The Fear of the New

Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive a book voucher for a big bookshop in the city. I love spending these things – book purchasing without guilt! Of course, I do tend to go over my allotted amount, but spread over a few books, that still makes them great value. When I got my haul home, I stacked them up on the table to gloat for a bit, and realised that none of them are by authors that I haven’t read before. They are all books by authors I already adore.Β  As someone who has just released a book (‘The Artemis Effect’), that lead me to some serious soul-searching.

Why would someone try my book, or take a chance on me as a new author?

When I do try a new author, what leads me to do so?

Is the cost of the book important?

Are people with different personalities more likely to take the chance on something new?

Does it make a difference whether the author is Indie or Traditionally published?

When I try a new author, there are certainly a few things which influence my choice.

Often I’ll take a chance on something new because it’s discounted. Most of the books I bought with my voucher were in the $20 plus category, and for me that’s a lot to fork out for something I might not enjoy. However, at the library, second-hand bookshop, or in the $5 pile, and I’m much more likely to give it a go. Once I’ve discovered something I do enjoy, I’m likely to stick with that author, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. Curiously, a book being free (as inΒ  Kindle Select Program release) does not make me more likely to try it – I suppose there is something in my head still which still whispers “You get what you pay for…”

I admit that I am shallow enough that a good cover can suck me in. Well, at least to picking it up in the first place, but if the blurb or section I scan don’t entice me, then the cover alone is not enough to make me branch out. A good example is David Michael Lukas’ ‘The Oracle of Stamboul’, which first attracted me because of its gorgeous cover art. Gave it a try, and what a find!

Being in the literary field, I do read a lot of reviews, and some of them have at least prompted me to add those books to be ‘To Read’ list, although to date I don’t think I’ve ever actually read any of them. Maybe that’s just laziness on my part. I sincerely hope that other people are more influenced by reviews than I am, or I feel it will be very hard to get the word out there about the new book. If there is an e-book I’m interested in anyway, then I’ll read the reviews before I buy it. Curiously, those reviews don’t have to be universally positive: one I read recently which stated that it was ‘gritty’ fantasy actually inclined me ion the book’s favour, as I’d probably prefer that to fluffy fantasy.

I have certainly picked up and read books by people I’ve met through blogging – most recently ‘Lupa’ by Marie Marshall, and also the novella ‘Prince of Graves’ by W.E. Linde. I’m only a couple of pages into Lupa, but I can highly recommend ‘Prince of Graves’, even though it is not normally the type of fantasy I read. Give it a go!

As to the question of different personalities – surely this must come into play. There are some people who adore routine, and feel lost without it. Others thrill at being avant-garde and cutting edge. I suppose that it may come down to your risk-taking profile. I’m perhaps best described as a calculated risk-taker. I’m done lots of physically risky things, (like parachuting, white and black water rafting, hang-gliding), and every time I tell my mother that I’m going on holiday, she asks, “Which dangerous place are you going this time?”. On the other hand, large scale public speaking scares the pants off me. However, trying a new author is a much smaller scale risk. It’s really a risk that you’ll be wasting your time, that most precious resource. Picking up (and persisting) with a bad book may take up time which you could have spent doing something much more fulfilling or enjoyable.

This point leads me to one close to my heart. I’ve often read comments from people (and indeed book reviewers) who say that they won’t read an Indie published book, as they’ve been burnt too many times in the past. Bad editing, poor spelling and formatting all detract from a story, and in some cases make it next to unreadable. They say that this dross will sink to the bottom of the ‘Amazon’ flood, but is this true? I’m sure that there must be great Indie books out there, wallowing in the silt at the bottom, who never had a chance because they were new and the authors never managed to break the ice of their anonymity. The trouble is finding them.

I would genuinely love to hear what factors make you more likely to try a new author, and also what makes you cautious! πŸ™‚

Related posts:

Trying Something New – Psychology Today

Every New Author’s Greatest Enemy (and How to Beat It) – Jeff Goins

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9 thoughts on “The Fear of the New

  1. Hi Kasia, I struggle with this question myself because I have so little time, I want to make good use of it. Price, cover and blurb all matter to me–I’ll try anything used or if just a few dollars. The ideas I’d add to yours are 1) friend and family recommendations will get me to buy a book (but not necessarily read one) and 2) anthologies that mix known with less-known authors. But here’s another challenge I think new authors face. Since I am a new author, I try to purposely reach out and read new authors. Some I have not liked and won’t buy anything else. Having watched my own writing trajectory, I know that we improve and my goal is for each book to be better than the last. And have watched others I did not like sell more and more books. More questions than answers.

    • Hmmm. Interesting. That’s a very good point about being part of an anthology with a wide range of authors. I think that Matt Williams is part of that sort of thing (he hopefully will be Guest Posting for me later this year), where a bunch of authors from the same genre band together.
      Some recommendations from freinds and family I’d follow, but some of them have quite different tastes!
      I’m sure you’re right about all writers improving with time. A few seem to get bogged down in the same topics, but fingers crossed each book will be better than the last! πŸ™‚

  2. An agent once told me there has to be a reason for people to try a new author, especially if the book is going to be priced high at first. I’d like to believe that isn’t true. I do read some of the same authors, but love to try new ones too. Sometimes it’s just the book title that will make me take the book off the shelf, sometimes it almost seems like the book is calling out to me. I’ll usually read the first few paragraphs and if that doesn’t intrigue me enough, I’ll put it back. Really not fair, I know. πŸ™‚ But I think the subject of the book has to be interesting enough too – I’m more likely to read science fiction or historical fiction, books that will make me think or show me a different world.

    • Good on you for being brave enough to try new authors! I usually flip to a bit in the middle to try out a section: the start is sometimes not all that representative, I find. There are so many out there though, that you have to have some kind of filter like that, or you would have to read every book fully to give it a fair go! πŸ™‚
      I wonder what reasons the agent had discovered for people to try new authors?

      • I think she was looking at it from a marketing perspective while asking the same thing – what will make people take that chance on a new author? So, she was saying I should steer my book toward light horror because that might make it easier to market. The problem is that it’s not light horror at all – I just tried to make the beginning exciting so then it seemed like light horror. πŸ™‚ I think it ends up coming down to the subject of the book and whether or not a reader would be interested. When I open up a book to judge it by those first few seconds, I try to look at the way it’s written too. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed your book – because of the quality of the writing.

      • That’s very interesting – and perhaps one of the attractions of going Indie I guess. You can stick to your guns about what feel you want your story to have, without having to distort and rewrite it to fit a marketing model. On the other hand, maybe you won’t sell as many! I don’t know if this is the case, but I personally I think I’d prefer to have smaller sales.
        Thank you for the comment on my writing – that’s very sweet of you!

  3. I hate to say, but usually the cover catches my eye. Then I look for an excerpt, and that usually seals it.

    Reviews don’t matter too much, I look for an interesting premise.

    ps — enjoying your book. In fact, I grew up in Cleveland and still have a house there. And Cleveland State U has at its core a large cement tower that looks like an ivory tower. We used to sneak into the campus gym to play pickup basketball. I am about 1/2 way though and wondering what happens next.

    how are you feeling?

    – bw

    • Hi! Feeling fine if a bit heavy. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the book so far! My folks lived in Cleveland for about three years, in Moreland Hills, and I visited them many times. I didn’t know about the ‘Ivory tower’ though, or maybe I would have written that in! My mother attended classes at CCC, but I don’t recall it having any particularly distinguishing features.

      Interesting that reviews don’t matter that much – I’ll try and bear that in mind when I get dubious reviews! πŸ™‚

  4. I’ve previously been quite snobbish about the authors I read. Not from any problem with the unknown, more that I didn’t read enough to take a risk with too many new writers. My favourite authors brought enough books out each year between them to keep me occupied.

    When I started blogging and bought a Kindle, a new world opened up in front of me. I’ve now bought a number of books by ‘new’ writers based on my dealings with them and blogland or Twitter. Are posts well written? Thought out etc. Do covers grab my attention? Have they taken the time and effort to make their book as professional as they could?

    So far I’ve read about ten new writers, most of which were self-published, and the standard (including your own) has been good. One or two have been at the lower end of the good scale and others at the top end of the good scale.

    I’ve been encouraged to continue that trend and I have about another ten books from indie-authors ready to read. The choice is better, writing more daring and I’m enjoying the entertainment. πŸ™‚

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