Discussion post: What’s the best source to find great books to read – and how does that compare to the most popular ways to market a novel?
I did a poll over on Twitter last week because I was thinking about where I get my reading recommendations from (out of the popular spaces.)
I have never done a poll on twitter, but have participated in many and I thought it would be a great resource to get large numbers of participants to vote and get some balanced results. But I guess I grossly underrated my reach and willingness for people to simply click on a choice. (Girl, you thought you were popular!) Because it shows I only reached 52 people and only 2 voted. I did get a written response which was also book blogs so I think this twitter poll experiment was a massive fail. Maybe I should save face and blame it on the algorithm? A pox on you interwebs!!
In truth, my personal book recommendations most likely come from everywhere. I never use just one source, but the majority of recommendations come from book bloggers. Then, it’s depending on where I’m spending my time…
It could be catching up with friends. It could be chatting in book club. It could be attending a Con or writerly event. Or just browsing an online bookstore.
After the fail of the twitter poll I did the leg work myself hitting up people I’ve connected with on all of my socials. I asked colleagues and students, friends and family.
I guess this kind of information could be real handy for anyone wanting to market a novel – they’d know where to spend their marketing dollars. (For readers like me.) But this analysis, like reading tastes, is subjective. It’s through the lens of my demographic and those I’ve connected with over social media… so again the results are skewed.
The only reason I am discussing this topic is when I was thinking about how my reading habits have changed over the years in my last discussion post, and how much of it relies on having certain types of books available for me to purchase, the same goes for how I was recommended books.
It makes me cringe saying this, but in my teen years the internet was not a thing. The only way I’d get a book recommendation was either from a friend at school, or from browsing bookstores and libraries and spending the time to read book blurbs to see what interested me. Maybe I’d read an article in the newspaper or magazine (or occasional in-flight magazine,) but that was pretty much it.
In the last 10-15 years with the explosion of social media, online stores, and blogs, nearly all of my recommendations have come from online. I read reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, I follow copious book bloggers, I peruse top 100 lists, New Release lists, I chat in online book clubs, connect with authors and other readers on social media. More so since I moved to a remote location from the city.
Juxtapose that with how authors and publishers market their books… I have never bought a book from an ad on social media at any time. Ever. I hear all this talk that authors must buy paid ads to help market their book, but my behaviour in getting book recommendations makes that argument moot. Word of mouth is still the biggest way I get my recommendations – from sources I trust and know have similar tastes to my own. I don’t get influenced by pretty Instagram pictures and I’m not on TikTok to understand all the BookTok craze. Plus, I like to research the books I’m purchasing so that they are genuinely something I’m interested in reading rather than follow a popular hyped craze.
Am I missing out on something – is BookTok any good? With all the governmental bans on that platform I’m unsure that it will last too much longer.
I was getting some great reviews from YouTube about ten years ago, but the number of book reviewers on that platform has decreased: and most of them tend to review popular new releases to make sure they get the clicks and views (it is a business for the majority of content creators at the end of the day) so I wasn’t really discovering many new books.
I get emailed directly often with authors and publishers offering a free ebook in return for a review – but pretty much all of those offers have been for books that don’t even match my interests. It’s like the sender truly didn’t read any of my previous reviews or glance at any part of my blog. It feels disingenuous. Like they are not really wanting to build a reader/reviewer relationship. If an author invested the time to do that properly, I’d shout their praises from the roof tops.
Going back to authors using paid ads, Instagram and such – although they don’t directly influence me to buy a book, if I later read a review about it, it does help with brand recognition. I’d seen the book about before, so will take the time to read the review to see if it is any good. But again, it has to be from a trusted source.
Does anyone check out the ‘Recommendations’ tab on Goodreads, or scroll through recommended books on Amazon? I take a peek every now and then.
It’s becoming less available to me here, but when I get into the shopping centre in town and they have those pop-up stores with fire sales on books I will always wander through and hardly ever leave without purchasing something. It’s not necessarily a recommendation, again it’s picking things up and reading blurbs to see if the novel sounds interesting. Blurbs are by far the most important tool in recommending me a book.
So at the end of the day the place I get most of my recommendations from is other book bloggers, followed by reading blurbs while browsing bookstores (either physical stores or online.) All the other social media advertising only influences me with brand recognition – not in actually recommending me a novel. From canvasing the pool of participants that I reached out to, most said they get recommendations from reading my posts – they don’t know anyone who’s as obsessed with reading and reviewing as much as me. The other source was from emails sent out by Amazon, either from their followed authors or suggested reading on their e-reader device. And the reasons because of this was that they are time poor and tend to stick to reading similar types of novels. The third source was from magazine articles and reviews when certain book clubs of reading lists are showcased.
When I asked about things like recommendations from TikTok, YouTube, Instagram etc. most of those I approached did not realise there was a presence around literature on the platforms, or didn’t place much credence in those recommendations. Like it wasn’t anything serious. I did try to canvas a wide age and gender range and cover readers’ interests of a wide selection of genres. I only got a sample size of just under 500, so not so large.
What about you? What are the best sources for reading recommendations?
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