WARNING: The author doesn’t want you to read her book

Readers need not apply

Not every reader, that is.

Unless your novel is a public service announcement, then it is probably true that NOT everyone should read it.


You don’t write for everybody. Do you?

There are many reasons that some people shouldn’t read my debut novel: Josephine – Red Dirt & Whiskey. And, I try to be open and honest about those reasons:

1) Lots of cussing

2) Lots of sex

3) Lots of drinking

4) References suicide

5) Deals with “heavy” issues such as infidelity and hypocrisy

I tell readers that it is most certainly for a mature audience only.

Some other authors also say that if you like certain books/writers, then you will probably like their writing. This gives potential readers something to gauge their interest with.

A great example

Lorna Suzuki, author of the Imago Fantasy series, tells her Twitter followers “Please don’t buy my novels until you read free sample chapters 1st! It’s not the traditional epic fantasy, so it mite not b your cup of tea.”

How’s that for honest?

All readers who use Amazon and Smashwords can access samples of the book before downloading. And, of course, we know how important the back cover and first few pages of a book are for the readers to make up their minds.


These are great things, but why…


I want my readers to trust me. I want potential readers to trust me. I even want people who are not my readers to trust me (they could still be connected with me through social media: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and through this blog). And, if I’m honest and upfront in acknowledging that my books and my writing style may be offensive to some readers, then I don’t feel like I’ve tricked anyone into buying a book.




About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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14 Responses to WARNING: The author doesn’t want you to read her book

  1. mikereverb says:

    Ah, bravo.

    Honest or not, these kinds of warnings are almost always too irresistible to ignore. It’s a great way to hook someone to the idea of your work, maybe even a couple of people who wouldn’t normally like the list you gave. 😉

    The same applies to Suzuki’s appeal to read chapters of her book first. It’s a great psychological trigger; if I’m on the fence about buying her book, reading the chapters will increase the likelihood that I buy it (unless it’s actually not my cup of tea. 😉 )

    Thanks for sharing a really good post.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike. I think the sample chapters and excerpts are such good ideas for letting readers see what they are getting. I have heard, unfortunately, that for some books the first few chapters are GREAT, but then the rest of the novel does not match up. That’s a strange issue.

  2. Joe Pineda says:

    It’s tough writing something like this and not coming off as “oooh, I’m edgy!”, but you did it! Honesty and trust definitely come a long way when you choose readers and, of course, when they choose you.

    It happened to me one time when I was eating out that a father came up to me with his girl. She was about eleven or ten years old tops. They had come to my table because they heard I was a writer, they both loved to read and they wanted to meet me. Cool! So the obvious questions came:

    Where are your books sold?
    What are they about?

    The first was easy to answer, but for the second I couldn’t mince words. I told them outright that my subject matter was a little dark, and that a couple of scenes were probably too intense for anyone under high school age. They were thrown off, of course, but I think they took it well. I wouldn’t have been happy with myself if I hadn’t told them that just to make a cheap sales pitch.

    • Joe,
      Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading!
      I laughed when I saw your comment about coming off “edgy”. That’s certainly not a term I associate with myself! 🙂
      In your scenario, I would imagine they appreciated your honesty.

  3. kara says:

    Very true, Melinda. And well said.

  4. DM Yates says:

    Excellent post and so true. New authors especially want to believe that everybody will love their works. And, Melinda, you are an honest person, and I loved reading ‘Josephine.’

    • Donna,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed Josephine. I’m not knocking mainstream fiction! That’s just not where my writing falls. I think you are right that there are many people just starting out who want to believe that their work will appeal to everyone.

  5. Although some writers might just say that to hook an inquisitive buyer, it’s a good idea. I don’t think I could offend anyone with my work. Does that just make me bland and boring?

  6. Great post.

    1. No book is for everyone. If it is, unless it’s a religious text, chances are your book is then oversaturated with generic cliches and mediocrity.

    2. The love/hate paradigm shows how strong your writing is. While the ratio doesn’t have to be 1:1 or 2:1 …. there must be an equally strong audience that hates your work as there is an audience that loves your work.

    Why do I say this? Because more than likely when someone hates what you’re saying or doing, it strongly resonates against their values, beliefs and what they support or have interest in …. but it clearly attracts people whose opposing values, beliefs and interests will be highly engaged with the material – and those are the ones you’re more than likely interested in gaining relationships with anyway.

    • Lauryn,
      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      I agree when you are authentic in your writing/art, it attracts your target audience and it alienates the rest. The key is to identify the target audience and take their feedback to heart – discard the rest, but that is often hard to do.

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