DISCOVERING NEW WRITERS
Part of being a writer is that you have to love reading. I have a lot of trouble understanding how someone could isolate themselves into a shell, write stories, novels, even non-fiction, yet abhor reading for pleasure. I suppose it happens. This is about those of us that embrace the pleasures of reading, whether fiction, non-fiction or both.
Everyone has their favorite writers, subjects, styles. The first thing I do when I go to the book store (there’s only one now, depending on which part of the country you live in), is seek out those authors I know are still publishing. Often, I have a list with me, especially for the more prolific ones so I don’t buy a book I’ve already read. Because I read a lot, it hasn’t taken me that long to exhaust the supply of titles over the past years.
Favorites can go a long ways, but eventually, the supply’s going to run out. Why?
EVERYONE HAS THEIR LIMITS
People read at different speeds, have more or less time to dedicate to it, and more or less money to spend on it. Therefore, they’re going to be able to dedicate more resources to their pleasure. Also, each person has their own desire to want to reach from point A to point B which affects how fast they’re going to get through each tome as much as all the other factors. All of this affects the speed at which they’ll exhaust the supply of what’s out there. Then there’s the attention span for any author. Many readers don’t like to read more than one book per author, regardless of how many books they’ve published.
IT USED TO BE EASIER
Back in the day, when there were other bookstores available, they used to have more clearly defined categories. When you wanted westerns, you could go to the western section. When you wanted icky bug, you could go to the horror section. Romance…
Nowadays, with just Barnes & Noble on each end of the country and Hastings in the middle, there are fewer categories. I’m not sure how Hastings does things nowadays. It’s been a few decades since I’ve been in one. As for B&N, they’ve lumped categories together: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Romance and Western for the adult categories. They’ve combined a lot so you have to look through more books to find what you want. It’s sort-of separated, but not as refined as it used to be.
THE NEW BOOK RACKS
The fact is, when you’ve exhausted your author’s supply, you have to take chances on new authors. Everyone does, especially those that don’t read the same author twice. The new book racks are the best place. This is where any new author’s marketing skills really come into play. Book cover, back blurb, print size, writing style all have an effect on who will buy their book. It certainly does on me!
When I’m looking for new authors:
- I’m first attracted to the genre. Above all else, is it a thriller, an icky bug, mystery, adventure or a little of either/or? Those are the main genres I am interested in.
- Second is the back blurb. I do a cursory look to see if it strikes my interest. I’ve learned long ago that most back blurbs either misrepresent completely, or only vaguely represent the truth inside. They give only a slight impression of the contents, just enough to pique my interest… get me to second base.
- Writing style. This is where I’ve been fooled before and one huge reason I don’t like e-books. I open the book and start leafing through. I look for third-person. As many of you know, I despise first-person. If I find that within, I put the book down… no, I throw it down, immediately, and move on. If I see third and mixed in I see first, I get highly suspicious and start leafing more meticulously. I especially hate half and half POV novels. If I find just a quick diary entry or a short clause in first-person, I can tolerate that. This is something you can’t do with e-books. I also look for empty space on each page. If I see a wall of words on every page, that’s a red flag that this author is a blabber, possibly an author with a literary bent, and this novel is probably a character study. Or, the author just likes to ramble on. Another reason to put it down.
- Finally, I look at the cover. Though you might think it’s first, to me, it’s just not that important. Of course, if it looks like a college essay or is downright ugly, that will give me pause, but outside of the romance covers, which are pretty obvious and a red flag, I see too many great covers for books I won’t read to pay much attention. There’s lots of fantastic artwork on book covers. Fantasy and science fiction have some of the best out there. However, they’re not my usual genres. I do, however, love green covers, or covers with lots of green in them.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
What are your criteria when you go to the bookstore? How many of you even have favorite writers? Do you read series, or do you pick random novels and go on to someone else? This equally applies to the non-fiction crowd. You may have favorite subjects instead of favorite writers.
As writers, most of us are readers also. We read for pleasure (or information) and know what we like. Why shouldn’t we use our own criteria to hook readers to our books? Think of that as you get ready to put your book out there for everyone to see.