If I could earn an income from book blogging I’d be one very happy chappy. I’m fortunate to be paid for a monthly wrap-up post I do elsewhere, but otherwise this book blogging gig is purely done for the love of it.
Although I do (of course) receive free copies of books to read—which is amazing. If I didn’t need to pay bills, buy vanilla diet coke and stuff I could die happy. 😉
Nowadays I mostly get listings from bigger publishers: I put in a request and (more often than not) receive the book in question. It’s a weird process as listings come out in advance, so I’ve recently poured through some March catalogues and I never quite know what will arrive in my post-box or when.
Today however I had cause to go onto a site where you ‘search’ for books according to publisher or genre to put in a request. It’s very much like going to the local library or bookshop and being faced with a myriad of choices!
So for the first time in ages I was forced to remember ‘how’ I used to select my reading fodder. It’s not rocket science of course and I’m pretty sure it’s something that varies from person to person… but I thought I’d share my highly-technical process for choosing books to read.
1. The author
In my blog posts I often talk about my go-to authors. There are those I love and whose books I devour almost religiously and then there are those whose books I try to read. Earlier this week I mentioned that I used to seek out certain authors at my local library (or bookstore). Of course occasionally I’d discover a new author and if they were already established I was in heaven as I had a huge backlist to read through and wasn’t compelled to wait until their next installment was released.
2. Word of mouth
Once upon a time I predominantly heard about books through reviews in newspapers or magazines or on television. However I now read A LOT of book blogs and participate in some ‘link-ups’ on a weekly basis which exposes me to a summary of others’ reading. I try to read 40-50 of those summary posts a week and if I consistently hear good things about a book or author I make a note to check it out. And then of course there are the Aussie book bloggers I know and love and – although sometimes it seems we’re all reading and writing about the same thing – there’s still enough variety out there to get a taste of what’s happening in the industry.
3. The cover
It’s a sad but true fact most of us DO judge books by their cover (and I suspect my single-status reflects that travesty of human nature! 😉 ). As I’m not a fan of romance I usually steer clear of books with kissing couples or half-naked men on the cover. And cartoon / drawn covers? Not usually my thing as they tend to represent chick lit or similar. Lately however the increasingly-popular-in-the-US book known as the ‘cosy’ (cozy) also seems to feature the quaintly drawn cover. Irrationally (!!) they make me run a mile though I love Agatha Christie who I assume to be a cosy read. It’s all about your personal taste, I guess but unless you love that author or have heard amazing things about it, a cover can make or break a book.
4. The backcover blurb
A book’s promotional material is important and we’ve all felt kinda duped when we’ve read a book which was NOTHING like the backcover blurb promised.
As a result, the blurb (or summary) is a bit like the cover. It’s often the final thing standing between us buying or borrowing a book, or not; and I know a lot of self-published authors say writing the blurb is sometimes harder than writing the book.
But… if you haven’t read a review (or blog post) about the book it’s really all you have to go on and more often than not it does offer a fairly good reflection of what’s inside.
5. The art of comparison
I sigh when I see the words “If you loved Gone Girl, you’ll love…” (although now it’s Girl on a Train!) But I do realise it’s a necessary evil and I used to appreciate that my local library had listings of similar authors. I’m not sure how they were developed, and suspect there wasn’t huge amount of scientific analysis undertaken, but they were helpful and I certainly discovered some new authors that way.
In my experience library and bookshop staff are also good at making recommendations based on your reading tastes. They might not read or like the genre themselves but they’re privy to what everyone else is reading or borrowing.
So… that’s how I set about choosing books. What do you look for?