Why Readers STOP Reading Your Book

I want you to look at these two charts. They are basically WHY READERS STOP READING A BOOK.

Chart 1 says the biggest reasons are:

why readers stop reading a book A

25% stop reading because it’s DULL

16% stop because of bad writing (more on that in a sec)

16% DULL characters or characters who are unbelievable

9% stop because you fed them an inedible info dump


Let’s pause there. This means if you have engaging characters and start your story with something interesting – putting that interesting thing up front, like the opening paragraph – and you don’t write BAD, you will have avoided more than 66% or two-thirds of the reason people stop reading a book!

Gang, if you can easily avoid 2/3 of a problem, avoid it.

Bad writing is subjective, but let’s assume it means typos, poor grammar, and improper punctuation. Again, easily avoided.

So: avoid.

And do what instead?

Start with something super interesting.

  • A murderer spying on his next victim.
  • A woman twisting off her wedding ring before she sits down to lunch with a co-corker
  • A first kiss.
  • A person struggling to light matches over a can of gasoline.


See? Don’t we want to read on to see what happens next? Of course we do!

So do that. And make your characters engaging. Fun. Likable. Give them personalities you’d want to hang out with – because that’s what we’re asking readers to do, to hang out with these make believe people for a while.


On to chart 2.

Chart 2 is a different version of chart 1, but let’s see what it tells us.

why readers stop reading a book B

30% of readers worry that the book will start slow. That indicates a dull read to come.

15% fear a tragic ending. Okay, but we have to get to the ending first, so table that for now.

15% fear difficult vocabulary. Mist of you won’t give them that, so you’re clear there.

15% fear TOO MUCH DETAIL – as in, boring stuff that seems irrelevant at the time, slow pace, dull plot.

7% fear a big boring back story, which is really part of too much detail


Genre and cliffhanger ending means they THINK it’s one genre and it turns out to be something else; cliffhanger ending means the book suddenly stops but the story isn’t finished, so they have to buy another book. That’s not cool. That pisses people off. Don’t do that.

So again, we can avoid nearly 100% of the things readers are worried about – and will stop reading if they encounter them – if we start fast and keep it interesting.

And a tragic ending can make a story sensational. Titanic. Love Story. Gallipoli. Dr Zhivago. Romeo and Juliet. They ALL have tragic endings. Fans love as good tearjerker. They don’t like a nonsensical, everybody dies ending that happens because the writer got tired and the deadline was due.

So the lesson is: avoid what you can avoid.

Sure, but do what instead?

  1. Write so that something super interesting happens on the first page, in the opening paragraph if possible. James Patterson said make sure something interesting happens on every page. Keep the story fast paced. Make the characters engaging, human, flawed, loving, sympathetic, unique. It’s not that hard.

2. Write your story, then let it rest. When you reread it, anything you want to skim, highlight in yellow. Anything you DO skim, highlight in red. Everything you read thoroughly, highlight in green.

  • Yellow stuff, cut by 50%.
  • Red stuff cut by 90%.

As Stephen King said, cut it to the bone.

(Oh, and an outline will keep writers block away.)

All this does is make your story lean and mean, so if you have assigned the proper genre to it, readers can’t put it down. READERS LOVE A BOOK THEY CAN’T PUT DOWN.

Not avoiding these easily avoided items causes your book to get bad reviews and weak sales.

Your choice.

A Christmas thought in August – from an accused narcissist.

Last year my daughter got the flu and missed the week of school before Christmas break – which meant almost a month of not seeing her friends.

She was so sad.

I was on campus to drop something off and decided to pop into her classroom to ask a few of her friends to wish her merry Christmas and get well soon, which I’d record on my phone for her.

When one of her friends heard my idea, she yelled for everyone to come help. Nearly the whole class joined in, including the teacher, cheering and smiling, creating a video that made my kid’s day/ week / Christmas. She watched it a hundred times, smiling from ear to ear during each viewing.

Still brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, see if you can figure out where this one came from.

Guinea Pig Adventure

Ms. Wendy keeps two adorable Guinea pigs in her 3rd grade classroom, Ginger and Gwen. After watching third grade for a few semesters Gwen decides she and Ginger are ready for 4th grade. They sneak across the hall to Ms. Dina’s classroom and hide on the bookshelf to learn all about 4th grade. When they get hungry, they sneak food from the kids’ backpacks! But while the entire 3rd grade is frantically looking for their “lost” classroom pets, Gwen and Ginger are having the time of their lives. When one fourth grader unexpectedly goes home early, he has no idea hungry Gwen is dining in his backpack!


The third grade has to search every day to find the lost Guinea pigs…

The fourth grade is completely unaware that anybody has been spying on them – but they’re wondering where all their lunches are going every day…

And Gwen has to figure out how to get herself back to school so she can reunite with Ginger and Miss Wendy – and never run away again.

Mr. Alatorre has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

“I was intrigued on page 1; all the following pages mesmerized & compelled me to keep reading.”

Mr. Alatorre has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

His imagination astounds me, with each book different and original.

His thorough research is obvious in the myriad of details that build the story.

The characters are believable, the heroes very likable and the villains despicable.

“What would you do with a time machine?” College grad paleontologists dig up just such a machine and, one by one, they can’t resist taking a ride.

The results are nasty, nearly fatal.

Even so, temptation overcomes the danger.

The book also explores the very real, ferocious battles faced by paleontologists and archaeologists for ownership of their discoveries. Scientists, colleges, landowners, corporations and even the federal government get tangled up in espionage, with lots of lawyers thrown in. Nefarious elements try to flat-out steal artifacts.

The suspenseful plot twists around human nature, the supernatural ability to transcend time, a blooming romance, and the desperate lies and greed in the fast-moving ownership struggle. The team needs to evade all of dangerous people to stay alive.

Mr. Alatorre has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His imagination astounds me, with each book different and original. His thorough research is obvious in the myriad of details that build the story. The characters are believable, the heroes very likable and the villains despicable.

The ending of this book is bittersweet yet satisfying.

I loved every well-crafted word!

– Amazon review by Linda McKay of The Navigators

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators today!

Navs new final 11252018


A freak landslide at a remote mine site uncovers a strange machine to a group of paleontology grad students. Wary of corrupt school officials, team leader Barry takes the machine home to study it in secret, reaching only one realistic – and unbelievable – conclusion: It was designed to bridge the time-space continuum. It’s a time machine.Testing delivers disastrous results, sending one team member to the hospital and nearly killing another. When word leaks about the discovery, the ultimate power struggle ensues: the university wants it for funding, the power company wants its energy regenerating abilities kept under wraps, and a rival group wants to steal it for themselves. No one cares if Barry’s team comes out alive.Fleeing for their lives, the students must fight the school, the police, and each other if they want to learn the truth about what they’ve discovered – a truth with more severe consequences than any of them can predict.



“Amazing. Couldn’t put it down”- Happy Meerkat Reviews


“I never read sci-fi, time travel type books so the fact that I liked The Navigators is a true testament to how well it was written. The Navigators was riveting indeed! It was like reading a modern-day Ray Bradbury novel but funnier and wittier with snappier dialogue – an excellent job of combining fun, snappy dialogue with deeper, more meaningful conversations. This book was a fun, exciting, insightful and touching read.” – Lynn Cooper, author of Cupcake Cutie


“Dan Alatorre will keep you glued to your seat” – Lucy Brazier, author of Secret Diary of Portergirl


“I loved it! Really good story line and it kept the tension throughout. I couldn’t wait to see the outcome and was not disappointed.” – Suzanne Bowditch, author of Elen, A Celtic Trilogy


“It’s a beautiful story!! Beautiful! There is something in here, something from the spirit of Isaak Asimov and all those days when I started reading science fiction. The writing is so clean, and you kept the magic rolling all the way.” – Art Jeffries, author of The Collector


“This story had me hooked from the start, a well thought out complex storyline that has everything. Mystery, intrigue, betrayal and romance. In addition, enough danger and excitement to sink several ships!” – Anita Dawes, author of Scarlett Ribbons

Read The Navigators NOW



img_2351-22Yep, you read that right.

Do No Harm, a medical thriller box set, debuted at #55 on the USA Today bestseller list this week.

My contribution was The Gamma Sequence, an 80,000 word novel I wrote in 36 days. (If you want to learn how I WROTE an 80k book in 36 days, click HERE.)

Now that I have achieved USA Today Bestselling Author status, how do I feel about it? And how much work was involved?

I feel very proud.

And it was a lot of work.

USA Today

Get Do No Harm HERE.

1. First of all, writing a book at all is hard.

  • 80% of American adults would like to write a book. Of that number, the vast majority never start writing one.
  • Of those who start writing a book, most never complete it.
  • Of those who complete their book, a huge percentage never do anything with it. It never gets published, never gets queried, never gets to see the light of day.
  • Of that ever-shrinking percentage that achieve all those things, something like 95% of them will never make more than a few thousand dollars from books in their lifetime.

usa-today-bsSo you can see that writing a book it is difficult at all, much less doing a really good one in a really limited period of time. I documented that in an earlier post HERE, but in a nutshell, I got up really early and I work really late – but before I started, I laid out an outline and I bounced ideas off some trusted friends who I knew would steer me in the right direction. I knew when I was done writing, I’d get help from beta readers and critique partners, editors… So if you don’t have the support of that kind of team, it probably won’t happen. (Hold that thought for later.)

So just completing a book is obviously an accomplishment, but as an author I know lots of people who complete books. That’s not that big of a deal to us.

2. Making a USA Today bestseller list requires a lot of MARKETING.

The dreaded M word.

* Shudder *

(Most authors suck at marketing, including most of the ones that I’m friends with.)

A while back I got invited to be in a group of New York Times best-selling authors and USA today bestselling authors who were going to put together a box set. That box set group had some dysfunction, and even though we sold quite a few copies of our book, it didn’t really have the success we all dreamed it would.

So I was a bit hesitant to try again.

After all, the stuff doesn’t happen for FREE.

Every contributing author has to pony up a big chunk of money because we’re going to be buying lots of ads,

but the idea is if you have 17 people in the same boat all rowing in the same direction, you are much more likely to get where you want to go. Not only that, but what one person lacks as far as skills, another person might have. This was crucial. We would have a set manager, but each of us was going to have to row our own oar as well as believe in the set leadership AND in each other – but also be ready to go above and beyond when we saw we had a strength that someone else didn’t have, and ask them if they might have a strength I didn’t have… When you multiply that by 17 people, you’re gonna have a lot of strengths.

USA Today

But let’s face it. I became a USA Today bestselling author as part of a box set with 16 other people.

How much of the achievement is mine?

I was faced with a very similar question when I was a child.

I was always a swimmer. From the time I was 4 or 5, all the way through high school, I was on the swim team. In summer I swam for the country club team, and in winter I swam for the YMCA team. Swimming was as natural to me as walking. I wasn’t the best swimmer – my sister was; she was bound for the Olympics – but not me. I was a natural swimmer and I was very good at it, but I wasn’t great at it.

But at my YMCA – Hamilton West YMCA in Hamilton, Ohio – stands a childhood record for a relay I was on that got first place. That record stood for decades. I was very proud that I contributed to a relay that, more than 20 years later, was still standing. It may still be standing; there’s no way to know – they remodeled and took the record boards down. No one knows where the boards are now, but 20+ years later, who cares?

When the Olympic track and field team takes the field, they have a relay race.

If one member of the relay team trips and falls, that relay team is not going to win the gold level.

Each member must give their very best effort or they are not going to win that day.

Four years later, another team will be awarded a gold medal for the same event. That doesn’t mean four years earlier the winning team didn’t win.

Of the four people on my swim team’s medley relay that won our medal, I was not the best swimmer. Two guys on that relay team could have done any part of the relay and probably gotten a better time than what I was able to do. But the simple fact is, that relay required four different swimmers, and even if they were 10 times better than me, there was only one of each of them. They had to do their part, but they couldn’t do all four parts. Without me, they don’t get that record.

Was I the best one on the team? I wasn’t even the best swimmer on that relay. But we had to have four, and I did my job. We won that day, and decades later no one else had topped the group we put on the starting blocks that day.

And that’s the case here. Who can say if I didn’t contribute my book and my marketing and my efforts and my pushing other people – who can say how well the box set would have done? After all, my prior box set did not achieve the results this one achieved.

When the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, every member of the team gets a Super Bowl ring because every member of the team contributed to the win. The backup kicker who never saw the field was there in case the main kicker couldn’t do his job but also to push the main kicker to be the best he could be – because if he slipped up an inch he would be replaced. The mindset of TEAM.

If you proscribe to that mindset, you might win a few Super Bowls.

I never felt comfortable for one minute during the Do No Harm box set that I could do anything less than 100% for fear that I would bring the entire relay down just like an Olympian who tripped during the track and field relay or a member of my record-setting swim team relay group. Everybody had to give their best.

usa-today-bsToday and always I will be proud of making the USA Today bestseller list.

And my next goal will be to win the title in a solo effort.

But… will I really do it solo?

A lot of people along the way would help me formulate my outline, assist me in streamlining my writing, beta read to catch errors, edit for pace… reviewers will help me gain recognition and marketers will advertise for me. I don’t pretend to do any of those things all by myself. I’ve lost valuable teammates, too. It hurts when they go, but I have to mourn the loss and then move on because I have a goal.

I can’t quit because of difficult circumstances.

There are always difficult circumstances.

I rally with whoever’s left and that’s my team now – and we move forward.

It’s a team effort.

Editors. Beta readers. Marketers. Isn’t that part of my team? So I’ve never really published a book all by myself. I’ve always had someone else on my team helping.

Today, my team won a medal.

img_2351-22My detractors will say (and have said) it doesn’t count. For them, it doesn’t – but are they helping me achieve it solo, or are they talking down a risk and effort I was willing to take that they weren’t? Are they helping me achieve my future goals or are they hindering me from achieving my future goals? No one can know for sure, but the goals will be pursued anyway. I wish them well as I move forward – sincerely, I do – but I also notice that

most of the people who put down this achievement have not obtained this achievement themselves, and for those who have obtained a USA Today bestseller status solo – are you willing to help teach me how to do it? I did what I could. If you are willing to help me, I am willing to learn from you.

Meanwhile, remember: the guy who runs the hundred yard dash and wins a “solo” gold-medal – he still had a coach. That’s part of his team. You soloists have editors and marketers and critique partners telling you what to fix. Pretend it’s a solo effort because one name appears on the cover of the book. We all know it isn’t.

This wasn’t a solo gold-medal.

This was a relay race medal.

But we won.

Which means as a member of the relay team, I won.

And if you look to trash talk the accomplishment, as some will and some have, then I say this: this Olympics allows solo efforts AND team efforts on the field at the same time.

Today, my team won a medal.

I’m proud of them, and I’m proud of me.

Tonight, I celebrate what we have accomplished.

Tomorrow, I set my sights on the next higher goal.


Get this amazing novel and a bunch of other ones in the Do No Harm box set.

And if you already purchased it, please go leave a review!



Why Your Book Isn’t Selling

We have addressed hundreds of writing related topics here on the blog; use the search button to find the ones you need.


  1. Bad cover
  2. Bad blurb

Got it?

Those two things are the biggest reasons people pass on buying your book.

They can’t read it if they don’t click on it, and the cover and blurb are the only things between them and your story at this point, right?

Let’s get that fixed now, shall we?

Finding a good cover

You can spend a lot of money for a good cover but you don’t have to, and first you need to see what fans of that type of story want in a cover – because it doesn’t matter if you like it, it only matters that people who read that genre find the cover appropriate.

Author ego, step aside.


So here’s what you do.

Look at the top selling books in the genre your story fits best into, then look to emulate what those covers have in common, whether you hire it out or buy pre-made.

Usually, unless you are an amazing artist, you should not do your own covers. They look homemade about 99% of the time and you are NOT the 1% who can do them and look good, so don’t. It’s a different skill set. Focus on writing if you’re an author. You can have a pro looking cover for about $69 so save yourself the headache of your book not selling.

Get a few mock ups together, and ask as many fans as you can which they like. After about a dozen impartial votes, you will have a clear winner and that won’t change if you get 100 more votes or 1000 more votes. Like this:


Post that on your blog, you personal Facebook page, wherever. Count the IMPARTIAL votes. Your sister doesn’t count here.

Let the fans choose. They are never wrong.

Save yourself the headache of wasting money on ads that don’t get you sales when your cover is the reason the book isn’t selling.

But that’s only part of the equation.



That is harder than it sounds, my friends.

And because yours sucks, it’s costing you.

See, your main selling source, Amazon, is largely an impulse buy. That’s important to know, not if you’re Stephen King with a huge following, or Hugh Howey, but if you’re small or independent, you need the Ammy advantages to work to your favor.


1. You must write a good story

Actually, you can write crap but then I don’t want to talk to you and you need to be a super marketer.  And you need to be a super marketer anyway. But there are a LOT of guys writing crap and making money on Ammy, so if we write good stuff we should be able to do even better. Otherwise the terrorists win. And “good story” includes no typos and all that jazz. We have lots of posts on this blog about how to write good stories. Read them and use the advice therein.

2. You must have a good cover, as noted above.

Well, only if you wanna sell stuff. A brightly colored cover with contrasting colors will catch the eye and draw attention to it. So will other things, like big boobs or puppies, but those images may not fit well with the story inside the cover, so govern yourself accordingly. And again, we’re writing good stories so we might want the cover to represent that – depending on the genre. (Romance covers tend to have pretty faces on them; mysteries tend to not show faces. Checking out the top sellers will clue you in to that.) But if your cover doesn’t catch the reader’s eye, it’s not gonna sell well. Think impulse buy. The cover has to make people want to read the blurb.

3. The blurb has to make people want to read the story.

The blurb is a few lines about your story that bait the hook and make people want more, so they click BUY. Think IMPULSE BUY. And if you’re a good storyteller, you might take 80,000 words to tell your story. That in no way means you are good at condensing it down to 100 – 250 words of ad copy – and make no mistake, that is what your blurb is. It’s a tiny ad that, along with your professional looking cover, make people want to click BUY. If it doesn’t do that, it’s a loser – and I’ve had my fair share of loser blurbs! I still do! For several reasons. They are hard to do well, and I didn’t really know that until recently, but mainly because I have a hard time writing blurbs for my own stuff. Probably, so do you.

Now, you’d say as a writer you should master your blurb. In fact, I’ve seen several well known writers who may or may not write their own blurbs, say just that. It’s writing! You’re a wordsmith! Just do it.

It’s not that easy. It is a different kind of writing, just like a painter is an artist but we don’t expect him to be a master sculptor or pottery thrower. It is a different skill set AND most of us are TOO CLOSE to our work to be objective enough to write a good blurb. (More on blurb writing HERE and HERE.)

4. The other rules are things like pricing and whatnot.

That’s totally your call, but I can offer a few guidelines. When you are known as well as Stephen King, you can charge Stephen King prices. Don’t work for free if you don’t have to – and you don’t have to. Run sales on occasion but otherwise, we could write 10 posts on pricing and still not resolve the question. Most authors who follow my rules should be able to sell their stuff at above $2.99 or more and not have issues.

These steps aren’t the ONLY way to do things, but they’re a lot better than having NO way to do them – and no clue how to start. Have a better way? Roll with it!



Dan Alatorre has had a string of bestsellers and is read in over 112 countries around the world.

To get free books and updates on his newest novels, join his Readers Club HERE.