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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Robert Durrant – Author of Fiction Novels

November 1, 2013 in

Robert Durrant - AuthorRobert Durrant is a native of the beautiful city of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK where he still resides and works.

His wide and varied interests include time spent writing fiction novels. A process he says can be both difficult and frustrating, but thankfully, he finds that it is also hugely rewarding. This is the reason that it can now be reported that he has completed his first novel ‘The Wake Crasher’, a slightly humorous look at the darker side of life through the eyes of some young adults struggling to make ends meet at a time when the world is in financial meltdown.

Robert works in a stressful job managing a large turnover and operating to tight schedules, mostly involving large reports and accounts. He understands the need for working to fixed dates having previously been in a career as a police officer. No doubt he has drawn on his current and previous experience to fuel the material for his fiction novels, perhaps witnessing a few events the public would not be privy to.

Robert second novel in the pipeline, a thriller called “The Reluctant Killer” has just been released and takes a look at the life of a man diagnosed as HIV positive who then finds himself in a life threatening hostage situation.

As an author of fiction novels, Robert is off to a great start, so bookmark this page and make sure you don’t miss any of his new releases, especially ‘The Reluctant Killer’ and its sequel. The first of which, as mentioned above,  is now available and you can find out more about it via the link below.

Robert’s Books

When is a Book Promotion Not a Book Promotion?

July 19, 2013 in Articles, Book promotions

A book promotion is not something to be taken lightly i.e. you cannot just reduce the price or make your book free without first thinking about what you want to achieve through your book promotion and how you are going to communicate to potential purchasers that you are actually doing a book promotion. Neither should you just choose to advertise your book on any old site that takes your fancy without first checking whether you are likely to get a return on your investment.

Promotion Objectives

Your promotion objectives will very likely be dependent on where you are in the publication process, for example is it a pre-release promotion, a new release promotion or a promotion aimed at boosting flagging sales?

Promoting Books

The billboard didn’t work so I thought I would get more focussed

A Pre-Release – your objective here would be to try and generate a buzz about your impending new book and get people interested in it when it is published. You can use the discussion about the imminent arrival of a new book to add subscribers to a mailing list, your Twitter following, your social media pages, book review sites and blog.  As it is a pre-release then there is no real problem hitting all these channels on the same day, and just letting as many people as possible know in one hit. Doing that is likely to generate the most interest and discussion, you do not want to do this too far in advance of the actual release however as people will cool off after the initial news. The week before is probably a good time frame, especially if you can propose an actual release date.

Each is equally important because each option you can build followers for will give you different channels of communication which can then be used at a later date to advise interested parties of new book releases or special promotions. They are all lists of potential customers that have expressed an interest in your books. Be careful not to spam people however, not only is it illegal to send out unsolicited emails, it is also probably the fastest way to get people to drop you like a stone.

A New Release – your new releases should be done on Amazon first, primarily because once you submit your book for publication you can be fairly confident it will be available in a no more than 24 hours. So normally it is easier to plan the promotion, unless it gets stopped in the review stage for some reason. That can happen and sometimes there is no way you can do anything about it, but it is quite rare.

Another reason for using Amazon first is because this then gives you the option of enrolling in KDP Select (this requires your book to be exclusive to Amazon and not published elsewhere). There are 2 benefits to KDP select, first your books become available in the Prime lending library and secondly, you can run Free promotions on fixed days for up to 5 days. The latter could be a strategy you employ after an initial period when the first pass of sales seems to have waned. Once enrolled in KDP select you are tied in for 90 days, so be sure this is a strategy you want to employ before committing.

The other thing to remember when you are promoting a new release is to adopt a slow burn promotion, this should mean you build your sales rank slowly over time and not experience a sudden spike that falls as quickly as it rose. What is a slow burn, well basically it means not using all your communication channels on the same day. Use your mailing list, then your blog & social media pages over a few days, then maybe add the book to the review sites, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari and so on. For some this will happen naturally because as a one man band and dealing with the technology at the same time as holding down a job, it is likely to mean you can’t do everything in one day anyway. But that is no bad thing especially as you consider you want most of your sales to come after you have actually gained a sales rank, the pre-requisite for which of course is that you have made at least one sale.

Post Release Promotion

Book PromotionsA post release promotion is a little trickier, because you will have already used all your communication channels to promote the book at the release stage. So what you may need to consider is whether it is time to change your chosen categories, especially if sales are flagging, perhaps you can find a less competitive category or perhaps less competitive keywords. This means you may be in a category seen by fewer people, but at least there is a chance you will be seen by some.

The reverse is true also, if you are having reasonable success, you may want to put your book into a more competitive category, where more people are looking but only if you think you are high enough up the ranking to compete, otherwise there is no point.

Other than that, the post release promotion should follow the principles of the new release, unless there is a good reason to just go for it e.g. your selling a gardening book which is seasonal in nature and you need to get it noticed by all the gardeners looking to get started at the beginning of the gardening season. Perhaps that is the nature of the beast, you know you will get good sales at certain times of the year so you save your promotion tools until the period is about to start and then you hit it hard. There are probably better examples than gardening, but you should get my drift.

Another option for a post release book if you have managed to gather some reviews, is to use promotion sites, perhaps even paid ads. The problem is, as anyone that has already tried will know, that the best ones will not accept books without a reasonable number of reviews to a high level and normally only from as well. That can be difficult if you sell most of  your books on the other Amazon sites, unless you have strong powers of persuasion.

Finally, another option is a free promotion, this is easier to do if you are enrolled in KDP select, where you get 5 free promotion days per 90 day enrollment. I have to say I am not a big fan of this approach, firstly because I don’t like the exclusivity constraint and secondly because you are appealing to a different audience. One that has no intention of buying books. So what can you gain from this approach?

Potentially it may lead to more reviews and even a review from a free download registers as an Amazon verified purchase, which carries more weight than non-verified reviews. Also if you can give away enough free books you may get a little higher up some of the available lists. For one of my books I got listed as a hot new release because I did the promotion just after initial release. But there are other lists, like the popularity lists that you can influence. My experience was that the uplift was relatively short lived, I did get sales from the promotion but not as many as I would have liked and certainly not as many as I have gained outside Amazon now I have left KDP select behind on that particular book. Which may be of interest actually as it is all about Web Marketing using the search engines, I know a pretty competitive arena.

That said it does work for some people and in some genres has proved to be a very successful strategy, or so I am told.

So now I need to answer my own question, When is a Book Promotion Not a Book Promotion? The answer is pretty clear, when it is not properly planned, implemented and communicated correctly.

Communication Channels Available to Independent Publishers & Authors

  • Personal Blogs
  • Social Media Pages
  • Social Media Sites
  • Review Sites 
  • Book Blogs and Bloggers
  • Author Central
  • WEB 2.0 Services

You can find more information on how to utilise the Communication Channels open to you via this link

Photo Credits:

atduskgreg via photopin cc

Scottish Libraries via photopin cc

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