Finding Good Books to Read

June 21, 2014 in Articles

Good Books To ReadYou would think that finding a good book to read in this new world of digital technology would be a synch! Not always the case though, traditional publishing is in decline and the time of the independent publisher is definitely here, but with a few drawbacks.

Love them or loathe them traditional publishers, good ones at least, did tend to ensure that a certain level of quality was maintained in the world of books. They were the gatekeepers and quality controllers of the publishing world. Any book that was not properly edited, proof read and formatted simply didn’t get out of the door. Then of course there is the content to consider, now that’s where things could become a bit subjective. For example Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishing houses before being taken on by a small publishing house at the behest of the CEO’s eight year old daughter. So basically it took a child to spot the magic of Harry Potter and bring it into the public domain. There have also been plenty of other famous authors that were rejected. So clearly the publishing houses don’t always get it right and who knows how many brilliant authors with fantastic books simply gave up and failed to reach the illustrious position of ‘innovation’ (that means commercial release in the development world).

Clearly then there is a strong case for independent publishing, because authors can in effect bypass the gatekeepers and let the public be the judge of their work. The problem is that they can, to a certain extent, bypass the quality control process as well. Some may decide not to use an editor or even get their book proof read. And as for the formatting, for digital books at least, anyone that has tried to read a badly formatted eBook will tell you, even if the story is a good one, the frustration may just see it thrown to one side and discarded before it is finished.

Which brings us back to the question of how to find a decent book that is worth reading from the content perspective as well as the quality perspective, in what is rapidly becoming an ocean of new independent publishers.

Basically what most avid readers want are books where you can simply enjoy a good story without being driven mad by the spelling mistakes, loss of a story line or complete inconsistency in font type, line spacing or size . Well you will be glad to hear that there are ways in which you can separate the wheat from the chaff, read on below for a few suggestions.

Photos Courtesy of PhotoXpress

How to Find a Good Book to Read

Amazon does have some great tools you can use for finding good books based on your past history, preferences, books you like and what other people bought. But they are not the only game in town, even if they are the biggest. That said the first few tips are for finding good books on Amazon.

  1. Amazon book lists, check out the best sellers or hotest new releases lists
  2. Use the ‘What other people bought’ feature on Amazon to find books that other people have read
  3. Scroll to the bottom of a book page to click on tags or categories to get the highest ranking books with the same tags or in the same categories
  4. Look out for ‘Listmania’ lists, they usually appear at the left hand side of search results and sometimes you can search Listmania so just put in what you are searching for.
  5. Register with book review sites where you can list the books you have read, review them and recommend them to others. And of course visa versa. Probably the best known of these sites is GoodReads
  6. Look for blogs that publish, distribute and/or review books. eBookIssues for example.
  7. You can look on social media sites and search for books or genres of books, sites like Stumbleupon and Delicious are particularly good for books.
  8. Micro-blogging sites such as the famous Twitter remember to use the # when you search e.g. #ebooks #indies #books #romance etc.
  9. Multiple digital format distributors such as Smashwords so that you can get your books in a format to suit your eReading devices.

Book Distributors Other Than Amazon

Not all of these distributors offer ‘look inside’ or free samples but most do and you can always check the books out on the sites that do and then purchase in your preferred format.

Both Barnes & Noble and Smashwords offer free samples to download for sure.

This is the biography page for Moulin Publications. Moulin Publications provides a specialist eBook publishing service to all authors struggling to deal with the file formatting requirements asked of them to get their books published on Smashwords and other popular eBook distribution sites.

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A New Way to Choose Which Book to Read
Whichbook is a unique site for choosing what to read. Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in.

How You Can Identify A Good Book To Read

  • Read the reviews on the distributor site, note the new ‘verified purchaser’ indicator on Amazon that tells you the reviewer actually bought the book. Doesn’t always mean they haven’t read it if they are not verified because authors do give away free samples to professional or amateur reviewers
  • Use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon, you can usually read up to 20% of the book before committing to purchase. Should be enough to get a feel for the quality and the content.
  • Use the request a sample feature or download options on distributor sites. This is similar to look inside but you actually get the sample downloaded to your device
  • Join an on-line book club, GoodReads is one example but you can also look for book clubs that specialise in the genre you are interested in so you can really home in on your favourite types of books. You can look at the reviews and recommendations for books of interest.
  • Join Shelfari this is Amazon’s own book club. You can add books add extra information, join specific groups and so on. The information also feeds back to the book in Amazon. Pretty neat resource for authors and readers.

What Makes a Book Worth Reading Anyway

Makes you laugh or cry or both?

Good booksWhat makes a book worth reading is the million dollar question. Why? Because that is totally subjective and depends on the perspective of the reader. Adults have different perspectives to children, men have different perspectives to women, some people are serious and some people are frivolous. You can probably see where I am going here, we are all different and I have pointed out some of the obvious ones, but there are many others much more subtle than the ones illustrated. So is there a common ground?

I actually don’t think there is, not in terms of perspective anyway, but people do read books for different reasons and these can probably be categorised more easily. For example the two clear functions of a book are either to inform or to entertain. Yes you can then delve into those categories and be more specific, some people are entertained by horror thrillers, or psychological thrillers of the paranormal others by funny books that make them laugh or romantic novels that carry them into a world of fantasy. This is why there are so many different genres and categories associated with books and perhaps why some publishers of books can struggle to place their books in the right places for their readers to find them.

That doesn’t really help anyone looking for a good book to read, if a book they would really enjoy is categorised in a way they simply wouldn’t think of searching for it then the likelihood is that they will never find it; other than by accident. I also think that sometimes people don’t actually know what they are looking for or in fact what they will enjoy. So what happens?

Typically people latch onto one author or genre and stick with it or her/him, probably why recently best selling Trilogy’s have been so successful (assuming of course that the second and third are not required reading to find out what actually happened). Everyone is playing safe, sticking to what they know or what the masses dictate is a good book. Best sellers for example are self perpetuating, the more people that read them the more people there are that want to read them, and why not I hear people saying. Because we are all different is what I say, so instead of being a bit of a sheep, perhaps we should get off the main rail and take a side track, even if it’s only once in a while.

I seem to have digressed onto a soapbox for some reason, so I had better hop back down onto terra-firma and just finish by saying that what makes a good book is whether it delivered to you, as an individual, what you wanted. Whether that was in an expected or surprising way. Actually the latter would probably be more enjoyable, the fact that you got what you wanted was a surprise, it even sounds better.

So don’t let someone else put you off a book, read the description and yes take in the book reviews but most important of all take a look at the sample for the first few chapters and make up your own mind whether you think you will like it or not. And of course I do have to take a step back from my earlier statement, if you find an author or a genre you really enjoy, then why not take on more of the same, just don’t forget that sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Plus these days in the world of digital eReaders and eBooks, most literary exhibits are very affordable so the risk you are taking is small.

Of course if you are interested in the books on this site you can click on the BOOKS category and browse away.

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Writing and Marketing an eBook

June 10, 2012 in Articles, Book Marketing

When you have finished writing your book and you are ready to upload it to Amazon or perhaps an alternative distributor, it is time to stop and think. There are some important actions that need to be taken care of before you make the wrong impression to your intended audience.

eBook Marketing1. Create a really compelling cover. Have you got a professional cover to accompany your book? It needs to look good not only as a full sized image, but also as a thumbnail.  Amazon shows thumbnail cover images in search results, automated merchandising, and detail pages. This is the equivalent of having your book on a shelf in a book store and the image must grab the attention of anyone viewing it. Without a professional cover it is unlikely that a potential customer will click through to the detail page of your book, the first step they take when making a purchase. If you’re struggling with creating a compelling cover, you should use a design service to create your cover.

2. Edit and proofread your book properly. Just because you have created an eBook it does not mean you can allow standards to drop. Your book needs to be readable and error free. Books filled with typos and grammatical errors will probably result in negative customer reviews. So think about using a book editing service and employing the services of a proof reader.

3. Writing a compelling description of the book. The description of your book gives potential customers the opportunity to learn about your book before they make a purchase. It is worth thinking about the description of your book as an extension of your writing style i.e. you can give potential customers a taste of your writing style and the pace of your book in the description. Again it needs to be readable and error free. It also needs to contain the search terms that people are likely to use to find a book of your genre and topic. This is essentially your sales pitch and an opportunity to convince readers to buy your book. Once again if you are struggling to put together an appropriate description then consider using the services of a professional copywriter.

4. Introducing yourself to your readers. make sure you have an ‘author profile’ available. Amazon provide this facility through their Author Central option, one for each of their primary distribution sites. Ensure your author profile is complete on all the sites you are going to offer your book for sale. You can use Author Central to upload your picture, add a biography, and in some cases link to your blog or a Twitter feed so you can speak directly to readers. If you are not using Amazon, then look what other options are available to you, you may even need to create your own blog or perhaps request an author page and or book post on this site. So if you need help with this then get in touch via the Contact Us page, the discussion can be as long as you want.

Creating a compelling author page takes just a few minutes and will help readers learn more about you and your books. Here are a few examples of author pages visible on Author Central: Brian StephensSamantha FordRichard Cheesmar. Remember, where possible, to use all the facilities offered in order to promote yourself  and your book, blog links, Twitter, Facebook etc.

5. Promote your book online. You can use the Web to connect potential readers and purchasers with your book. Social networks are a free way to establish a following. You can create profiles on sites such as  Facebook and Twitter to promote your book on those sites. LinkIn is a good option for non-fiction books especially if they have a business base. Similarly, you can create a website or blog for your book very easily and cheaply, you can post on message boards, join user communities, and promote your book on many sites across the Web. Always remember however, no-one likes direct selling and as proud as you are of your book, ramming it down peoples throats and telling them to buy it simply doesn’t work. It is far better to discuss how you came to write your book, what aspects of the writing you struggled with, how the main characters were created and what gave you the idea for them. In other words you need to create interest and engage with people, make friends with them and garner a little bit of trust. That way you will build a loyal following, not only for your first book but also any subsequent books you produce.

6. Upload videos and book trailers. If you have the inclination and capability you can create videos and book trailers for publication on sites such as YouTube. Self-publishing authors are increasingly creating video trailers to advertise their books online, and  with respect to Amazon, the  Author Pages give you a place to feature those video trailers. You can simply upload a short video that shows readers what your book is about and tempts them to read the book to find out more. This is a great tool and if you can put together a professional video, there is no doubt it will help you sell your book.

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