26 Ways to Get Me to Read and Love a Book

Claire Handscombe


When you have a book to promote, I’m a great person to have on your side. My effusive enthusiasm makes me very useful to have around when you want your book talked about — especially now that I have a podcast and work in a bookshop.

And there are certain things that can help to get me reading and loving your book. Some of these things, I know, are beyond your control, and for that I apologise. Some of them have nothing to do with the book itself. And obviously, I’m not the only reader, podcaster, or bookseller out there. We all have different tastes and priorities. But I wanted to share how a book makes its way into my heart.

Things you write about

  • You write about DC.
  • You write about Hollywood.
  • You write about doomed love.
  • You write about long-ago lost love that has a chance of being found again.
  • You write about ballet.

Things the author can’t control (I’m sorry!)

  • I hear it talked about all over the place.
  • One of those places is All The Books!, the podcast by Book Riot.
  • It has a pretty cover (I know, I know).
  • It has a bright pink cover.
  • It’s a bargain.

Whether I find it half price at the Strand or online for $1.99, if it’s a bargain, it’s worth having.

  • I have never heard of it, and when I pick it up in a bookshop, I feel as if I’m uncovering a secret.

Interactions with the author

  • I tweet you and you respond in some way.

An author being kind and responsive to me makes a 3/5 (ie perfectly enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable) book feel like a 4/5 book (which I’m then much more likely to recommend) and a 4/5 book feel like a 5/5 book. If the book was at 5/5 and its author is generous and lovely, I will never shut up about this book. Ever.

  • I meet you at an author event.

I always tell myself I don’t need to buy the book, but after I hear the author speak, how could I not buy the book?

Past experience with the author

  • I loved your last book — though not in a 10/10 kind of way because then I’ll just be scared it won’t be as good and I’ll be sad.

An idiosyncratic Claire thing — we’ll call thing the West Wing test.

  • You are in any way associated with The West Wing.
  • You are a West Wing fan.
  • Someone who is a West Wing fan recommends your book.

Because West Wing fans are, of course, intelligent and discerning.

  • The West Wing Weekly podcast (RIP) recommends your book.


  • An author whose work I like tweets about your book.
  • An author whose Twitter personality I like tweets about your book.
  • A friend mentions your book more than once.
  • A friend whose opinion I trust because we have similar tastes or they are smart or funny or a romantic mentions it once.


  • The reviews praise the quality of the prose.
  • The reviews say it’s an easy read.

For sleepy plane rides and times when reading feels harder than usual, books whose pages are easy to turn are essential. And, as we know, it takes great skill to write a book that’s easy to read.


  • People say you are a lovely person.

This is the most irrational of all. I know that. Except, isn’t it a natural impulse to want nice people to do well?

And a slightly random one that doesn’t fit easily into any other category

  • I get it early as an ARC, and in particular my own print copy. The privilege of that makes me feel giddy and important and valued. And with great power, as we know, come great responsibility.

And as you’ve probably noticed from the posts above, warm and fluffy feelings matter a lot in my reading choices.

Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC

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