There aren’t very many things that will make me turn my nose up at a book — at least, not a lot of serious patterns. There are a few things, however, that will make me run screaming.
Every now and then I will cave and read something that is seriously hyped. And sometimes I’m very pleasantly surprised (Illuminae, for example). Other times, I’m seriously disappointed (Caraval, for example). And then I’m reminded why I avoid over-hype in the first place.
Typically, the only times I cave to overhype is when it’s an author I’m familiar with or when the second and third books are also seriously hyped.
If it sounds suspiciously familiar
I know, I know. I get it. There are only so many unique plots in the world. But if the description CLEARLY sounds like something I’ve read before, I will probably say no thanks. I like variety, people. Give me some surprises!
Ok, so obviously you can’t always tell this from the descriptions or whatnot. But if I catch a whiff of a mary sue-like character from a review (or, even worse, the blurb itself), I will probably give up all interest in the book. They get on my nerves.
Typos/grammar problems in the blurb
Authors/publishers, PLEASE proof-read your blurbs! I don’t always read them, but if you’re a debut author, you can bet that I’m going to do a thorough read of your blurb. Don’t have typos there.
Second person (“you do ___”)
This isn’t really a big thing in the publishing world, but it used to be pretty popular on self-posting websites. It’s weird, guys. Don’t do it.
I like reading big books — I have actually never really read a big book that I DIDN’T like. But they scare me. So I put them off.
Shortness / Spin-offs/prequels (unless I hear good things)
Really, really short books scare me off too. I read a lot of fantasy — typically if a book is <200 words in this genre, there’s not a lot of meat to it, and I just find it boring. So I avoid them.
Similarly, spin-offs and prequels make me nervous — there’s so often not a lot there. Yes, there are exceptions, and if I hear awesome things, I will read them. But otherwise, they usually don’t even make my radar.
Why? Whhhyyyyy???? Collections of short stories that don’t actually relate to each other by completely different authors. These are things that I’ve never really understood. I mean, I get why they’re there — they’re (I assume) a decent way to find new authors similar to the one or two in the anthology that you already like. But … well, I’ve just never been all that interested in them.
Zombies are probably the only creature that shows up in the fantasy genre that I avoid. They can be done REALLY well, but I feel like the idea has blown out of proportion and a lot has become one size fits all. I TOTALLY get that there are some awesome books with zombies in them, but … well, there are awesome books without them too!
Focus on romance/sex (unless it’s a romance book)
If it’s a romance book, that totally makes sense, and I’ll occasionally dabble. But if it’s not solidly and clearly in the romance genre, and it sounds like the focus is going to be on the romance, I will give the book a big, fat, no. I don’t mind romance; I just don’t want it to be the focus unless that’s what I’m intentionally looking for.