book. I know reviews help sell the book but, I hope that Social Media also helps sell the book. Twitter, FB, Google + etc. There are a lot of referrals out there in Social Media and I have to say that is why my TBR keeps growing. I also end up reading those books on my Kindle when another person says how good the book is and it bumps that book to the top for me. I will try and read more of what is on my Kindle too. Great article and thought! And, I love your books so they are at the top of my list when a new one comes out. 😀

    • scarlettfinn says:

      Oh yes, of course it helps the author out when someone purchases the book, we are eternally grateful! :p
      But the greatest compliment for an author is the word of mouth recommendation. But readers can’t recommend a book that they haven’t read! That’s why getting your book off the TBR list and in front of the reader is so crucial. The more people who read your book then the more who will recommend it… hopefully! 😀

      • Tanya Rae says:

        Well that are some books that I pick up faster than others and I agree with April that sometimes that takes seeing others recommending the book for me to finally pick it up. However, Scarlett your book isn’t one that I now wait for recommendations…. I read yours pretty early on after I found you! 😀 And, I will do the same for your next book. I do sometimes have commitments that I have to finish before I can pick up a book and read. But, there are certain Authors I will read as soon as I can. Yours being one of those Authors. ❤

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