If you regularly read new writers, where do you find them? What persuades you trust them with your time and money? Do you choose using reviews, or recommendations, or a try before you buy sample? Do you buy based on marketing communications? Amazon mailshots? Bookbub promotions? Goodreads suggestions? Does it make a difference if the book is free or discounted?
In her post last Thursday, Kay said: “I was looking to read something light and entertaining the other day, and all the descriptions and back cover copy seemed riddled with clichés…I just couldn’t force myself to click the button.”
Right there with you, Kay. One of my aims for 2016 is to read more new authors, ideally at least one per week. They don’t have to be debut authors, just ones I haven’t read before, but I’d like to include a good selection of writers near the beginning of their publishing career. I’m also trying to be open to new recommendation channels. I’d love to find a reading group that suits my tastes – I really miss Jenny Crusie’s Cherry Forums (used to get all my best new reads there). For now I’ve been reading my spamazon thoroughly and investigating the titles that catch my attention instead of giving the emails a hasty once-over/delete, checking out contributors to websites I enjoy (like The Passive Voice), and taking a slower stroll through the daily offerings at Bookbub.
So far I haven’t done particularly well, because I’ve gone book blurb blind. Read one after another, all those story snapshots sound formulaic. He’s This. She’s That. They’re pitted against one another/forced to work together / pretend to be a couple because Reasons. Will they overcome This and finally discover That? (Agreeing with Kay, my guess is that they will). I’m trying to fish in a bigger pool, and the blurbs aren’t helping, which is a pity. It’s hard to reduce a story to a handful of sentences and make it stand out. Tougher still to capture the voice and style of a book or author.
So far my process has been:
- eliminate sub-genres I don’t care for – no inspirational romance, no erotica, no young adult or college romances, and no seriously scary suspense;
- choose characters and especially heroines who sound powerful and active with strong goals and lots of agency (spies, thieves, mercenaries, cops, coroners, firefighters, business owners);
- choose storylines with plenty of conflict, enough to support a whole book;
- pick/avoid based on my trope preferences – no to Big Mis or Secret Baby, yes to forced to work together, on opposite sides of a deal, friends to lovers, second chances;
- read reviews and/or comments on Amazon (not star ratings) to see if I can get a feel for the kind of writing involved.
- Check out the author’s website to see what other books they have written and see whether their pattern appeals to me;
- Read a sample;
- Buy 🙂 . Or not 😦 .
It’s been interesting, in a time-consuming way. We’re almost three weeks into 2016, and I’ve managed half a dozen ‘new’ authors. So far I haven’t had any disasters, but I haven’t had any roaring successes either. Everything I’ve picked has been well-written and sound from a craft perspective, but nothing has dug its hooks into me. I don’t want to blog about any of them, because I’m not excited enough to want to share them or spend more time discussing them.
I’d love to find a shiny new keeper. It’s been too long since I last got the love-at-first-sight, bowled-over feeling that hits me when I start a book by a new author and within a few pages I’m giddy with joy. Failing that, I wish I could find a smarter way to make my selections / expand my reading horizons.
I’d be fascinated to know where you find new authors, and if you have any tips and tricks for tracking down the books that suit your reading preferences, I’d love to hear them. And if you have any great new author recommendations, I’d be very glad of those, too.
I’m hoping for some thrilling new (to me) discoveries this year. If I’m successful, I promise you’ll be the first to hear all about it!