Saturday, May 31, 2014

Discovering New Authors

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I read (and buy) a lot of books. My tastes run to romance and SF/fantasy.  I am a very loyal reader and auto-buy many authors. Every month my husband and I have a list of books culled from Locus magazine and Goodreads New Books By Authors You Like emails that we go in search of.  But how do I discover new authors?

1/ Browsing. In college, I used to spend hours browsing the library paperback racks and used bookstore shelves. Nowadays, I frequent bookstores. Every Saturday we visit our mall bookstore and every 1-2 months we go to a bigger bookstore like Chapters or Indigo—but those are usually hunting trips for specific titles for me. My husband, on the other hand, does a lot more impulse buying based on a good cover/back blurb. And those books often end up being read first by me because his TBR pile is enormous. This is how I discovered Robert Jordan, Ilona Andrews, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Naomi Novik and Jim Butcher.

2/ Recommendation. My husband reads lots of SF/fantasy books, and my mom reads lots of romance. This is how I discovered Terry Pratchett, Charles de Lint and Jayne Ann Krentz.

3/ Buzz. When I hear on Twitter or Goodreads that people are excited about the next book in a popular series, I may try to hunt down book one. This is how I discovered Darynda Jones, Patricia Briggs, Faith Hunter and Patrick Rothfuss.  Since I write YA, I keep my ear open for popular YA titles on the market. I will often try these first from the library and then, if I enjoy them, purchase my own copies. This is how I discovered Sarah Rees Brennan.

4/ Awards.  This works in two ways. I like to vote for the Aurora Awards, which often means trying new Canadian SF/fantasy authors. I have also taken note of which books have won or been nominated for RITAs. This is how I discovered both Tessa Dare and Jennifer Crusie.

5/ Cons. If I personally meet an author at a convention or am impressed by hearing them speak on a panel, I’m more likely to pick up their book. This is how I discovered Diana Rowland (seated at the same banquet table), Carol Berg (attended a panel) and Chadwick Ginther (friend of a friend).

6/ Online: Blogs, book clubs and free ebooks.  An entertaining blog post or excerpt will often lead me to check out a sample chapter or free read by that author.  I also belong to an online Romance book club which emails me the first 25 pages of a new book every week. This is how I discovered Jill Sorenson (book club), Eleri Stone (blog post & sample chapter) and PG Forte (excerpt & free ebook).

Oddly, I almost never read reviews. When I do, it’s usually to see what someone else thought of a book that I just finished reading.

How do you discover new authors? Do you read reviews?


  1. Good column! I pretty much find my books in all of the above ways but for science fiction romance I especially rely on the major blogs like The Galaxy Express and Smart Girls Love SciFi.

  2. For SF/F, a LOT of the books I pick up come from posts on But I also draw from John Scalzi's Big Idea column, and occasionally from posts on other high-profile authors' sites as well.

    Unsurprisingly, for mystery/suspense, I pull from's sister site Criminal Element as well.

    For romance, Smart Bitches is my go-to site for what I may want to read next.

    If I hear about a book from any of these sources that I'll want to check out, if it's not an author I already know, I'll go look the book up on Goodreads. And the first thing I do is see what the one-star reviews are saying, if there are any. If there aren't, I'm going to want to see some excerpts. So the next thing I might do, assuming an excerpt wasn't included in whatever post I heard about in the first place, is yoink a sample down off of B&N or Kobo, if the book's already on sale.

    A lot of the time I'll be relying way more on actual excerpts than I will on reviews, outside of the sources mentioned above. I rarely look at Goodreads reviews in depth, although I do note aggregrate ratings and how many of each rating a book's got.

  3. Thanks, Veronica and Angela! I will have to check out those blogs.


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