Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How Did You Hear About the Book You're Reading?

Ladies and gents, Fall TV is back, which means you will soon be subjected to Bachelor and ANTM references and generally be made to wonder how it is that I can be a literary agent who loves Ian McEwan and Melville while also being a tad too obsessed I mean fascinated by questionable-at-best reality television. I heart Fall!

But let it not be said that I am reading less because of all the good TV that's on -- I figured the debut of "Gossip Girl" on the CW was excuse enough to read the eponymous YA novel. Have to say -- I really enjoyed it. Such attitude! Such dish! Such bad human beings! I loved it.

Meanwhile, back in book land, the little ole publishing industry often gets accused of not doing enough market research on its customers. Some people think we should be more scientific and, you know, figure out what kind of advertising works. Well! Let's change all that. This is a HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC survey of REAL READERS that will result in some NEBULOUS ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE.

So here's this week's You Tell Me: How did you decide to buy the book you're reading? Friend recommendation? Advertising? Book club? Random impulse buy? Debut CW series produced by Josh Schwartz featuring teenagers behaving very badly? (guilty - although I've been meaning to read it for a while. Which I guess is kind of worse.)

Let's show those "scientists" where they can put their "formulas." I bet they made all that stuff up anyway. Can't fool me! Quadratic formula my foot.






108 comments:

Jen said...

Hi Nathan,

I'm reading STRAY by Rachel Vincent -- she's friends with several of my blogger friends and I heard about it through them. I'm also reading LORD JOHN & THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE -- heard about that through the writer's forum I belong to, where Diana Gabaldon is also a member. And finally, REBEL ANGELS by Libba Bray. I picked up the first book during a cold walk through in the YA section at B&N -- enjoyed it, so I got the second.

What this says? Umm, not sure. (g)

Vinnie Sorce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vinnie Sorce said...

Most of what I read is from recommendations but I have discovered some wonderful things while listening to NPR as well. I discovered J.A. Jance (who I was lucky enough to meet at the Sedona library) at a garage sale. Can't afford new books... lol

When I find an author I like I stick to them. MATSUTAKE is one of my particular favorites...

Melanie Avila said...

I just started Catch-22 because it's 'one of the classics' blah blah, No marketing involved here. But, I cannot get into it. I've read about 30 pages and can't bring myself to pick it up again. Time to head back to the bookstore, where I'll grab whatever catches my eye...

Tammie said...

The last 2 books I read because they were recommended by commenters here at this blog.

But I just finished a small book in one day after seeing her on Oprah - Louder than Words by Jenny McCarthy. In all fairness I had heard about the book prior to her being on tv and would have probably picked it up anyway as I found her experience with doctors interesting - not just the autism topic.

C.J. said...

a friend's recommendation coaxed me into finding out more on wikipedia, from there i picked it up while i was at the book store, then it sat on my dinning room table for two months until a different friend recommended it and... voila!

Jena said...

I recently moved to a small town with no bookstore (the horror! the horror!) so until I make a trip to the city, I'm stuck with what's on drugstore and supermarket shelves - best I could do on my last trip was Kathy Reichs' BREAK NO BONES. Not trez faboo, but it'll do.

When I'm in the city, a friend working in an indie bookstore is a fantastic source. If he's not in, I pick up books at random in the mystery section - I go for an interesting title by an author I don't know, read the first page and a middle page, and if it grabs me, I buy.

I try to ignore cover art, blurbs, and I *never* read the back cover.

James said...

Two books right now. I like to have a novel and a non-fiction book in my bag to match the mood:

A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson - given to me by a friend

and

Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller - loved the cover, loved the ad I saw in the New Yorker, and couldn't wait to read it. Ha, I say, Ha. Never read it and had it on my bookshelf from last year's public library Big Book Sale.

Tom Burchfield said...

I'm currently reading "The Black Camel," a Charlie Chan mystery by Earl Derr Biggers. Most mystery readers should be aware of this ancient series, written in the 1920s and 1930s. My copy is a first edition in fair condition I picked up for 8 bucks at an antique store in Niles California. My collector's antennae led me to it. It's actually quite good, even though it is dated, esp. the dialogue. Chan is as witty as he is wise (and human)and the book makes many tart comments about anti-Chinese racism.

Anonymous said...

One I heard of from a blog, the other from a friend, and the last one (yes, three at the same time; different times of day, though)from a story on NPR. I buy a lot based on NPR stories.

Jeanne said...

I'm reading MIDDLESEX, which my sister recommended. Usually I go by personal recommendations or book reviews.

Linnea said...

I had nothing to read and asked my son to pick up something for me from the library. He brought me 'A Detective Under Fire' by H.R.F. Keating. I'm only a few pages into the book but am already wincing. Where are the editors! This sentence drove me crazy. 'Rain was streaming down IT, and a thin pool of IT had collected on the little strip of window-ledge at ITs foot.'
Yikes.

J M Peltier said...

I'm reading Old Man's War by John Scalzi. I heard about it mostly by word of mouth. Then came Scalzi's Campbell award.

Dave F. said...

I just finished "The Reincarnationist" and although it's an exciting story, I didn't like the ending. I found it on Amazon

And I've just started "An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England" ... The idea for which came from your blog.

sarah said...

I'm reading the new Greenspan book (quite good), and the Dick/Felix Francis book, which I'm a third into, and it's surprisingly wonderful. Koontz's The Good Guy is up next.

Scott said...

I'm reading three.

1. Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton

I had forgotten I'd ordered this book before our discussion of openings here. I saw it on Amazon and thought it looked useful.


2. III Henry VI by some dead English dude

Last year for Christmas, my wife got me a collection of Shakespeare's plays in individual hard-bound volumes. Since then, I've been working through them all, at least one a month. This is just the next one on the shelf. (And, by the way, has an opening scene that's hard to beat. When a guy with a claim to the throne shows up and sits on the king's throne and refuses to get up, demanding that the king abdicate, it kind of builds tension and makes you want to know what's going to happen.)

3. Sagen, Legenden, Geschichten aus Mittelfranken by Alfred Kriegelstein

Saw it on a shelf in Nuremberg. I had just finished another book of legends from that area and wanted more.

sarah said...

Left out the important part. The Greenspan came from my husband, the Francis from a friend's rec. I auto-buy Koontz.

Elver said...

Currently reading...

Terry Pratchett's "Fifth Elephant". Because I'm a Pratchett fan and this is was the first Discworld book I found at the store that I hadn't yet read. Originally got into Pratchett's stuff after a friend recommended his writings.

Collection of Anton Chekhov's short stories. It was like $2 at the bookstore and pretty much every short story writer has listed Chekhov as his/her major influence. I've been meaning to read his stuff.

Fareed Zakaria's "The Future of Freedom" was mentioned by a friend of mine when we were discussing politics.

Ursula K. LeGuin's "Left Hand of Darkness". Just because I wanted to get into LeGuin. And because she was mentioned many times in the writing-how-to books by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm.

And I recently finished Iain M. Banks' "Excession", because I wanted to get into Banks. Several friends have recommended his stuff.

Susan Flemming said...

I recently finished Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. It was featured in the Barnes & Noble newsletter along with a coupon for a 37% discount. The description of it intrigued me, so I picked it up the next time I went to the B&N. I loved the book.

I'm currently reading two books.

The first is Wizards, a fantasy anthology. I picked it up because I like anthologies and this one sounded interesting. I was about halfway through when my husband "stole" it from me. Now that's he's finished I can get back to reading it.

The second book I'm reading is Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers: Striving and Thriving as a Writer. This one was actually recommended by the author himself, after he came across my website while doing a search. His letter to me through my "Contact Me" page piqued my interest, so I ordered it from Amazon. I'm really enjoying reading it.

Kimber An said...

The book I'm currently reading, HANG A THOUSAND TREES WITH RIBBONS by Ann Rinaldi is a YA Historical, which I Googled, searching for the finest in YA Historicals to inspire me while I'm writing my own YA Historical.

The book before that, MASTER OF VERONA by David Blixt, was sent to me by St. Martins Press to review on my blog, Enduring Romance, which actually reviews all genres except Horror and Erotica.

I've learned tons about marketing to readers through my sister blogs. Probably the best column I've written on the subject is "How Sally Reader Overcame Her Fear of Buying New" which I posted on my Star Captains' Daughter blog May 31st of this year.

I also wrote one entitled "Wooing the Readers I know" on June 16th of this year, Star Captains' Daughter blog.

Agnieszka said...

Nathan, if I wrote in English I'd definetly query you: I'd love an agent with the same taste in televsion. =)

Anyway, I'm reading "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang because I saw it when I was surfing on LibraryThing.com and it looked interesting. Plus, the cover looks pretty.

Anonymous said...

I tend to do a lot of impulse reading. One book is from a stash I got at a used book sale, one I saw lying around at Borders, and my current audio book is by an author I always enjoy.

Scott said...

>Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers

I read that a while ago. I really enjoyed it. I should read it again. I'd definitely recommend it.

neal said...

The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. Way better than the movie. I wanted to compare them.

Anonymous said...

I am reading North and South by John Jakes. I was in the mood for a big historical saga-type book and poked around Amazon until I found that.

I would say 90% of my purchases are just random books I pick up at B&N that look good. The other 10% are recommendations but I read at least 3 books a week so I find most recommendations by friends I've already read.

urbansherpa said...

I'm currently reading GOSSIP GIRL, too. Because of the CW series and because I'm marking a YA novel that has some TV interest.

But next I want to read: GARDEN SPELLS (read about it in PW) and THE ARSONISTS GUIDE... (also PW)... and ANGELS ON SUNSET BLVD. by Melissa de la Cruz (interview on cynopsis.blogspot.com) because she's got so many really good-sounding YA books out now. Wow.

So many books... only so much time... and it's FALL (I'm a bit of a reality show junkie, too.)

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

I often find great titles while playing around on Amazon and researching books I already love to see what pops up that is similar. I also find many great reads through websites like readinggroupguides.com or from agent or author blogs.

Often I read new projects by favorite authors or what is suggested by friends, and I hate to admit it, but I'm a sucker for hype. If it interests me, I often pick up whatever is the talk of the season, and I love to read something by a first time author who makes it big. An example is Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl which I absolutely loved. I'm not sure I would have picked it up, the the original title, along with the hype, just made it something I couldn't resist.

I also enjoy perusing the shelves and front tables at bookstores, so an intriguing cover, display, title, or blurb from a favorite or well-respected author can definitely catch my eye as well. In that sense, I guess I'm saying that advertising and marketing really does work.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

My wish list (of 1300+ books) is culled mainly from Publisher's Weekly reviews. However, buzz will always catch my attention, especially if it's for a not-very-well-known author.

Christopher M. Park said...

I used to belong to various book clubs, but don't anymore. Now it's basically what I can find in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of my local bookstore, as well as whatever else strikes my eye when others recommend it. I know a lot of readers, both online and off, so I'm never hurting for recommendations in all genres. I don't know how those I get recommendations from find their books. I doubt it's from advertising, though.

Peter C O Johansson said...

Shadowfall, by James Clemens, bought on impulse when I was at the bookstore looking for coursebooks. I didn't feel like reading any of the "big names" in fantasy fiction, so I went with a name I did not recognize.

otherkatie said...

Next on my list is Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger because I fell in love with the characters on the tv show. Plus, I'm from Texas, ya'll.

Jen said...

I've been meaning to pick up Gossip Girls too, all because of the TV show. Bleh.

I'm currently reading HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynn Jones, which I heard about because of the movie they made of it.

Susan Sundwall said...

You've heard about chain smokers, well, I'm a chain reader. One right after the other. The two I'm finishing up now were on the "what's new" shelf at our local library, THE DEAD ROOM by Heather Graham and NEXT by Michael Chrichton. I frequently get recommendations from friends and just a few minutes ago ordered THE RAVEN PRINCE by Elizabeth Hoyt because someone blogged about it at Bookends. I also ordered John Grisham's latest, PLAYING FOR PIZZA. If I find an author I love, I read them to death. Elizabeth George can't write fast enough for me. I found her by accident while haunting the libary.
Oh, I'm also reading my own second mystery, over and over as I pound out each new chapter. Been there, done that have you?

Christa M. Miller said...

I found TRANSGRESSIONS on the shelf at Borders, and I picked it up because it was edited (and features a novella) by Ed McBain. A number of other authors contributed, whom I've been wanting to check out, so this book seemed a good way to do it.

Normally, though, I get recommendations from bloggers I trust, whether they're reviewers or not.

Liz said...

Just finished reading a library copy of "Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade." I keep track of Diana Gabaldon's latest books because I love her Outlander series.

The last books I purchased to read were Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series. I bought books 1-3. I read a blog she contributes to and have been impressed with her posts. The books didn't disappoint.

LD said...

I usually read books my family members send me or pick up books I've been curious about at the library. The books my family recommends are always hits, but the library picks are often misses.

RED STICK WRITER said...

A friend recommended Greg Iles' book, The Quiet Game, to me a number of years ago. After reading that one, I have read everything he has written. Only one of his books, The Footprints of God, disappointed. The rest are golden. I'm currently doing his most recent one, True Evil. His and John Grisham's interesting manner of using personally familiar venues as their backdrops inspired me to finally write a long contemplated novel.

Katrina Stonoff said...

I'm reading A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. I picked it off the shelf at my local, independent bookstore, and I'm loving it.

Usually I learn about books from friends or bloggers, or sometimes NPR.

Other Lisa said...

I'm sooo square. I get most of my recommends from book reviews (paper/magazine/online). The book I'm reading now is by an e-friend. Otherwise, my mom and several of my reading friends keep me in pages.

MaryAnnTheRest said...

I always take too many books out of the library. An attractive presentation in the library sucks me in every time. World War Z by Max Brooks was recommended to me by a friend. The other books I'm reading are Nancy Werlin's Are You Alone on Purpose? (nice library display) and a nonfiction book on ghosts (for research for my NaNoWriMo novel) that was also displayed well at the library.

Ooh, I didn't know Diana Gabaldon has a new book out ... that's an auto-read.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

THE ANDROID'S DREAM

Recommendation--though I was a bit tipsy at the time (I know, big surprise there) and I think I might've gotten the wrong book! But it's still really good.

Kris said...

I just mentally rattled off a list of recent reads (purchases and library loans). In every case these were recommendations from other people. Not surprising, since I think word of mouth is the best advertisement. But here's a twist: in every case, these recommendations came via the INTERNET, from bloggers I read or mentions on writer's boards where I participate. I find that to be very interesting indeed.

Heidi the Hick said...

I picked up PRISONER OF TEHRAN by Marina Nemat because she was a member of my writer's group when I first joined a couple of years ago. She's an elegant and funny woman which made me curious to read her memoir. Besides, I've made a decision to buy books by people I know, whether it's in real life or in blog world!

It is a fascinating read. I highly recommend. Not just because I like her. It's both harrowing and hopeful.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I'm reading SKULLDUGERY PLEASANT, by Derek Landy because I saw it mentioned on a number of blogs for children's books. I'm always looking for books my kids will enjoy, since they have to read such dull books in school. So far, SP is a lot of fun.

I must say, I get most of my reading pile from kids' lit bloggers. Last year's Cybil award list was chock full of gems and kept me busy through summer.

I'm ready to return to adult fiction, so I love lists like these, thanks everyone!

R.C.

Anonymous said...

I have a favorite little independent bookstore near my apartment and they are always helpful with recommendations both for me and for my daughters. I also read the NYTimes book review.

Right now, I just started RUN by Ann Pachett. I loved BEL CANTO, so it was a no-brainer.

WendyNYC

Sandra Lambert said...

A friend is taking a "Gender and Nature" course and gave me one of her required readings - "My Year of Meats" by Ruth Ozeki. I don't know if I'll finish it, but I've had a chuckle or two so far.
As a former bookstore owner, I trade book reviews with friends the way other people gossip.

Helen said...

I'm reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. I saw it on Amazon and thought that the title was absolutely fantastic.

Marlene Dotterer said...

As a scientist, I won't take offense at your denigration of scientists. Honest.

We (my husband and I) make most of our choices straight out of the science fiction book club catalog. Or the Scientific American book club catalog.

Yes. We are pitiful. Thank you for asking.

Sometimes we read a book that's been recommended by a friend. That's how we ended up reading The Singularity is Near. My husband thinks it's great, but he's an engineer.

I also pick up recommendations by reading author's blogs. I like to see what other science fiction authors like to read. AND - I read the Book Review section of the newspaper. Hoping, of course, that someday I'll read about MY book, there.

Chris Redding said...

I usually pick up a book either by its cover or its title.
Bump in the Night is a collection of novellas one of which is JD Robb.
cmr

burgy61 said...

Night Sins was given to my wife by one of her friends, I think.

But I am planning on buying "Writing On The Wall" by James Goodman. He has a portion of it posted on his Myspace site. It's a horror story about bathroom graffiti, it looks interesting.

Patrick McNamara said...

I would say that most of the books I read are ones I find either in the library or bookstores.

The Internet does seem to be an important means of advertising now, but it's fragmented so it's reach depends upon the popularity of the site it's advertised on. And even then there's no guarantee those who see the ad will be interested in buying it.

jjdebenedictis said...

Good timing, Nathan! I've spent absurd amounts of money in the past two weeks on novels. Why, I daresay, I am a scientific study unto myself. *preens*

1) The Wizard Lord by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Because:
I was buying a whole whack o' books by authors I knew and decided to take a chance on one I had never heard of. I also skimmed a few pages of the book and liked what I saw of the writing. I would not have taken the chance otherwise.

2) The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Because:
Kay, at his best, is OMGSQUEESOBRILLIANT!!!

3) Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Because:
I skimmed a few pages of the books in this series and every one sounded great, so I bought the first one. I had heard of the books via people whose blogs I read.

4) His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novak
Because:
I've heard enough people squeal in delight over the concept. Also, if I don't like it, I can give it to my dad, who likely will.

5) Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Because:
I haven't read much Gaiman, and I'm still vaguely trying to figure out why some of my friends have practically erected shrines to him.

6) Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Because:
The first book (see above) was pretty good, and I've heard the series only gets better.

7) Endymion and The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons
Because:
Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion seared themselves into my brain. I consider Dan Simmons to also be OMGSQUEESOBRILLIANT!!!

Also, I intend to buy Making Money by Terry Pratchett and The Electric Church by Jeff Somers very soon. Pratchett - simply because I loooooove Pratchett, and Somers because I'm seriously intrigued by the book's premise.

The Anti-Wife said...

Just finished "Bad Girl" by Maya Reynolds - a 5 cold shower rated book. Getting ready to start "Look Me in the Eye" by John Elder Robison. Both are blogging buddies.

Luc2 said...

I'm a bloodsucker. If I like a writer, I stick to his work until bursting. My current victim is Terry Pratchett.

Once in a while I read a bestseller (Kite Runner, currently), and a classic (The Moon and Sixpence).

Jenny said...

Well, the book I am currently reading, Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History (by the author of the Midwife's Tale) came from the library which probably bought it thanks to a good review in Library Journal.

The last book I bought was a romance written by an author who was in a critique group with me six years ago who has now published four books. I always buy books by anyone I've gotten to know online.

Julie K. Rose said...

I picked up Ann Benson's THE PLAGUE TALES thanks to a review in the last Historical Novels Review. A great deal of my library list comes from that journal, actually.

I just got Charles Holdefer's THE CONTRACTOR thanks to a rec by a friend. Haven't started it yet, but it looks interesting.

Jess said...

I'm reading Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I'd heard it mentioned as a good book but I'm not usually into Big Fat Fantasies OR hardcovers, but I saw it featured on the publisher's website, and then I saw that it won the Quill, so I caved and went to the bookstore, picked it up and looked at it. I only *bought* it because I read the prologue and first chapter *in the store* and liked them. I'm really enjoying it. (I'm picky. I've been burned.)

Topaz said...

I picked up the book I'm currently reading because I was looking for more books by an author I recently learned I really liked.

Lisa said...

I read a review by Scott Esposito of Conversational Reading and The Quarterly Conversation (he's great) and it intrigued me enough that I bought The Children's Hospital, by Chris Adrian. Scott didn't steer me wrong...

Alex J. Avriette said...

Was interested in reading another Larry Niven book, and curious about the fact that he wrote it with Jerry Pournelle. Amazon suggested it.

Gracehoper said...

I'm reading The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin (non-fiction). I bought it after reading the back because it seemed similar to a project I am working on (a non-fiction about the Lone Pine Earthquake of 1872).

Picked it up at a yard sale but most books I buy (or not)depending on how the back cover reads. This one was fascinating - the back cover AND the book.

Gerri said...

I find almost all my books in one of two ways: perusing the shelf at a bookstore(fiction), or perusing specific topics on a book seller's site(non-fiction). Recommendations make up a very small part of what I buy.

Danette Haworth said...

I read Rules because I'd heard about it on Verla Kay's boards.

A lady at McDonald's told me about the Prey series by John Sandford.

Laura Lippman, Anne Tyler, Edna Buchanan, Elizabeth Berg, and Leslie Glass were all serendipitous discoveries made while browsing the shelves.

Calenhíril said...

I'm reading The Deception of the Emerald Ring, the third book in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. My writing group meets at Borders in the literary fiction section (which is right next to the alternate lifestyles section, which is always interesting) and kept seeing the covers for these books. I was never tempted to buy them, though. Went to the library a few weeks ago and saw Emerald Ring on an endcap, checked to see if they had the first two in the library, and checked all three out. Happy I did, especially since they were free ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm reading The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross because I enjoy his blog.

cyn said...

reading marjorie liu's debut novel tiger eye. put it on my wishlist because i read her journal, and got it for my bday.

Dave Wood said...

I've got "Pattern Recognition" beside the bed out of reader loyalty to William Gibson, but I haven't been able to work my way very far into it. I guess I'll have to read the back cover to regain some enthusiasm for it; I'm sure it'll get better.

Meanwhile, I'm reading, "Across the Nightingale Floor" by Lian Hearn because I'm a sucker for pseudo- Japanese pseudo-historicals. Just picked it up in the store based on the back cover and a few excerpts.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nathan -- I have a Gossip Girl / book question for you:

Cecily von Ziegesar based her GG characters on real-life people and apparently just tweaked their names a teeny, tiny bit. Like by a letter or two.

Is this, er, legal? Seems fraught with problems.

WendyNYC

Nathan Bransford said...

Wendy-

There are publishing attorneys who specialize in issues like that and since I'm not a lawyer I don't want to say anything too specifically on the subject -- but I will say that authors usually sweep away all identifying details when fictionalizing a real individual. So there you go.

Dave Wood said...

I do have a question today and it's even kind of on-topic. A while back I was scouting for books to name-drop as comparable in my query. I came up with one that has some similarity in feel and subject matter, but it has some serious flaws that has gotten it slammed by about %25 of the reviewers on Amazon (who loved its strengths).

So, my quandary is: Do I mention the book for agents who ask -- and say I think my book avoids those issues? Or do I mention it and leave any implied criticism unmentioned? Or do I just keep my mouth shut, despite the agent's query requirements?

Nathan Bransford said...

Dave-

Without knowing the specifics it's really difficult for me to offer advice, although I will say that in general it's preferable to make your book seem as completely different from what's out there as possible rather than present it as like something else with one thing changed. Hope that makes sense.

Other Lisa said...

Wendy, I used to do Errors and Omissions insurance research (for films and TV). Is it problematic? In a word, yes. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in the 70s that the fictionalization of names alone does not protect a literary property from litigation. This was over a fictionalized version of an encounter group (I think), and the real-life therapist took exception to the book's portrayal and sued.

If a person feels he is being portrayed on TV without his permission, he can certainly bring a lawsuit. He might not win, but the industry tries to prevent such nuisance suits from being brought in the first place, thus E&O research.

I don't know what the publishing equivalent of this is, but I would guess that there is one. I would also guess that it might be somewhat less of a problem in publishing than in films/TV, because for the most part, your average book does not get the exposure of your average TV show.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Apparently, many of her fellow grads know *exactly * who she is talking about, but maybe it was fictionalized so much it wasn't a problem? Anyway, thanks.

WendyNYC

Dave Wood said...

Thanks, Nathan.

It does, and in general, I wouldn't mention the book at all.

I guess I won't, even though Peter Rubie's site specifically wants "works to which it (the queried book) might sensibly be compared..." It feels wrong to mention an author's work and then say, "but I think I do such and so better." Feels like hubris. LOL

Kathleen said...

I picked up The Light Ages by Ian R. Macleod because my local bookstore had a "recommended" note on it, and the cover blurb was good ("smoke-and-sorcery saga to rival Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy"), and because I had decided I needed to branch out and read more different Fantasy authors.

Lupina said...

PLAN B by Anne Lamott and THE SUPERNATURALIST by Eoin Colfer were impulse buys based on having read their other things.
MAN-MONKEY was sent to me by the author and Ann Tyler's BREATHING LESSONS was a lucky find at a library book sale.

Spartezda said...

Hm. The book I'm reading now and the book I read last were both found from mentions on blogs. I'm about to start the Lord Peter books by Dorothy L. Sayers, which came from one of my favorite authors co-dedicating one of her novels to Sayers.

And the book I am just leaving to pick up from the library, well, that one I saw mentioned on blogs and was reminded of by a billboard for its TV series.

Looking at this, I realize I rarely, rarely ever buy something I spot cold at a bookstore--usually I read about it on Amazon, see a blog's recommendation, or read a library copy first before buying my own. Or all three! I am a cheapskate extraordinaire.

(One of my happiest memories is the day a local library branch was getting rid of a bunch of YA books because they'd got in new, not-twenty-years-old-and-overloved copies of them, and since some of the librarians didn't feel right about just tossing books in a Dumpster, they let me cart away for free loads of hardcover Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Susan Cooper, and more. 'Twas beautiful).

Madeleine said...

I'm currently reading STARDUST (loved the movie-- but I swear I normally read the books first! This is a ONE TIME THING!) and TWILIGHT (I've got a 12-year old sister. 'Nuff said.)

Fun question!

Church Lady said...

Chics with blogs. No wait. I mean, cool chics with intelligent blogs.

Bakerman said...

Hard to pin down intuitiveness, but I'd say 1) title; 2) cover; 3) and if I'm still holding it in my hands (or on the Amazon screen), the specifics.

But I'd like to turn Nathan's question around a bit, since what moves the agent may be more to the point.

I'm mystified by this cover: The Almanac of Political Corruption, Scandals and Dirty Politics - which struck me as a whimsical animation. Of course, that may be its intention, a light-hearted glimpse into an otherwise intriguing subject. Absent the availability of an Amazon excerpt, that remains my impression.

One of the great advantages of the Internet is the ability it now gives us (the writers) to look over the agent's product - not just the genres and subject matter, but how the agent/agency specifically markets the work, the book, the finished product... the publisher's majority input notwithstanding.

Lora T. said...

I just finished THE CHILDREN OF HURIN by JRR Tolkien. I first heard about it several months before it was released on a website that I can't remember the name of. Anything by Tolkien ususally finds its way onto my bookshelf.

Steve Axelrod said...

I'm reading 3 books right now -- two, actually, since I just finished "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". Great book, by the way, and all the more so by my lack of foreknowledge or expectations. Anyway: Mark Haddon ... found the book on a customer's table, needed something to read at lunch. Love at first sight. I'm also reading "Winter" by Len Deighton, part of his magesterial, 10-book Bernard Samson saga. The first three -- "Berlin Game", "Mexico Set", "London Match", were reccomended to me by a friend, who knew I was going on a long bus trip and needed survival reading. Genre fiction raised to the level of literature.
Finally: "Heaven's Net is Wide", the first of five "Tales of the Otori", by Lian Hearn. I saw the books in a bookstore, liked the covers, read a paragraph and bought all three books. (I'm a sucker for a cool cover -- I started reading Stephen King because of the creepy double cover of the "Carrie" paperback: Carrie's eyes were literally cut out -- all you could see were flames. When you got to the next cover, it was a drawing of the town on fire. Instant sale).

I do that a lot ... like the cover, open it up ... check out a paragraph and decide. I bought three sub -continental door-stop novels that way: "A Suitable Boy", "Shantaram" and "Sacred Games". No regrets, so far.

P.G said...

Well most of what I am currently reading is for research purposes. The one lonely novel I am about to begin is by
Terry Pratchett, "Making Money".
I mainly get all my books from the library I work at. I process nearly every book that comes in so this means I can read the back of book.
I also get to read the McNaughtons lists of up and coming books plus all the Advance Copy books that come into the library.
AHHH! Its a sweet life.

Alex Fayle said...

The last three books I read were by authors I would read anything they wrote (yes, even half-awake middle-of-the-night toilet-paper notes).

Charles de Lint: Widdershins
Jasper Fforde: First Among Sequels
Diana Wynne Jones: The Pinhoe Egg

Stephanie Zvan said...

Well, the book I stopped into the store to buy today won't help with the market research. I bought it in part because I wanted a final copy when I offer critique on the next in the series and partly because I'm in the acknowledgments. The three impulse purchases were Nero Wolfe books, which series I'm currently devouring.

In general, fiction needs a recommendation (friend with a good track record, buzz from a trusted source, previous experience with the author). Non-fiction gets impulse purchases based on subject and liveliness of the prose.

Kate H said...

Friend referral accounts for my current read. Some sort of referral from someone whose opinion I have some sort of vague reason to respect accounts for most of my reading. But I have to confess I patronize my local library a lot more than any bookstore, real or virtual--I just don't have the money to buy, or the room to store, all the books I read.

A Paperback Writer said...

I'm currently in the middle of two non-fiction books, both of which I picked up because of their titles in two different bookstores in too different countries. (Blackwell's on Nicholson Street in Edinburgh, Scotland last July and The King's English Bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah two weeks ago.)
I just finished a good YA book (Orphan of the Sun) that I chose because it was in the "other customers also bought" section on Amazon.
I would say these are both fairly typical methods for me to choose books.

A Paperback Writer said...

A PS to my comment:
neither of the books I chose by their titles was displayed prominently. I pulled both books off crowded shelves where all I could see was their spines.

Jordyn said...

Question: What happened to all the HILLS references? You got me hooked on the show and now you aren't even talking about it! *alligator tears*

Okay, but seriously, time for book talk.

Um... I was attracted by the COVER of the book. (I know, I'm breaking a major rule here.) and the book ended up being awesome, so after taking it out of the library I finally put down my $18 and bought the dern thing.

AmyB said...

The book I just finished--"Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress--was recommended by someone on an email list I read. The one I'm about to start--"The Green Glass Sea" by Ellen Klages--was recommended by a presenter at last year's World Fantasy Convention, in one of those panels where the presenters name their favorite books from that year.

Mystery Robin said...

I'm reading The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly right now (FANTASTIC mystery!) I actually went into B&N for Deadly Appraisal by Jane Cleland. But I couldn't remember the name of the book to save my life - or her last name - and apparently the info desk can't look things up by an author's first name and a general description of what the book's about (geez!)

So, I set out looking at every book in the mystery section hoping to find one by a Jane. Instead, this caught my eye because of, yes, the cover, and I wondered why Beverly Cleary was writing mysteries - then I looked more closely.

By the time I finished reading the back I was sold. The flap copy and cover were beyond fabulous and it's my favorite setting (Anglo-India int he 1920's).

Angie said...

My current book is a reread -- Queen of the Amazons by Judith Tarr. I was just automatically buying all her books for a while. The last first-run book I read was Making Money by Terry Pratchett, the latest Discworld book. He's another writer whose books I just buy automatically -- no marketing needed.

Angie

Rob said...

Currently, I'm reading a book called "Horse Heaven" as research for my current manuscript. It was recommended by literary equine people. Pure Word-Of-Mouth.

K.C. Shaw said...

I picked up Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible this weekend after seeing its mention in Galleycat. If you go to the "authors" subsection and scroll down to last Wed. (Sept. 19), you'll find it under the caption Superhero Novelist Declares "Geek-Lit Throwdown." The exchange was so hysterically funny that I absolutely had to have the book, and I wasn't disappointed. I read it Saturday and now have a missionary's zeal to get the word out to everyone about how great it is!

Go on, y'all, go read it!

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

A friend/librarian recommended "Where Rivers Change Direction" by Mark Spragg, which happens to be the One Book, One Community current selection.

I'd say 90% of what I read are recommendations of friends, but I only read about 25% of what's recommended.

Josephine Damian said...

Neil: The Prestige book is one of my top favorite reads this year - a thousand times better than the movie.

Me? Am reading "Heart Sick" by Chelsea Cain - (a library book)- saw it reviewed in the NY Times and they only tend to review the more literary thrillers. They gave it a rave but the NYT has given other thrillers raves that turned out to be not deserved.

"Heart Sick" is really good, so far.

Am picking up Gerritsen's latest - "Bone Garden" today at the lib. Know about the book from reading her blog, and I'm planning on reviewing it.

Just finished classic by Dawn Powell, "Turn, Magic Wheel." Had to buy book since my library did not carry it (shame on them). I read about it in a daily newsletter I subscribe to called "Today in Literature."

I loved it so much, I reviewed it on my blog http://josephinedamian.blogspot.com

I'll also review "Heart Sick" and "Bone Garden."

And, of course, my forensics college textbooks!

Josephine Damian said...

PS: Nathan, did you know Donald Maass always asks this question at every lecture/workshop he gives? He's quite curious to understrand a what makes a reader buy a book.

Rachel said...

For me, it's a combination of things:

1) Recommendation from someone who's opinion I've liked in the past.

2) Cool cover (I've bought books just because of the cover, but then again, I'm a designer by trade.)

3) Back copy/first pages. Sometimes I stumble on a book and the idea just sounds so awesome, I open it. If the first page keeps whatever feel I was looking for, I buy it. This was how I bought _Bergdorf Blondes_, which was WAY off my normal book buying habits, but I loved the first few pages (hated the ending, but the book was really fun over all).

Those 3 habits account for 99% of my book buying.

Rob Brooks said...

I'm currently reading "Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire," by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola. I heard about it because I read Golden's blog, where he mentions all of his works in progress.

Kanani said...

I just finished reading "Member of the Wedding" by Carson McCullers. I read "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" before this. They were recommended to me as great examples of catching the emotions within a character.

I'm also reading a volumne of poetry by Robinson Jeffers, which was inspired because I really wanted to reconnect with my California roots and also the literary gems that have come out of there.

sylvia said...

I'm reading Sapphires and Garlic, my mother bought it for me. Before that I reread The Last Unicorn because I saw a reference to it online (as the forefather of Fantasy) although I have to admit I'm pretty sure originally my mother bought me that one as well. Other books I get because I'm intrigued by a review (professional or just on a blog) ... when someone mentions a book that they loved, I'll punch it into Amazon and read the blurb and the reviews on the site -- if I am still intrigued, I'll make a note to watch out for it.

Gabriele C. said...

Jack Whyte, SKYSTONE - recommendation in the comments on the Smart Bitches blog (bought the other books in the series as well).

David Blixt, THE MASTER OF VERONA- read an interview with him on the Reading the Past blog.

Rebecca Gablé, DAS SPIEL DER KÖNIGE - book 3 in a series, the author is an autobuy for me. The same goes for Bernard Cornwell's SWORD SONG.

David Wishart, GERMANICUS - browsed 'Germanicus' to see what nonsene the net has about him *grin* and decided the book sounded interesting. It is.

JDuncan said...

Well, my latest read, Kathleen Givens 'Rivals for the Crown' was not recommended to me at all. It was in the suitcases my wife and I brought back from RWA National. That said, if you like historicals with a hearty dose of romance, and a very interesting time period, i.e. I had no clue that the English expulsed the Jews in 1290, then I highly recommend this book. Very enjoyable read.

JDuncan
www.jimnduncan.com

Anonymous said...

I'm reading everything by Jasper Fforde because I stumbled upon one of his books at the front table in Borders, I enjoyed his style, and now I'm collecting all of his. I'm also reading the Fionavar Tapestry series on recommendation from a friend, and LORD OF MISRULE for my bookclub. Most of mine are either on recommendation from friends, from a link on the Border's emails, or just random finds skimming through covers at the bookstore.
-Christine, Maryland

Chumplet said...

All I've been hearing for the past year is Jack Reacher this and Jack Reacher that, so I'm reading a Lee Child book, PERSUADER. Yup, I'm hooked, dammit.

Chumplet said...

Heidi, Marina Nemat is scheduled to be at a book signing this weekend in Sharon, Ontario, at a book fair. You might want to visit and have her sign your book.

Redzilla said...

Random selection from bookstore shelf resulted in Heidi Julavits' The Effect of Living Backwards. Read first paragraph, decided it was worth $15. I defy your marketing analysis, Publishing Industry!

Travis Erwin said...

I am reading Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo.

Why? I have loved hsi work since I read The Rick Pool years ago. I have waited a long time for his next novel after Empire Falls.

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