In this crazy, online world one constant remains: word of mouth is still the best recommendation for a good book. The second best?
Meet the author in person.
Reader events abound, and there are new ones popping up each day. Unlike libraries, where the latest releases by your as-yet undiscovered new favorite mid-list author are seldom available, these events give readers a chance to meet authors in person. Ask questions. Judge their personalities - which are bound to spill into their writing. See if you are a match.
Of course, this does require some effort on the reader's part. It may mean traveling to a conference featuring authors in your favorite genre. When well-planned and well-run, these events are a total blast. Everyone attending has the same goals:
1. Meet their favorite author, and
2. get to know new authors.
It's not hard; we recommend each other all the time. "You like mine? Then you'll like Author Name's as well!"
These events can be massive, like the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention featuring hundreds of authors and twice as many attendees, or cozy and intimate like my Arizona Dreamin' with only 21 authors and 140 attendee spots for 2014. Choose what fits you as a person, and jump in.
Can't travel? Every day an author is holding a book signing somewhere. And they are not always held in bookstores!
A great place to start looking is at the national website for your favorite genre. Romance Writers of America's website lists all the local chapters. Find the one closest to you and check their website. Email the contact name and ask if any book events or signings are planned.
You might be surprised ~ for example, the city of Glendale, AZ holds a Chocolate Affaire every year, and includes a big tent of romance authors who are pitching, selling, and signing their books. Who knew? Just because the event isn't centered on authors, doesn't necessarily mean there are none there.
And of course an event like the enormous Tucson Festival of Books is a no-brainer.
Use your social media. Post on Facebook that you are looking to meet authors who write the genre you love. I'm guessing you'll get some hits ~ along with a friend to go with you!
Then when you do go, listen to how the author talks about their books. Are they excited? Can they speak succinctly and clearly about their stories? Pick up a book and read the first page. Then read a random page somewhere inside. Is the book well-written? Does it grab you?
If the author is doing a reading, that's even better. Sometimes hearing how the characters sound in the author's mind can round out the words in a way that silent reading cannot.
As a reader, please don't be shy. We authors would love to meet you and have a chance to introduce you to our favorite characters because we love them intimately. You never know, they might become your new favorites as well!