7/1/13

Wheat Among the Chaff

This last week I read three books in about as many days. I haven't read that much in a long, long time and it felt so good to immerse myself into a story again, to get lost in another reality.

The books were three of Janet Chapman's Highlander books, Midnight Bay trilogy. They had time travel, magic, romance and above all beefy Highlanders! What a combination!

As I read, I wondered why I haven't sat down and enjoyed a story in such a very long time. Usually I have a goal of reading 50 books in a year. I think I'm up to 28 books now, including children's books. Most of the time I come close to that number, but this year, I've put down almost half of the books that I've picked up to read. 

Why?

When I looked at my Kindle and the unread books, I realized most of them had been freebie downloads. This isn't to say that all freebies are bad, they aren't. They are a great way to discover a new-to-you author, and many of the authors offering freebies are established authors who are making their backlist available to readers.

--though a few of these authors have total 'clunkers' that publishers loved, but I really disliked the MC character, or I figured out the plot before the MC, or whatever.

But there are also millions of writers who are publishing their work without the benefit of honest critique and good editing. Even those who do have a good editing system in place are still facing the daunting challenge of being discovered by a reader.

This is the case of the wheat grain among the chaff. 

There is so much chaff available, how does one find the quality books you want to read? Plus, it doesn't help that everyone's grain of wheat is different.

Personally, with the advent of e-readers, I have found it harder to find authors. Oh, Amazon tries to help with suggestions, but what if you want something new and different?

If I hadn't been wandering the bookshelves of the local brick and mortar store, I would never have discovered Jim Butcher, or Jayne Castle (Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz), or Ann McCaffrey, etc. And I certainly doubt they would have been suggested to me, because at the time I was reading something totally different than what these author's write.

I don't have any answers to this problem. And I imagine publishers have been struggling with this problem for decades.

If you do go online and look up, let's say a picture book, Amazon will have a few 'suggestions', 'hot deals', and a list on the left of popular series books. But how many PB authors are lost in the muddle using this method?

Hundreds of Thousands.

Picture books aren't really money-makers for anyone involved unless a particular series takes off, and libraries can only buy so many PB's, which leaves publishers wondering how to gain the publicity of a new author.

Again, I don't have any answers.

When I heard about Amanda Hocking's YA, "Switched" being offered for free soon after she made a million dollar deal and before it was taken down from Amazon, I snatched it up.

And didn't like it.  I couldn't get past the first few pages.

I also snatched up the first 19 chapters of James Patterson's, Alex Cross, RUN.

And didn't really care for it, either.

And Hugh Howey's, WOOL. . . well, you get the picture.

These three examples are runaway best sellers. Two of them were indie-pubbed, before being picked up by NY publishing houses.

And I didn't care for any of them.

So how do you find new authors to read?

Well, the one that I fall back on is . . . wandering around brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Or word-of-mouth.

Or simply rolling the dice and seeing what number I hit.

Yeah, finding a new author is like a crapshoot. Sometimes you hit the jackpot . . .

and sometimes, you 'crap' out.

It's tough on both ends of the scale, as a writer as well as a reader.

I wished I had some answers . . . though I do think writing the best book possible, amping up the adventure, and careful editing along with an awesome cover can't hurt.

But it's still getting the word out about the book.

  • Reviews can only do so much--I never buy a book based on a review, though I won't buy one based on one.
  • Blog posts only reach so many people unless someone shares the blog--resulting in 'word-of-mouth' sharing. 
  • Facebook/Twitter/Google + will only reach your fan base, but how many of them actually see or even read your posts. Many times people only care about their posts, and won't bother to read or share anyone else's posts.
As I have no final thoughts about this situation, I'll just leave it to you to figure out the answer to this problem.

I'm open to suggestions.

Later, Peeps!

2 comments:

Meg said...

I have a similar problem of not liking the runaway best sellers.
Words from trusted friends are how I discover new authors.
I have loved some from contests though.

Margaret Golla said...

I do love 'discovering' writers through contest entries, but there is also the wheat vs. chaff scenario there, too!