How Do Readers Select Science Fiction?


Last week I selected five science fiction/ fantasy novels to read for 2014, and this week I’m adding five more. I talked about how readers decide on what they read. 1. Word of mouth  2. A favorite author  3. Lists  4.Covers and blurbs 5. Subject matter or genre

Another criteria for choosing a book is price, particularly if the author is unknown. Because I read a lot, the cost of buying books adds up fast. But new websites are cropping up and new strategies are appearing that entice a reader to read the first book in a series at a low cost or free, in hopes the reader will follow on with the rest of the author’s books.

Sort of like a lost leader in a retail store.

Amazon offers its KDP Select program. For three months, the author’s novel is listed exclusively on Amazon and nine days during that time the author can offer the book free. What nine days the free offer stands is up to the author. The book is also listed in the one book a month free for Prime, but the author still gets his royalties if selected by a Prime Member. Sweet.

Reported results came in strong early on. Downloads of the free books were heavy and often translated into more sales on other books by that author.

Now other websites are offering free or reduced price books. Bookbub is one site that is currently popular and my first selection is a free download from that site.

Human SisterHuman Sister by Jim Bainbridge had an interesting blurb, so I thought to try it.

I had nothing to lose.

A quick note: Bookbub is expensive for an author to list on and they are becoming very selective on what books they choose to offer. However, it’s free for the reader and many say it’s worth it, both as an author and reader.

Another free source is the library. I often prowl the new books section and that’s where I found The One-Eyed Man by one of my favorite authors, L.E. Modesitte, Jr. This was a two reason selection…both price and favorite author.The One-Eyed Man

A second factor for selecting a book is a review request. Because my blog reviews science fiction, frequently I’ll receive a request to review a new author’s book. What I finally pick often is random and whimsical. So please don’t be hurt if I don’t get around to yours. Other factors may have trumped the choice and yours may be perfectly wonderful. However, sometimes the request isn’t in my genre (yes, seriously) and sometimes it’s not what I read. (Horror, demons, anthologies YA…etc.) Although, as you know, I often stray off the path if the story sounds compelling, or the author is particularly interesting or charming.

Strings on a Shadow PuppetTherefore, Strings of a Shadow Puppet is my next choice.  The book was pitched as a science fiction spy thriller by a local Portland author. I am a John Carre fan and like spy novels, although I never would admit to it in this blog. So, I thought to select this title. Besides, the author was very nice and had no problem waiting until after the holidays to be reviewed, and I appreciated his courtesy.

I put Abaddon’s Gate on my list because it was on several lists of must reads and in that line of books Amazon puts on the front page as suggestions you might like. Also, Goodreads had it on their popular science fiction for 2013.

A quick word on Goodreads. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a great website where authors can list their books. Even more so, it’s a site for readers. Word of mouth doesn’t need to be person to person in this age of social media and Goodreads abounds with readers telling other readers what they recommend and what they like. There are hundreds of threads that cover every genre of book and I am signed up to several that focus on science fiction.Abaddon's Gate

Also, Goodreads has a section where authors offer a given number of their books (paperback) free. It’s a giveaway that readers sign up for and often large number of readers will sign up for an author’s book. I had 1500 sign up for a copy of Caught in Time, even though I only offered three free. Goodreads then selects who wins and I get their address so I can mail the books. I felt it was good exposure for the first in my series. Hopefully, readers will like it and go on to buy and read the rest. (See at right)

Anyway, when I went to read the blurb for Abaddon’s Gate, I found out it was the third in a series.(The Expanse) Sigh..BUT… James Corey is a pen name for Daniel Abramson, an author I have read and liked. So, what to do?

Further investigation revealed positive reviews for Leviathan Wakes, the first book of the series, so I thought to read that first instead. Changed my mind.

Leviathan WakesSometimes the reader can start with one book idea and developing factors cause him or her to switch titles. The summary sounded like a popular military space opera that I could enjoy over several books, and I wanted to start with the first in the series.

I had several other books on my list until I attended my writers’ group. Five very strong writers get together every two weeks and critique each other’s writing and discuss books and writing. Once again, word of mouth influenced me as Diana Peach expounded on the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Diana leans toward fantasy, but I recognized Joe Abercrombie’s name as a front runner in Indie publishing. He’d done a lot at the start to promote self publishing and it was time to support him. Besides, Diana was compelling in her enthusiasm for the series.First Law Trilogy

So that’s it for now. I have no order in which I plan to read these. That will depend on how accessible they are…and that is my final factor for what I select. Are they easy to get a hold of?

  1. Human Sister Jim Bainbridge.
  2. Strings on a Shadow Puppet T.L. Evans
  3. Leviathan Wakes James Corey
  4. The One-Eyed Man L.E. Modesitte
  5. First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

Happy New Year and happy reading.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, military science fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, space travel, terra forming, Uncategorized

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