This story is already known to some, but when I started reading romance, it was because of the library and a woman I met there. I was looking for a different type of book, but it ended up being near the romance section. She was there browsing their collection, looking very intense, and when I’d grabbed the book I was there to get, I took a few steps in her direction. I wanted to see what had her so riveted.
I had never picked up a romance novel. I’d always read crime thrillers or non-fiction. I looked casually at what held her interest and we started up a conversation. That led to me leaving the library with not only the book I came to get, but with 4 romance novels. Julia Quinn. Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Lael Miller, Judith McNaught.
I. Devoured. Them.
And I went back for more. This time I left the library with double what I’d left with before. The time after that, doubled, tripled, quadrupled. I left with brown paper grocery bags full of romance novels. I was reading 1 or 2 a day. I had a full time job. I had a toddler. I was always reading every spare moment I could find.
It took several months, but I eventually exhausted all the romance books the library had. The woman and I had become fast friends over the reading of romance. We met up at the library weekly. Then we met up at bookstores.
I started writing not long after that. I have two unfinished novels, one contemporary and one historical, sitting in a box somewhere in my closet. I never thought I’d be a published author, not anywhere near as incredible as those I’d been reading.
But, the bookstores have gone away. For the most part. There are a few left, but… There’s a local one here that caters to local authors, but not romance authors. They don’t even have a romance section. I find that incredibly sad and short sighted.
The landscape for finding books has changed somewhat. I used to ask the bookstore employees when the new Julia Quinn book would be available. Now, I just look it up on her website or on Amazon or her Facebook page. Something has been personally lost in that, a connection has been severed with other book lovers anticipating the release of the same book.
A discussion was had yesterday about marketing and books. I see authors pouring thousands of dollars into Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Pinterest ads, ads on book websites, all pushing their books into what they hope are the faces of their target market. There’s a lot of connection through social media with authors now, but there’s also a disconnect…
Do you pay attention to the ads on social media? Are you this or that author’s target reader? Are you swayed by the push? It works for those authors who get it right.
How do you find books to read? New authors to try?
I was a reader before an author. I listened to what my friend had to say. I looked at books that were housed on the same shelves or nearby to my favorite authors. And I checked the new release shelves to see what might pique my interest. I didn’t read with the trends. I liked what I liked and I pretty much stuck to it. I’m still that way a lot.
On Amazon, I look at the Also Boughts of my favorite books and authors. I don’t take as many chances on new authors as maybe I should. I don’t fall prey to the ads I see, but then I’m also apparently not the target market for a lot of my go to authors. Then again, a lot of them don’t even bother with ads.
There’s so much noise in the book world that it’s hard to sit quietly. It’s always changing. New books are coming out daily. And the competition for limited shelf space is astronomical… And I’m talking virtual shelf space. It should be endless, but in order to be seen… It takes something that I haven’t yet been able to tap into.
So, tell me, readers, how do YOU find your next book to read? Your next favorite author? Is it through ads you see on social media? Is it a book group? Is it a friend? Is it random? And as a reader, what works for you when it comes to YOU wanting to try a new book rather than an author wanting you to try her, or his, new book?