First of all, I want to mention that I’m putting my novel EMPTY ALTARS on Amazon for free from Aug. 14-18. I’m hoping a promotion will bring more readers to the second novel in the series, SPINNERS OF MISFORTUNE. But I know the risk of making a first novel free. The last time I tried it, lots of people downloaded my book, but only a few wrote reviews for it and only a few bought the second book. They did what I do. They thought, “Hmmm, that sounds interesting. I might read it someday.” So they downloaded it and forgot about it. Like I often do.
I’m not a fast reader. I’m not a fast anything. I’m more like the tortoise. Slow and steady win the day. If I write ten pages a day, five days a week, eventually I have a first draft. Same goes for reading. If I read for an hour every night, eventually, I’ll finish a book. But believe me, it takes me a while. I think I’m even slower at reading than I used to be, because in the back of my mind, I’m analyzing the structure of the novel, where the plot points fall, and how the characters develop. It’s a bother! But it is what it is, and I’ve gotten used to it. The only books I don’t analyze are books that have great ideas, but poor writing. Nothing to learn from them.
Anyway, when I thought about how I read, I realized I’d be a horrible fan for most writers. I can’t read more than two books by the same author in the same series in a row, or I get way too critical of the third one. Most of my friends, when they find a new author they like, go out and read every single novel that writer has available. If you ever read one of my novels or novellas and like it, please be like my friends…and not me.
Just because I like one series an author writes doesn’t mean I’ll even try the next one. I’m a huge fan of the Mercy Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs. And I often buy anthologies that feature one of her novellas. I’ve bought some of her older series and loved them. But am I that devoted to her Alpha and Omega series? Sadly, I haven’t really given them a fair chance. And I’m probably missing out. But sometimes I like the characters and settings, the premise of one series more than another, even though I dearly love the author’s voice.
Sometimes, I just want something different. Readers seem to be enamored of series, but one of the reasons I like Sarah Addison Allen is because she writes stand-alone novels. Each book has a different set of characters and a different twist on her own special magic, but they each share the same voice. Her voice. Which I love. So, in this instance, I read her because of her writing style, which combines whimsical and magical and lyrical in some concoction that equates to happiness…at least, for me.
I tend to tire of the same genre if I read one novel after another in it. Every once in a while, I need to switch it up and read outside my usual type of fiction. That’s when I reach for a mystery or a romance or even nonfiction that interests me.
So, who do you read? Why do you like them? Where do you find them? And how do you choose new writers to try? Because those are all questions that we, as writers, need to think about. How do we bring readers to our stories? What works and what doesn’t?
And, if you do look for Empty Altars or Spinners of Misfortune, I hope you enjoy them!