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.

Smashwords
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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Need a Really Effective Book Description? – Read On

May 24, 2013 in Articles, Book Marketing

Good Book Descriptions Sell BooksOne of the useful aspects of being registered as a KDP publisher is that every now and then you get sent the KDP newsletter and are invited to read some very useful articles. This week was no exception and one of the topics covered was the extremely important ‘how to write an effective book description’.

Why it is so important, actually critical, to write a good book description is because the description should be more accurately named ‘my best chance to sell my book’. It is your primary advert and the main opportunity you will get to hook a potential reader and customer. It can mean the difference between your book languishing inconspicuously among the crowded shelves or really standing out as a book that a buyer might want to read, put on their wish list or even better in their shopping basket.

It is for this reason that many authors might struggle to write a good description. They often don’t regard it as an advert, but as an extension to their writing prowess. The two need to be divorced, what is written in the book is one thing and what is written to sell the book is another.

As most marketers will know, a good advert is one that grabs the attention in a simple concise move that leaves the observer wanting  more. And of course, with books, the way to find out more is to open the cover and read the book; step 1 on the route to a sale.

What are the elements that contribute to a good book description?

  • Keep it simple, don’t try and tell the whole story just keep to the main plot and don’t be tempted to get into the ‘if and then’ scenarios. Concentrate on the key focus of the book and try to make sure the description makes an impact.
  • Less is more, bearing in mind that the objective is to carry your potential client swiftly to the ‘cover opening point’ (or ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon). Give them too much to read and too much of the story and you may lose them before they decide to open the cover. Keeping the description short and punchy is more likely to leave them wanting more.
  • Tell the your viewer about the story as though you were sitting in a bar having a chat to a friend and they want to know how much you enjoyed the story. Remembering that you are describing it in the third person and you are doing it right now.
  • Provide a smattering of power words that are compelling and highlight the depth of emotions felt, the danger present or the potential rewards.
  • Read the descriptions of the best sellers in your genre and see what you can adopt and modify for your own book, especially those parts that act as the hook. If you see a few words that make you think ‘wow’ I want to find out more about this, they are the hooks, the decision maker words that will take the reader to that next step.

To visit the full article on how to write an effective book description go to the CreatSpace page.

What about the search engines?

Something that many authors, or publishers for that matter, will fail to consider are the search engines. Amazon for example is a powerful player on the Internet and as a consequence pages they publish often get returned by search engines for relevant inquiries. This is especially true of reference books that discuss serious topics. But it can also be true of non-reference books and novels.

Book Descriptions & Keywords Clearly Fifty Shades of Grey is a bit of an obvious example to use. But you can see that just typing ‘shade of grey’ gave a second place for Amazon in the search results even before I had selected an option to go with.

But believe it or not, the same can be true of other less well known examples.  And what you should also note is that the highlighted Shades of Grey in the snippet below the title will either have come from the book title or the book description. In this example it was the title, but it could just have easily been the description.

Google (or any other search engine used) decide exactly what goes in the snippet from the relevant text available and will clearly try and match the search with the result they list. This is to show that the result returned is truly related to the search being made.

To get to the point then, if you include some words in your description that are searched on and are relevant to your book topic or genre then combine that with the power of sites like Amazon. There is a chance that it could be your book that is sitting at number 2 or 3 in the search results.  You can find out a little more about keywords and how they work via this link.

This doesn’t just work for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony and even sites like Smashwords carry a lot of clout with search engines, so if you are publishing a book and writing a description, this is perhaps one more aspect you might want to consider. Again don’t go over the top, identify one or two highly relevant keywords for your book that are frequently searched for and include them in your description. That won’t do any harm at all, as long as you don’t compromise the natural flow of the words and ensure the description still reads well. It is a human audience you need to satisfy, once they view the page, after all.

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