Sci-fi and fantasy books for all readers aged 9 and up

Keith Robinson is the author of the Island of Fog fantasy series containing magic and creatures from myth and legend. The author also has other sci-fi and fantasy work in the pipeline. Be sure to subscribe to his blog, 'like' him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter to keep up to date with forthcoming releases.

How do most readers find good new books to read?

Posted on April 22, 2016 (Subscribe to Blog)

As an author, I have a few choices to make when publishing each new book, such as which two categories to choose, which seven keywords or key phrases are most useful, and how keyword-rich the title and synopsis should be. All these factors supposedly help readers find my books.

But do they? How do most readers actually find books to read? How do YOU find books?

Let's assume you primarily read Kindle books. What's the single most likely way you'll find/choose your next read? I know some people will start with a free book, and if they like it, they'll buy the rest in the series. Others go by recommendations regardless of cost. Or you might keep seeing a book cover pop up everywhere to the point that you have to go check it out.

Do you judge books by their covers? Or do you go on recommendations and reviews regardless of whether you like the cover or not? Or a bit of both?

When it comes to reviews, how many is an ideal minimum? Are you suspicious when there are only glowing 5-star reviews? How much does the "verified Amazon sale" stamp mean to you?

Do you ever search for new books by typing in keywords or phrases like "manticore" or "fantasy adventure for preteens" and so on? Or do you prefer to browse categories? And if you browse categories, how deep do you drill? Some of those categories go on forever!

Whenever you search by keyword, do you search directly on Amazon, or do you search on Google and typically end up on Amazon? Do you ever check out the author's other work before making a decision? How important is an author website to you?

Lots of questions here, but I'd love to know how YOU go about finding that perfect book – the methods you employ vs. things you avoid and so on.

Thanks in advance for your input!

Comment by ANONYMOUS on Friday, April 22, 2016...

When I pick new books, most of the time I go to the library and then books that have intresting titles/blurbs or front cover pictures, I flick threw them and if I think the book seems good I take it out. Then depending on if I enjoy the book or not I go online and look at the author's other books. I started reading the island of fog series after seeing the link on the Enid Blyton site and then seeing a book in the library titled 'the shapeshifters' and after reading that tried the first island of fog and now I'm hooked!

Comment by LYRA on Friday, April 22, 2016...

I got into the Island of Fog series because, well, the first book was free. I think it showed up in a list of free YA books, or something like that. However, it's a good strategy, because I was completely hooked, and bought the next six in rapid succession.

When I choose books, I usually pick up titles that I've heard a lot about. I don't usually pick up random books off of the library shelf, but I'll read a book I've never heard of if it's a gift. I guess there's lots of ways good books can come into my life...

Comment by BRIAN B. on Friday, April 22, 2016...

Lots of questions! I generally go to brick and mortar stores, picking out candidates by cover and title on the misc shelves, staff picks, bestseller stickers etc. Then I'll flip through and read a few pages and if the style appeals, shortlist it for possible purchase.

Online, I actually find the cover thumbnails too small so browsing by cover is less attractive. (But I will use the look inside function on Amazon to research writing sometimes.)

I do like Goodreads and friends' recommendations. (I have another account apart from my author one.) Free books have no influence on my choices - life is too short!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Saturday, April 23, 2016...

Thank you!

As it happens, I had a problem sending notifications for this post. I sent it twice, and both times the vast majority of the recipients never received the email. Maybe more replies to this post will come in later when I've figured out what's going wrong with my outgoing email. :-(

Comment by DONNA C on Tuesday, April 26, 2016...

Hmmmm... It seems I either don't get your notifications or I get 3 of them in a few minutes time. Go figure. LOL - I did not receive this from you, but the way I found out about this was because I got my goodreads notification from "New Updates From Authors I Follow." I don't go to brick and mortar stores or libraries anymore. I only do ebooks now, because of an eye problem that makes even large print books tough to read. Eight years ago I became disabled and couldn't work anymore, so my income dropped to living off of my Social Security disability check only. Thus the reason for not buying books anymore, along with my eye sight, and well, that left the library out as an option. With all that being said, I get about 40% of my books from Amazons top 100 free ebooks by the 3 genre categories I like to read, but usually I only view the top 20 books though. If I like the first book and it is a series, I will usually buy the rest of the ebooks in the series, and I will then give their other books a try as well, if money permits. In determining what books I pick out, I am definitely a covers kind of girl. If the cover catches my eye I stop and read the title, then if the title catches my interest, I will read the blurb about the book. Then I grab the book and either start reading right away, or continue looking through the top 20 of the top 100 free. I found out about you right after you had finished writing the second Island of Fog book. I can't remember who, but someone I was friends with had linked your website and I just happened to see it. I clicked on the link and read your then new website about the start of your Island of Fog series. I went to Amazon and got it for free and fell in love with them all. So, I immediately bought book 2 and then stalked your website, and waited until each new book came out and bought them as they came out all the way until the end of the series. I have also picked up or purchased all of your books for free or .99 cent specials so far too, but have not started reading them just yet. I imagine, if I like them though, I would purchase the rest of the series. But also, I have added the rest to my wishlist in hopes that they go on sale or are offered for free occasionally. I do this with ALL of the authors I like now. This last part would probably not be such an issue with me if I did not have such a limited income. I am one of those people that, while raising my 3 kids as a single parent, did not think I could afford to put money back into a retirement plan, and kept thinking, I will when they get older. BUT, no one expects to become disabled in their very early 40's and not be able to work anymore. Sometimes I canít even .99 cents. Boy, had I known then what I know now...

But, back to how I get books to read. I also look at the recommended for you on Amazon, and from what Amazon emails me in their newsletters. I would guess I get 10% that way? I get probably 40% from facebook groups for indie authors or through stuff the authors link. The additional 10% come from recommendations from mostly indie authors websites, recommendations, their what Iím reading now, etc.

Reviews play a pretty important part once I have found books via the above ways. If there are no reviews I usually wonít even pick it out to see about it. The ARC reviews are pretty easy to pick out, and although I donít put a ton of weight into them, I certainly judge itís contents by them. 50+ reviews is usually the ďmagicĒ number for me if it goes into my ecart for review or not at all, although that is not a firm rule.

OK, enough, although I could write a lot more. I hope all of this helps!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Wednesday, April 27, 2016...

Wow! Thank you, Donna! All VERY interesting and useful.

I admit I don't do sales very often at all, partly because it's such a pain to change all the prices on every platform, and then back again, and promote the sale and everything else... I'm just not very good at the marketing thing! Plus, two of my Book 1s are permafree, and I don't see a whole lot of point in putting, say, Book 3 of any series on sale. By the way, Unicorn Hunters (Book 1 of the new Legacies series) is $3.99 at the moment, but it will likely be made free after I've published Books 2 and 3. There's no sense in giving away a book unless there are at least a couple more behind it that will earn money. That's always been my strategy.

I'm sorry you're getting three email notifications. I still don't understand why that would be so. But this last post had a problem I've never seen before, which meant that many of the notifications never went out at all. I tried twice, once around 4:30 PM, and again four hours later. I suspect you missed out both times, while others would have received it twice. But I think this is a separate problem to what you're seeing; you're normally getting three emails at once! Anyone else having this problem?

Thanks again, Donna — much appreciated.

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