Shop Talk: The Great Justin Bieber and Twilight Experiment (and W*n)

[First, I’m talking about the Loup-Garou and Sentinels over at the Unabridged Bookshelf today, and giving away books or a swag bag, so head over!]

Now, say what? What’s this about Justin Bieber? I’m experimenting on him? Turning him into Dr. Frankenbieber? Putting him in a piece of fanfic where he comes between Edward and Bella? Setting up a Bieber versus Jacob smackdown?
No, no. It’s even more onerous than that.

The buzzword in publishing these days is “discoverability.” How can a new author get “discovered” amid all the bazillion new releases coming from big publishers, small presses, indies?
No one has the answer; certainly not me. I wish I did. As a new author (yeah, it seems like I’ve been around forever but my first book only came out a year ago), it’s frustrating to try and figure out how to break through the chaos and noise of the Internet and let people who might enjoy my books know they exist? And once they know the books exist, how does one get them to read?

As a reader, how do you find out about new authors? What is the thing that makes you go from thinking “Hm, that sounds interesting. I’ll have to check that out after the series is finished or when it goes on sale at Amazon for 99 cents or when I win a free copy online” to, instead, thinking, “I’m gonna buy that now”?
And how does Justin Bieber fit into this scenario? Or Twilight?
A few weeks ago, I met a marketing dude all excited about the secret he’d said he’d found to search engine optimization, or SEO. If we could put certain words in the titles of our posts, he said, people searching for that word in Google or Bing would flock to our blogs, see our books, and run out and buy copies. “Put Justin Bieber’s name in your blog title and the hits to your blog page will soar!” he preached.
Um, but there’s a problem. I don’t write books about Justin Bieber, or even characters who listen to Justin Bieber. I wouldn’t recognize a Biebertune if it bit me on the backside. I mean, what’s the point in collecting blog hits if the people realize within two seconds that there’s no real Bieberlove going on here and they bounce off to another website? I think that’s the type of behavior that gives marketing a bad name. I was annoyed. I tuned Mr. Marketer out.
However, I have learned, in the course of this blog post, that I enjoy making up Bieberlicious new words—LOL. And yeah, I put his name in my title today as an experiment to see how my blog hits were impacted. I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, the search for how to find readers continues. I have the third book in my Sentinels series coming up and would like to see this story through to its completion, but that will depend on how the book sells. It’s an art, this writing thing, but it’s also a business. It once again comes back to discoverability.
So some questions for you as readers:
n      How do you find new books?
n      What convinces you to take a chance on a new author?
n      Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you?
n      Do  you pay attention to ads on Goodreads or Facebook?
n      Which book-review sites do you tend to gravitate toward?
n      How much does book price impact your decision-making?
As a reader myself, I’ll say I find new authors through doing my Fiction Affliction columns for and my Monday Reader’s Choice contests here for Preternatura, so I’m not a good test case. I only read reviews if I’m on the fence about something. I occasionally click on FB ads but almost never on Goodreads ads. I usually keep an eye on the blogs listed on my blogroll (right column). I don’t consider book cost unless it’s extraordinarily high; I’ve been burned so many times on free/cheap books that I tend to treat them with the same rigor as a $10 book.
How about you? I’ll choose from among today’s comments for my regular Shop Talk $10 gift card to the book retailer of choice! Let’s talk about discovery!

37 thoughts on “Shop Talk: The Great Justin Bieber and Twilight Experiment (and W*n)

  1. I tend to lean toward the opinions of writers I already enjoy. The tend to be small time or “indie” writers, I guess, and most of them like things similar to what they themselves write.

  2. Making the jump from “I’ll buy his/her book at 99 cents or enter a giveaway” to an autobuy is difficult. I’m willing to read a lot of books, but only a few authors become autobuys. Usually their books have really impressed me, which is not easy. I can really like a book, but, because of my unfortunately limited book buying budget, it’s hard to guarantee that I’ll buy the next book by the author unless I’m really invested in the characters. That said, if I love the book, I’ll go back and stock up on the author’s backlist.

    I tend to try new authors when their books are on sale. I read a LOT of blogs and I’ll check reviews on Goodreads (not Amazon as much), but I’ll pretty much only buy the book if select reviewers highly recommend it.

    • I don’t have many autobuys myself, Rebe. As you say, $$ is a factor. I do have a few authors who have reached that status, and in thinking back, I’m pretty sure most of them I found by reading a review that made me want to give it a try. And I discovered others (the Dresden series and the Mercy Thompson series) when I found omnibus editions containing two or three books together at a discount.

  3. usually find new book from fb when i find new author or recommen from friend and yes, sometimes i posted review on Goodreads and I’m happy I finally can post review on Amazon and just posted 13 reviews yay :). Trustly now I stop buying book for a moment, I decide to read book that I won, I think I’m lucky enough within 1.5 year I can win about 150 books (print) and some in ebook version and still read only 30% from the book I won. I’m so sad actually because I think about how cost the author who has sent the book to me. So I decide to stop buying book and read book I won and trying to post review.

    • Ah….I have made that decision myself, Eli–except it never works for me. I’ll decide I’m not going to buy anything new until I get caught up with my TBR mountain, and then something will come along that I think I MUST read. (Plus, the mountain has gotten so huge I might never buy another book 🙂

  4. I find most new to me authors via blogs I follow. When a cover or cover story sounds really interesting the book goes on my wishlist. If it somehow hits the right note I buy it right away. But as I’m a fickle piggy I can’t tell you when and why that happens. Probably something Togo with zombies :-p

  5. I find out about a lot of new authors through blogs. But I also look through the new book shelves at my local library and pick up anything that catches my eye. I’m more likely to try a new author if I can read a sample of their writing first – either in the bookstore or a sample chapter online.

    • I love sample chapters, too. That’s one of the things I really like about the Kindle–I can download some sample chapters and get a taste for the author’s voice before deciding whether or not to bite. Voice is really important…and grammar/punctuation 🙂 (Spoken like a true copyeditor.)

  6. find new authors/books on Goodreads/Amazon

    sometimes look at reviews to see if the book has cheating or ends on a cliffhanger

    • I also don’t like books that end on huge cliffhangers (now a few within the book are good things)–there was one YA book whose name I won’t mention that I literally threw across the room because of the cliffhanger ending. And didn’t read the sequel 🙂

  7. Oh many questions today, but I confess I’m curious about your little test for your stats lol.

    How do you find new books? I think I mostly find them blog other blogs or goodreads. It’s terrible because we want to so many books! But there are other ways, like friends, or publicist who sends me books without I know what it is. So many new books like that!

    What convinces you to take a chance on a new author? It’s not that difficult if I love a cover or if I love a synopsis, or even a review. I really love to discover new authors and I have sometimes a lot of wonderful surprises. I confess though that if the book is expensive I’ll surely discover it later…

    Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you? I think so. Maybe not on amazon because I never read them. Really, NEVER!!! I don’t know why but if I go on amazon it’s because I’m already planning to buy the book, not the reviews. But I like goodreads for that, well mainly my friends reviews because I know we can have the same taste and they’ll really say what they think about the book I’m curious about. It’s always perfect!

    Do you pay attention to ads on Goodreads or Facebook? It think it depends as well, what ads where and by whom.

    Which book-review sites do you tend to gravitate toward? My friends book blogs. I love them and they have a wonderful taste in books!

    How much does book price impact your decision-making? French books can be very expensive, so it’s difficult for some. In English you have a little more of little format, so it’s OK. But I confess I need to really love a book/author to buy one after 10 euros. Because I think it’s already expensive but when it’s 20 euros well I usually don’t buy.

    • Great answers, Melliane! Funny about the Amazon reviews. I don’t read them either (except for my own–can’t help myself), but they’re important to authors because Amazon uses the number of good reviews to decide which books to promote. So leave reviews, folks, even if you don’t read them, just to help the authors you like 🙂

      Ten euros, which is about $12-13, is about my upper limit as well unless it’s something I just can’t live without. Unfortunately, the authors don’t have a say in the prices.

    • thanks I’ll try to post more there… I confess I only do it when asked.

      I know… otherwise I wait to have them used somewhere when expensive, or one from time to time, or for birthdays. But well it’s rare.

  8. How do you find new books? * primarily through blog reviews and Amazon reqs
    What convinces you to take a chance on a new author? *If I like the blurb and cover and it’s decently priced
    Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you? *yes and no. If it’s a glowing reviewa on a blog I usually go and find the most negative on GR/Amazon and read those to balance them out.
    Do you pay attention to ads on Goodreads or Facebook? *no… I completely turn those out
    Which book-review sites do you tend to gravitate toward? *I visit a lot of personal, smaller blogs and the usual “big Names”
    How much does book price impact your decision-making? *very… I won’t buy a kindle book unless it’s under $5 and even then my mean price is $1.99. If it’s a book that I have to have and am willing to pay full price for, it’ll be paperback

    • The blurbs are the things that usually pull me in as well, Erin. The only time I go looking at reviews is if I’m on the fence about a book after I’ve read it–sometimes I’ll go and read the positive and negative ones just to see if my reactions are in tune with other readers’.

      Kindle books are a mixed bag. I have been so badly burned by 99-cent and $1.99 books that really shouldn’t have been published that I won’t buy them anymore–won’t even download a freebie–unless it’s from a publisher or author I’ve heard of. I’m sure I’m missing a lot of indies that are professionally edited but so be it. Also, remember, the authors can’t help what price the publishers put on the ebooks but they (we) are the ones hurt when people think they aren’t worth buying. I do understand it from a reader’s POV, so I don’t know what the answer is.

  9. How i discover new authors mostly thanks to blog review and recommendation from other bloggers.

    when i come to a new one and i’m unsure i will check teh review on goodread ( more than on amazon) but it’s only teh second step when the interest is already there and i guess it can influence me ( not the stars the reviews give but what it said about the book in teh review)

    what make me buy teh book… that’s harder because i can’t buy online so i need to wait and that can make me think again my decision sometimes… but one thing i’ve discovered that play a big part in my decision is the author itself. Often when i check on goodread i will check the author’s page to see the link to his/her blog and i will have a look….if he/she is friendly and open it means a lot to me. i can also have an idea by some interviews
    now it’s true also i will perhaps feel better to get the first book as a prize, free on smashword to give it a try but then when i love ( even like) i give automatically a try to the next one or the rest of teh series it’s only if i really detested the book number 1 that i won’t continue, if i liked it i will give a try to teh next because it can become better

    Like melliane the price can influence me when it’s really too high ( like the 24dollars for teh paperback^^ ( thankfully it went dowxn to 11 so i got it on his way now)) but what it’s great with books written in english is teh diversity of format to find the one we can afford.
    French often exist in only one format and they are expensive ( more in belgium than in france too ex a book at 17euro in france could be at 22 in belgium without trouble; only 2editor keep teh same price in both countries)so several series i decided to read them in english directly ( when i can get all the books in english for the price of one book in french the decision is easy)

    However i’m also a loyal reader so when i love an author i follow him/her and even with teh different edition ( the english and the french oen or the Usa and the UK one)

    • Yikes, that $24 for a paperback was INSANE. Totally crazy. I have gotten very picky about what hardbacks I buy because of cost, and admit that I had really mixed feelings when River Road came out in hardcover. On the one hand, it feels like a “real” book so, cool! On the other hand, it was expensive, and I knew sales would suffer from it. I’m glad it’s finally coming out in paperback in a few weeks.

  10. I look at book blogs I follow for their reviews and also their Waiting for Wednesday memes. If I know I have the same taste as the blogger, I usually will enjoy their picks!

    Also, I look at my Amazon recommendations as well as my Goodreads recommendations!

    leannessf at gmail dot com

    • Thanks, Leanne! Yes, good point. Some of the blog memes are good ways to find out what’s coming up. The WoWs are ones I’ll usually go and read as well.

  11. I’m on a diet.. My tbr has grown so big, i’m not even sure i can finish them.
    But, since i have limited book budget, price do influence my decission on which book to buy. And, reviews on the blogs that i followed. I rarely pay attention on goodreads, amazon and facebook ads, but i usually reads review on blogs.

    • I know what you mean! My TBR piles are ridiculous and I know I’ll never get them read…which is why I like to give them away! So I can add to everyone else’s TBR piles 🙂

  12. I also check out new books through different blog sites. Especially if several different blog sites have made some high recommendations. I use my library a lot. I first read Royal Street because it was in the hot reads new book shelf and the cover and blurb caught my eye. I loved it and asked the library to purchase River Road and your Susannah Sandlin books and they did. I will try a new author through a library loan first and may end up purchasing books after that. My TBR pile both print and digital is ridiculous! But it is like having your pantry stocked-it gives me great pleasure and comfort. Sometimes I will look at th Amazon recommendations based on prior purchases. And of course, I spread the word amongst my book buddies too! Don’t use Facebook or Twitter.

    • I love that you found my books through your library, Liz! (And thanks for convincing them to buy the others 🙂 ) I practically LIVED in my library when I was growing up, and love them.

  13. I find new books by reading book blogs, checking out new releases on Amazon, and hearing about them via author’s newsletters, etc. If I’m not sure about a book, I’ll read reviews, but most of the time I go with what sounds good to me. I have a whole bunch of book blogs that I read, but I don’t always read the reviews, just if it’s a book I’m not sure about. I do love your Monday Reader’s Choice, I usually see a few new books I hadn’t heard about elsewhere. The book price matters, but if it’s something I really want to read, I’m going to get it eventually. Although if it’s hardback, I’ll probably wait and see if I can get it in paperback at least. If I see a really great sale on Amazon, say a series backlist that I’m missing several books and the e-books are $.99, I can’t pass that up, even though I’d rather read print books.

    • Glad the Reader’s Choice helps you find some new books, Barbara! Another place to check out is It’s amazing what you can find on there, and if you get on their email list they periodically mark everything down even more. I just picked up David Moody’s Autumn series (all five books) for about $12.

  14. I totally rely on my fellow blogger friends while trying out new authors and new books. This whole thing has become so confusing! Its really hard trusting some authors who sell books at enormous prices!

    • Ah, but it gets even MORE confusing when you realize that authors, unless they’re self-published, have absolutely NO CONTROL over book prices. Those are established by the publishers without the author’s consent or control or input. So don’t distrust the author, who’s just caught in the middle. Blame the publisher 🙂

  15. How do you find new books?
    I have quite a few book review blogs in my RSS feed (including this one!) and I use those to make myself a to-read list of books that sound interesting to me based on their reviews. That list is now unfortunately huge (so many books, so little time!), but I don’t have to worry about forgetting an interesting book!

    What convinces you to take a chance on a new author?
    Reviews from people/blogs I trust, most often. I hardly ever buy a book from a new-to-me author, I will check it out from the library first. If I really liked it, I will then go buy it so I can have my own copy. Sometimes I will take a chance on a new author if it is a used or half-price book, because then the $ risk isn’t so steep.

    Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you?
    Amazon reviews, absolutely, if I am looking through the free kindle section. There are just so many stinkers in there that I have to read the reviews to see if it’s worth my time. I will sometimes read Goodreads reviews, but it’s usually the reviews of bloggers I already know and trust.

    Do you pay attention to ads on Goodreads or Facebook?
    Not in the slightest. Ugh.

    Which book-review sites do you tend to gravitate toward?
    This one, My Bookish Ways, Bastard Reviews, Staffers Musings, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Mad Hatter, and a large random assortment of YA blogs.

    How much does book price impact your decision-making?
    I will never buy a hardcover unless it is an established author I already love and is on my auto-buy list, and even then I tend to prefer to wait to buy the paperback and check out the HC from the library while I wait (I like my book series’ to match HC or PB, I’m weird). I almost never take a chance on a new author for full-price, because with as much as I read I would go broke. I take great advantage of my library, and then buy the books I like from there.

  16. *How do you find new books?
    I visit goodreads often and I follow a lot of bloggers on there. I see their wishlists and I love when I go to the book page to add it to my own wishlist that I see a list of books to the left that are recommended. Covers always catch my eye first and the blurb on the back is what hooks me. I find a lot of new books I want from blogs, goodreads and from visiting the Barnes and Nobles by my house

    *What convinces you to take a chance on a new author?
    I am always open to new authors, so all I really need is to be hooked by the blurb

    *Do reviews on goodreads or amazon influence you?
    I read reviews if I am looking into a book but they don’t influence me 100 percent. I take note of the good and bad reviews and see if there is something that stands out as something that would bother me or something I would love. It’s in the back of my head, but if I think the storyline stands out as something unique and I already have it in my head, I will buy it regardless. I am well aware that not every book is for everyone. There have been books that my friends have hated that I loved and vice versa. I try to keep that in mind

    *Do you pay attention to ads on goodreads and facebook?
    Sometimes. I try to ignore them, but sometimes something will catch my eye

    *Which review sites do you tend to gravitate towards?
    I follow a lot of blogs and I tend to keep up more with the ones that review genres I love to read. Paranormal, Young Adult are my top fav and those are the ones I visit the most.

    *How much does book price impact your decision-making?
    Actually, quite a bit. I am a stay at home mom of three and money can be tight. I tend to wait for the paperback release and skip the hardcover’s if it’s not a book I am super anxious for. If it’s a series I am totally hooked on, I will splurge on the hardcover, but most often, I wait for the paperback. I tend to be more picky on my e-books. I wont buy a e-book that I can pay the same price for in paperback

  17. How do you find new books?
    Word of mouth from friends, mostly on social media, Amazon recommendations, book blogs, publisher newsletters. I think that about covers it.

    What convinces you to take a chance on a new author?
    That’s a little difficult to quantify. Sadly, some of it is superficial. Quality cover? Even if I don’t LIKE the cover, if it seems like quality, then I know the publisher is putting money into it and they’re behind it. The book synopsis needs to interest me and hopefully there is a decent hook. Good blurbs don’t hurt, but I won’t hold the lack of against the book or author.

    Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you?
    I very rarely read the reviews, though I may glance at the overall average rating. Even this won’t matter if there isn’t a sizable number of reviews, and I’m pretty lenient here anyway.

    Do you pay attention to ads on Goodreads or Facebook?
    None at all.

    Which book-review sites do you tend to gravitate toward?
    I don’t really read any review sites unless you count book blogs. Closest thing to a review site I occasionally checkout is probably SF Signal, though they post other content, too.

    How much does book price impact your decision-making?
    Sadly, very much right now. Being in a very difficult financial situation means buying very few goodies for me. I try to keep track of all the books that have interested me by putting them on my Amazon wishlist, and then buying a couple when I can. It’s excruciating to decide which ones to purchase off the list when I can only get one or two.

  18. How do you find new books?

    I have so many authors that I already like. So I read all their new books. Plus I follow a lot of book blogs on facebook. So I can see what is new and what sounds interesting to me.

    What convinces you to take a chance on a new author?

    If it sounds like I would like it. And if others whose opinions I respect say they like it.

    Do reviews on Goodreads or Amazon influence you?

    I only read reviews on goodreads after I’ve read a book. But if I am thinking about a book then yes I will check to see how the book is doing on goodreads.

    How much does book price impact your decision-making?

    I get a lot of books from the library or netgalley. So I mostly can read what I want to read. But I find most book prices are quite high (kindle included).

  19. 1. From blogs.
    2. If their blogs are interesting or if they are highly recommended by people I trust.
    3. Yes especially the negative ones
    4. No
    5. None in particular
    6. If price is high I would not be too willing to take a chance on the book

  20. I’m incredibly curious about the Justin Bieber experiment! 😀

    My answers for most of the questions above is Goodreads! Sometimes I discover people there and later follow them on their blogs (if they are bloggers) or vice versa. It took me awhile to find readers that had similar tastes to mine but after I found them, I usually check out their reviews before checking out a book (ESPECIALLY those really hyped ones..most of the time, I don’t really *love* those hyped books.

    The book price definitely impacts my book buying habits. Being international AND a uni student, books are quite pricey for me. If not for giveaways, I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to discover a lot of books/authors.