Judging a Book by its Author

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Photo Credit: Larkable

We’ve all heard the stupid saying about judging books by their covers. Easily one of the more annoying things that you hear about books, but have you thought about judging books by their authors? I think it’s a real thing worth discussing just a little further.

I’m not going into judging books by their covers because I’ve actually already written about that practice before and we all know that it absolutely does happen. Let me explain to you what I mean when I say judging a book by its author. How many of you read multiple series? If we’re being honest with ourselves it takes all of two seconds to realize that publishing is going in much the same direction as movies have in recent years. It’s all about sequels. Plenty of authors are still writing great stand alone novels, but it seems that just about every author and their mom is writing a series, which is perfectly fine with me since I love a number of characters who I don’t want to stop reading anytime soon. So a lot of series are being written So what, right? Well, not exactly. You see, this may have given rise to judging books by their authors. How, you ask? Let’s say you just finished the first book in a series. You liked the book and you immediately log into your Amazon account to purchase the next book in the series without looking at what the book is about or the reviews or anything at all because you just know you have to have it.

This is where judging books by their authors comes into play. We all judge books, but now that you know you like the series and the characters and the author’s style of writing you’re almost certainly going to compare the book to the first in the series that you just read. I think it’s much easier for us to compare books within a series than it is to compare books completely independent of one another.

So that’s judging books by their authors, when you compare a book to other books you’ve previously read by that particular author instead of comparing it to everything you’ve read. I can’t be the only one who does this. I can easily tell you my favorite THG book or my top two or three Harry Bosch novels, but it becomes much more difficult to go down a list of my all-time favorite books. So tell me, do you judge books by their authors just as I do?

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22 thoughts on “Judging a Book by its Author

  1. You’re not alone. I most definitely judge a book by it’s author. If I’ve previously read something by an author I have a specific expectation for their next book. This can be a good thing if the author consistently delivers what I expect and enjoy. This can suck for the author if they are trying out a whole new style or subject, and it’s not well rec’d due to reader’s expectations. I guess that’s why some authors choose to use different pen names for different genres. It allows them to build a fan base for each style and not run the risk of disappointing readers or having them not give a new style a fair chance.

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    • You make some great points about authors writing under pen names when moving into other genres. Look at JK Rowling. Exactly what you’re talking about.

      And yes, I think once we have a set expectation for an author we fully expect it to be met or exceeded every book thereafter. Which is sometimes unfair, but we’re all critics, right?

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  2. Pretty much! “I am like, Oh my gosh! So and so wrote this??It must be good!” haha..

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  3. I’m willing to try a new book, even if it’s not my usual cuppa, if it’s by an author I respect. Equally, if I see an intriguing book by an author I DON’T respect, I probably wouldn’t buy it. Maybe that’s close-minded of me, and I’d never say never, but my reading list is already full of my favorite or unread authors.

    Within a single series, hmm. It’s obvious that J.K. Rowling became a stronger writer with every Harry Potter book….but I thought the overall momentum declined after Goblet of Fire. It became too reliant on tropes and deus ex machina. I finished it out of a sense of investment. Maybe I did hold JKR to a higher standard and she dissapointed me. But in hindsight, HP is still one of the best series I’ve ever read and most modern fiction pales in comparison to it. So I think you’re on to something here – comparing JKR to other authors is no contest. While comparing JKR to herself, one can be unfairly harsh.

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    • I’m not sure what you mean by authors you do or don’t respect. I’ve vowed to never read EL James or Stephenie Meyer, but that has nothing to do with respecting them. They have done what so few authors today can, make a ton of money from writing books. Who cares about the actual writing? People read their work and obviously watch the movie adaptations. So yeah.

      I agree with your last two points about JK Rowling.

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  4. I totally judge books by their author, but only when it comes to my favorite ones. Nicholas Sparks is my ALL time favorite author and I never look at what his new book is about before purchasing it. I just purchase it and immediately start reading it. That’s the only author I really to that for, otherwise I read the back covers before I decide if I will read it or not.

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    • Hmm. I actually haven’t read any Nicholas Sparks. Whoops. But I know every other person has. I actually exactly what you said for like ten authors. But I’ve never been grossly disappointed by any of my favorites.

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  5. Of course I do. Anyone who says they don’t is lying. They just can’t face the idea that we all, even subconsciously, judge a book by its author.

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  6. Yes, I do judge books by the authors, fair or unfair as it may be. If I respect the author I am going to give any of their books a spin. But I’m always on the lookout for someone who is new to me. That does not mean a bestseller. What is on the bestseller list is often a turnoff for me.

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  7. Yes I do. So much so that some of my favourite authors have now taken a restraining order out on me. Some of the more famous ones have even booby trapped their books everywhere, every time I touch them, an alarm sounds and I’m nabbed by this slightly off looking secret society composed of members named after the seven dwarfs from snow white.

    Then again, this may have been a dream. Hmmm

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  8. When I am shopping for books, I tend to buy books of authors that I have previously read and loved or heard much about their works..But ideally it is not the way to go..take J K Rowling’s example, her casual vacancy was way different than Harry Potter, although an excellent work, those who picked it up because they enjoyed Harry Potter, must have been terribly disappointed.

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    • Hmm. I’m not sure if I agree with you or not. Only because I buy the hooks written by authors I like, but usually it’s within the same series. For instance, I’d hesitate to buy JK Rowling’s other work after Potter.

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  9. Yes I do, very much so. Just like I judge a film by its director, or an album by its band. But in all cases, if the first chapter/scene/song is tosh, I may well change my opinion.

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  10. Pingback: Harry Potter Taylor Swift Mashup? | Write me a book, John!

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