Jilly: Evaluating Also-Boughts

What’s your most tried-and-tested method of finding new authors to read? Do you ever use Amazon’s also-boughts?

I’m always checking out new search methods and new-to-me authors, but lately my selections have been especially hit-and-miss. The problem is that “I’ll know it when I read it” is not really searchable. I’m looking for a combination of qualities rather than neat pigeonholes like settings or subgenres.

I like upbeat stories with happy endings, romances or books with a strong romantic subplot. After that it gets tricky. I want heroes and heroines with intelligence, agency, and emotional depth. I love stories where strong characters deal honestly with one another, especially when that’s difficult. I prefer confrontation to secrets or lies or withholding information. My fave authors write series with strong communities. I actively seek out humor and kindness. I enjoy voice, but not when it tips over into look-at-me writing. I love a good sex scene, but only if it moves the story. I’ll try most subgenres.

I believe the Zon is one of the most powerful search engines in existence, but while it’s awesome at identifying reverse harem cowboy stories (not kidding), the search box is not my friend.

So this week I’ve been pondering the merits of the also-bought. I’ve always known that also-boughts are an important tool in the armory of the indie author, but I’ve never considered them as a reader. I have a natural distrust of vendor recommendations, so I’ve always skipped them, but now I’m wondering whether I’m missing a trick. If also-boughts are populated by algorithm, and honestly represent other authors purchased by readers who enjoy my favorite authors, then surely they must be worth investigating?

I checked the also-boughts of my favorite author, Ilona Andrews, and found a reassuring number of other authors that I really enjoy: Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs, Seanan McGuire. I also found a selection of new-to-me names, including some indies. I’m going to check them out and will report back, maybe even with reviews if my luck holds. I just hope also-boughts don’t turn out to be as vulnerable to manipulation as reviews.

What do you think? Do you follow also-boughts? Do you find them useful?

4 thoughts on “Jilly: Evaluating Also-Boughts

  1. I do look at also boughts, and I’ve found them helpful. That was how I discovered Rachel Gibson. Of course, no computerized tool is going to get it right all the time. Even when I stick to my favorite authors, it can be hit-or-miss. I LOVE Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but Just Imagine will never make my recommended list.

  2. I’ve found also-boughts to be quite useful in a variety of genres (including non-fiction). Of course, I always follow up and check up on the blurb/reviews to see if the books will really fit what I want to read, but they are a great first step.

    Another thing that is quite attractive is trusted recs. For example, Jenny’s Thursday books. I was going to say that my to-be-read pile is too tall for me to actually purchase anything, but that’s not true. Especially if I’ve heard of an author before, those mini-recs have prompted me to purchase most of my books this year, so far. I’m so tempted by a number of other titles that are recommended there, and since a lot of people post week after week, I can get a feel for the people whose tastes are closer to mine.

    • I haven’t actually read any of the recs that come up on Jenny’s Thursday column, but a lot of them sound good to me. It’s just that I’ve got so many books to read already that it would be madness to add to the pile.

  3. I use also-boughts for genres I don’t typically read (like contemporary westerns — went down a rat hole with that one, but it was fun). However, for reading the competition, I stick to recommendations from others and I watch the awards lists.

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