Murder Has Consequences
by Giacomo Giammatteo
on Tour October 1 - November 30, 2013
How To Discover New Authors
How do readers find new authors? In the old days of a few years ago most of it was done by browsing the bookstore. Most of us would start out in the aisles that housed our favorite genres but, at least for me, I’d end up wandering many aisles, including the bargain- and new-release shelves. I treasured those trips to the bookstores. My wife and I would make a weekend night out of it, and we seldom left the store before two hours were up. Usually, our arms were loaded with books when we went to the checkout counter.
The best part about the trips was the anticipation of discovering new authors. Finding someone I hadn’t read before and sitting down to read a sample to determine if I might enjoy the writing. I knew some of the people who worked at the store, and I usually asked them if they had read this book, or that author. Using this method I managed to be fairly accurate at picking out books I liked.
The problem now is I don’t go to the bookstore much anymore. All of my shopping is done online.
Pros and Cons
Shopping online for books is a lot more convenient. It’s a lot less expensive, too. And I don’t need to buy more bookshelves to hold the collection of hardbacks I have treasured for years. But it’s not all roses. Shopping online also has it’s downside. One of the biggest—for me—is that I miss the browsing.
Yes, I know you can browse online, and I know the selection is far, far bigger…but…I think that’s the problem. If you search Amazon’s mystery section in Kindle, there are more than 100,000 books. Just in mystery! How in the hell do you browse through 100,000 books?
Most people end up looking at the top sellers, usually a few dozen. Some go as far as checking out the top 100. Maybe they look at new releases or what’s hot. But at the end of a session, it’s doubtful if they saw more than 100 books. Highly doubtful if anyone sees 200. So how do those other authors get discovered?
I can tell you, it’s not easy. I know because not only am I one of those other authors, I also am one of those readers looking through the list. About a year ago I stopped browsing my old way and started using the “average customer review” method. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, I’ll show you; it’s easy.
Go to Amazon’s site (B&N and Apple don’t have this method of sorting) and set the search bar for “Kindle books” and then type in what you’re looking for as far as genre goes. You can do a general search, like “mystery” or “romance” or “fantasy.” Or you can get very specific, “hard-boiled mystery,” or “crime fiction” or “epic fantasy.”
Once you get the results, look to the right and you’ll see a drop down menu that says “Sort” and by default it’s set to “relevance.” Click on it and select “average customer review.” The list will then change and you’ll be shown the top-ranked books in that category as rated by the reviews. This is not a strict order, but a ranking Amazon assigns based on a combination of number of reviews and review ranking.
It’s Not Foolproof
This is by no means a foolproof method. You can’t simply buy the top-ranked books and expect to be happy with your purchases, but it’s a damn good start to the process. This method doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a book you like, but it’s a fairly safe bet that the books near the top of these lists will be well-written, with few mistakes. If you combine this with reading a sample of the work, you should have good success in selecting books.
I found two great new authors this way—David Bishop and Christopher Bartley. Both of them write mysteries. Bartley’s series is set in Chicago in the 1930s and Bishop’s in the present day. I’ll be picking up more of both of their books. These are not authors I would have likely found anywhere else. They’re not typically hanging out with the “Top 100” crowd on Amazon or B&N, and they don’t have big advertising budgets from one of the traditional publishing houses, which means that discovery relies on other means.
If you haven’t tried this yet, give it a go, you might find some new good reads. And whatever you do, try to leave a review when you’re done. It helps us new authors be discovered.