Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Appeal Factors

Appeal Factors are those aspects of a book that engage the reader, which make it a "good read". If you understand appeal factors it is more likely that you will be able to guide a reader on to something else which is likely to be enjoyed. This list is by no means exhaustive - and remember, many of these apply both to fiction and non-fiction.

  • ability to identify with characters (empathy)
  • believable
  • known or continuing characters (from previous books)
  • likeable characters
  • strong characterisation


  • page turner
  • compelling - couldn't put it down
  • fast-moving
  • leisurely or gentle pace
  • lots of action
  • 'rip-roaring'
  • simple story, easy to read

Background detail, mood, setting and tone

  • authentic
  • believable
  • familiarity (location, culture etc.)
  • funny/quirky
  • gritty (realism)
  • insightful (into another tome, culture etc)
  • timeframe : contemporary, historical, futuristic
  • well researched


  • autobiographical
  • plot- multi-layered, intricate, complicated, unpredictable
  • familiarity with the subject
  • entertaining, escapist, fun
  • human interest, personal relationships
  • romantic
  • topical or contemporary
  • satisfying conclusion
  • suspenseful
  • unconventional, unusual

Writing Style

  • appealing
  • 'beautifully crafted'
  • humorous/witty/satirical
  • plenty of descriptive detail
  • 'well-written'
  • factual or narrative


  • action
  • biographical
  • crime/true crime
  • fantasy
  • historical fiction
  • horror
  • mystery and suspense
  • romance
  • science fiction
  • supernatural
  • thriller: legal, political etc

Why the reader chose the book

  • award winner
  • best seller
  • catchy blurb
  • familiarity ( with genre, series, author)
  • liked the cover
  • movie tie-in
  • personal interest
  • recommended or reviewed

What the reader felt about the book

  • emotionally involved
  • happy/sad
  • challenged
  • reassured
  • learnt something new
  • satisfied

A patron's appeal factors can change: they may enjoy different types of book at different times. Remember to ask if they are in the mood for something similar or something completely different.