How To Find A Good Book To Read

Growing up we had limited choices—one kind of bread, one kind of cereal, one children’s program on television per day—and life was a lot simpler. In these days of plenty, ‘too much choice‘ is a recurring problem and when paired with the modern ‘time is money’ dilemma, it results in continual decision-making stress.

To escape from stress (and housework and responsibilities) I have turned to books my entire life. Open up the pages of a book, new or old, and I am guaranteed several hours of happy absorption and oblivion. However, this aspect of my life has not escaped the ‘too much choice‘ phenomena and resulting selection stress. The books I am drawn to read these days are by South Asian authors and the sheer range and assortment of books being published is mind-boggling. Gone are the days when a few select South Asian elite authors held sway over the English writing market. Nowadays there is something for everyone and it almost seems like everyone has a book out there.

The problem then becomes which book to read? As much as I would like to, I can’t read everything out there, and in more cases than I would like, I wouldn’t want to read many of the books on offer.

After a great many cases of hit and miss I have finally perfected a three-point system that I am going to share since it might work for you as well. First off, I read the blurb of the book. A typo or a grammatical mistake here—and believe it or not a good eighty percent of books from the region mess up this critical element—ensures that no matter how good the story sounds, I will not go forward with the book. Call me elitist or over-critical, but if the author and/or publisher couldn’t be bothered to craft a good blurb, one of first points of reference for a reader and a primary marketing tool, what are the chances that the book was given the editing and attention it deserves?

If the blurb is well written and the story seems engaging, my next point of reference is to head off to Goodreads and check out a couple of reviews. I specifically go to Goodreads and not to Amazon since I find the reviews there to be much more balanced and more authentic. My strategy with reviews is to find a couple of longer ones, which generally tend to be written by thoughtful and articulate people. If you find a few of these and they seem favorable, there is a good chance that the book merits the review. My final step is to now move to Amazon and check out the preview of the book, such a wonderful feature and completely free. If the first chapter intrigues me, I happily add the book to my cart and proceed to checkout. If not, well, move onto option two.

While the process isn’t foolproof, it generally results in a good read and since I am planning to spend both my time and money into the book, I for one am happy to make the investment. Thank you Goodreads and Amazon!


Just a Little Love

One of the biggest challenges to large software corporations has been the open source community—a massive population of coders that provide free code to the world; that share, improve and evolve their software every day in ways that a corporate structure can’t emulate. In many ways, these coders have redefined the internet, and our lives. When Steve Jobs set up the iOS Developer Program at Apple, he did it because he recognized the power of open source—numbers. The sheer number of open source and freelance developers far outweigh the resources large corporations have.

Independent and open-source coders changed the landscape of software development. Independent and self-published authors are doing the same for publishing.

Newly published indie and self-published authors are often unaware of the huge amount of support available to them. From bloggers to fellow authors, there are sites dedicated to editorial, marketing, distribution and PR specifically for indie and self-published authors. More importantly, there are bloggers who will review and promote indie and self-published authors exclusively.

Sites like The Indie View, Indies Unlimited, Pixel of Ink and Indie Book Reviewer, to name a few, are excellent resources for the independent author who has to do more to promote his or her own book than a traditionally published author would. Small independent publishers like Indireads don’t have the resources, the distribution networks or the marketing engines of traditional publishers.

But they have the support of the people. And it’s important to connect with them. For instance, if you’re on Goodreads, there are at least 5 things you should be doing to raise your own profile.

  1. Join Groups & Comment
    This may sound obvious, but I’m surprised that so few people actually do this. There are groups segmented by genre, keyword or by geography.  There are review swap groups, reader groups, author groups—it really is a huge resource. But you can’t step into a social environment and expect an immediate response to your query. You need to make friends first, hence, comment, respond, ask, give as much as you want to take.
  2. Add your book to lists
    Find lists that represent your book—South Asian reads, great cover art, funny books, easy-reads—there are so many to choose from. They call it ‘Listopia’ for a reason. Ask your friends to add your book to these lists, to vote on books you’ve added.
  3. Recommend!
    You may not have large followers, but if you recommend your book to one friend who reads it and recommends it to five…well you get where I’m going with this, right?
  4. Use your own friends
    Not to leave reviews, but to share quotes from your book. Ask friends and readers to share their favorite quotes from your book (don’t do it yourself, that’s just self-aggrandizement!). They could take this a step further and share the quotes on Facebook, though that’s up to them.
  5. Fill out your profile
    If you have a blog, add your feed to Goodreads. Add a picture, an author bio, and read the Author Program page on Goodreads for more ideas.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is RECIPROCATE. If an author likes your Facebook page, like them back, send them a respectful and friendly message, comment on their posts. If they follow you on Twitter, follow them back, favorite their tweets, retweet them, join in or start conversations.

If you’re expecting the indie community to promote you in return for nothing, you may as well take your book off the shelves right now. The indie community is a friendly group, and they’re willing to help out everyone, without prejudice, airs, or discrimination. But if you decide you’re too good for them, you’ll be relegated in a heartbeat.

They don’t ask for financial return—just a little love.