CELEBRATING What’s New In Publishing

12-15-18 – Will Dages, Findaway Voices: What’s New in Audio Books in 2019

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How To Use Reviews to Find New Authors

By Maggie Faire / Maggie Jaimeson

We all have our favorite authors. You know the one’s I mean, the autobuys, the one that is doing a series you want to be sure to be first in your group to read the next book.  But what do you do when you have reading time and your favorite authors have nothing new ready for you?

That’s when you go surfing Amazon, B&N, Kobo or your local bookstore site.  Or maybe you are a GoodReads member. But with over a million books or more available, how do you possibly find something that is special? Here are some tricks I use and I hope will work for you. 

Step 1 – Search by Genre

In GoodReads go to Listopia and look at their genre lists.  These are lists members vote on and they change frequently. There is even a list called “Books I Never Intend to Read.” 

On all of the online book sites you have the option to also search by genre.  On Amazon and B&N, you can type the genre into the search window. On Kobo, on the left side they have a menu labeled “categories” where you can narrow your search.  On Amazon and Kobo, you also have the option of sorting.  I like to sort by “newest to oldest” or “by price.”

Without any sorting, each vendor has a slightly different take on what you get. The Amazon default is price, starting with the free books in that genre first. Everyone else is bestsellers first. So, if you are truly looking for a new author, you want to sort.

Step 2 – Click on the reviews

Whether a book has hundreds of reviews or only a few it is important to evaluate them and make a decision on how the review relates to your specific tastes.  The first thing I do is to read a five star review AND to read a lower review like a two or three star.  Personally, I don’t bother with one star reviews (unless there are a lot of them) because I find those are usually someone who didn’t like the title, the length of the book, or it wasn’t the genre they wanted. 

As I read the reviews I ask myself if what the reviewer likes or doesn’t like match me. For example, if the reviewer says I LOVE a book where the heroine has to choose between two guys, then I know I may not like it. I tend to like books where there is a clear choice early on.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, it’s just not my taste.  By the same token, if a reviewer gave a book a lower rating because they are tired of all the heroes and heroines being beautiful, blonde, and with blue eyes I might also discount that review. I’m a brunette and I like to read about brunettes. But that doesn’t mean I would be upset with a blonde heroine. 

Evaluate several reviews and see if there are agreements between many reviewers. If the majority of reviews are saying this book is a page turner, no matter what the rating, and you love books where the tension is high and you keep turning pages then you may want to give it a try.  If most of the reviewers are saying the characters were boring, or the plot moved to slow, or I had a hard time finishing the book, you probably want to give it a pass. 

Step 3 – Take a chance 

It’s hard to spend your money on a new author. However, for under $5 you can usually find a good ebook to try.  If you like the reviews, but $5 is still too much for you to spend on an unknown author, see if your library has a copy to lend you.  Most libraries now lend ebooks, as well as paper books. 

Enjoy finding new authors to love and sharing them with your friends and family.

About Maggie

Maggie has been writing and publishing for over 30 years.  She began publishing short stories in romance and science fiction magazines and anthologies in the 1980s. She then spent several years writing non-fiction articles and books about technology and learning. She has four textbooks still being used by college students around the world. Now she writes novels under two pseudonyms: Maggie Faire is for her YA Fantasy novels and Maggie Jaimeson is for her Adult Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Women’s Fiction.  You can find all her social media contacts on her websites. 

You can find Maggie’s books available in both ebooks and paperbacks at most vendors and booksellers around the world.



Paty Jager said...

Maggie, Good suggestions for finding new authors! I like mysteries and have found several through free books that I now auto buy. But I don't look at reviews. I just checkout the cover and read the blurb and excerpt if available and then I decide if I want to buy it.

Diana Mcc. said...

I don't read reviews unless it is an author I've never read. Then I'll read a few of the four or five star reviews and a couple of the two or threes. I never pay more than 4.99 for an e-book. If I'm buying a big name, not gonna pay $7.99 or higher for an e-book. I'll buy a hard copy so my mom can read it too. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paty and Diana. Paty, you make a good point about downloading free books or on sale books to get introduced to a new author.

Diana, interesting comment about your pricing decisions. I understand the not paying more than $7.99 for a ebook. I'm in the same boat. But, I will pay up to that both for midlist authors and big name authors. I've found a lot of good books in the $5.99 and $6.99 range, which is the average price point for most traditionally published novels and some indies. If I hadn't tried them, I would have missed out on a great new author.

I agree about not reading reviews unless you don't know the author. Because I like to trly new authors, I'm always reading reviews. :)

Diana Mcc. said...

I guess I'm what some people call a hybred-book buyer. I buy 85% of books from the book store. 15% as e books.I only read e books while on the treadmill and bike at the gym. So generally I don't read reviews before I buy. The higher priced books, I purchase through the book store because if I'm paying that much money I want my mom, who lives with us, and my sister to be able to read the book too. That way I feel I get my moneys worth.

Diana Mcc. said...

I just want to add, that my 87 year old mom won't use an e reader.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks for the great advice about using customer reviews to help find great new authors, Maggie. Your method makes sense.

I've read some of the reviews you've written and found them really useful.

Shobhan Bantwal said...

I rarely read reviews but this post makes me think seriously about reading them and finding some great authors. Thanks for a good post.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Maggie,

Thanks for joining us and sharing your ideas on finding new authors through reviews.

When Borders was around, I used to search for debut authors and found several who I still read. Now that my book store options are limited and I'm buying e-books, my strategy needs to change.

My biggest problem is I basically don't like to click around on the internet or the e-book stores. Something I'm working on but still have a ways to go before I do general searches for e-books. (Right now my e-books are either by authors I know or my auto-buy ones).