Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding new authors?

By Lonnie Cruse

How DO you find new authors. Meaning new to you? They may have had books out in print for a while, but you never heard of 'em, so can they be any good?

There are several ways to check for new authors. You can always read part of the first chapter while leaning against the shelves in the book store. (Don't lean too hard, you don't want to be on the six o'clock news.)

You can flip through pages, glancing at a paragraph here and there, worried all the while that you'll stumble onto something that gives the whole plot away. (This one works pretty well for me because I cover my eyes with one hand and peek between my fingers.)

You can turn to page 60 (or is it page 50? Or is it to the center of the book? Gotta research that one) to see what's going on there, and if it grabs you, it's a good book. Heard that one on the Internet. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I've only tried it once or twice.

You can ask your friends what they are reading IF you trust their judgment.

You can ask a stranger whom you've spotted reading in public, IF you are a brave soul who never listened to her mother's advice about not speaking to strangers.

You can join book a club and hope their taste matches yours.

You can join discussion groups on the Internet and sift through the chaff to find the wheat.

You can ask the store personnel for their opinion.

You can fall in love with the cover and take a chance. This, I confess, has hurt me more than helped me. I'm a sucker for a great cover, gory covers turn me off, as do overly-plain covers. Give me a great cover, and likely I'm headed straight to the check-out without even reading the back cover or asking anyone about the book. Sigh.

You can also do something sensible like borrow books from the library that were written by authors you've possibly heard of but not read. Or books with lovely covers. You might even ask the librarian.

Sooo, friends, how do YOU find new authors? And if the book stinks, what do you do with it? Toss it? Give it to a friend and let her suffer with you? Put it in the back of the closet and hope it sells along with the rest of your estate some day? Sell it now?

Me, I'm not saying what I do with 'em. I'm an author. I can't harm another author's baby. Well, maybe, if the baby is really ugly.

Thanks for stopping by.


Paul said...

The consistently best way I have found to come across new authors is to read anthologies. Like boxes of mixed chocolates, anthologies give you small samples of many different writers. Some turn out to be keepers. Others do not. I nearly always find at least one new person I want to explore further when I read an anthology.
Recommendations by others never work out. Differences in tastes and expectations mostly. And when I see a book recommended highly on the internet, it has always proven disappointing to me. Don't know why that is.
I'm in a challenging, literary book discussion group, and while I dutifully read each month's selection and join the discussion as best I can, I only infrequently find a writer whose works I'll want to read more.

caryn said...

Good morning Lonnie!
I get a lot of my new authors from lists like DorothyL and a couple of Yahoo groups I belong to. I also pick up new to me authors from the conferences I've attended and when they visit a blog I read regularly.

I look over the new books at the library and in the book store, but there are so many authors that I try to keep up with that there really has to be something to grab my attention to get me to a new author's book. That's one of the problems with the same person writing under different names. If I recognize the name I pick up the book, if not, it's just another one of many "unproven" vying for my attention and money.

What do I do with the stinkers? Really? There are very few books I bring home from the library or buy that are total losers. Very few-like maybe 1 a year. Even if the book wasn't my cup of tea, I usually can think of someone who would love it so I just pass it on or return it to the library.
Caryn in St.Louis

Dru said...

I find new-to-me authors from many of the book newsletters I get, from browsing at bookstores, from word-of-mouth recommendations, from reviews and from authors that visit blogs that I read. I look at cover, the first paragraph and the blurb. I'm a visual person so the cover will make or break whether I pick up the book.

I rarely get a stinker, but if I do, I donate it to the library. It may not be my cup of tea, but it can be someone else.

signlady217 said...

Wander through and browse bookstores and libraries, and ask my friends and people in the stores, and read blogs. It works for me.

If it's a book I'm buying, it's probably a keeper and will be in the estate sale. But for the few purchases I regret, give to a friend or head to the used bookstore to swap.

Barb Goffman said...

How to find new authors? I have three suggestions:

(1) Try short-story anthologies. Paul said it best that they give you small samples of many different writers. (As an author published in several anthologies, I love folks who try this approach.)

(2) Go to mystery conventions. I'm the program chair of Malice Domestic, and what first attracted me to Malice, and kept me coming, is it's a fabulous way to meet and learn about new authors. Beth Saulnier, never heard of her before Malice. Ditto Julia Spencer-Fleming. And S.W. Hubbard. All authors I adore whose works I first read because of Malice.

(3) Ask your local librarian or bookseller for help. Tell them who you like to read and ask for suggestions for new authors to try out. When I used to live in Bethesda, Maryland, my local library had made up a list that put out by its mystery section. The list said: If you like books by X author, then try books by Y author. The X's were big names. The Y's were mid-list authors. I found it so helpful.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Wow, great suggestions, everyone. And I agree, Paul's example of anthologies being like a box of mixed chocolates is a terrific visual and a great way to find new writers. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Susan D said...

I read blogs. Like this one.

Anonymous said...

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I'm not a robot. I'm fully aware of my existence and I have no doubts about reality - it does not exist.
I don't have a website yet, but I'm planning on starting a blog like yours, any tips?
It's actually a pretty funny story what happened after I drank mushroom tea. I started posting random comments.

Tell me what you think, Captain, I'm all ears

Anonymous said...

Do you even speak English? Seriously, wall of text crits me for 99999k.

Anonymous said...

Do you even speak English? Seriously, wall of text crits me for 99999k.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, kind of drawn out though. Really good subject matter though.