I mostly buy books from Amazon, but I was looking at the SF and fantasy section today in the local Borders.
I confess I find some new SF and fantasy by its packaging. Is the title interesting? The spine design catchy? I’ll pull it out and read the back blurb.
Here’s where you lose me. If the back blurb on a fantasy title has any place, people or person named with an apostrophe in it, I’m almost certainly gone. Ap’zolonului? Gone. Ba’amaruteenza? Gone. Gth’mordan? Gone.
I might buy the book if that stuff isn’t screaming at me from the packaging, and heck, I might even like it.
Other things that are likely to drive me off:
1) “Book One in the Dark Swords of Black Terror Trilogy”.
2) Mostly, if the word “vampire” appears anywhere in the cover, title or blurb. It stops being “mostly” if “vampire” appears in the same blurb with “elf”.
3) Titles or blurbs that contain the name of a fantasy kingdom that sounds more like a prescription medicine for depression or impotence.
4) Anything that contains three of the following four elements in the blurb: plucky but innocent young heroine, farmboy with a destiny, dark lord of evil, wise ancient wizard. “Handsome voodoo priest” is a bonus demerit.
5) The word, “Drizzt”.