I started blogging not long after I started reading Romance. Romance doesn’t have much of a presence in the UK, often resigned to one shelf in a bookshop and not featuring at all in shops that only sell a few books alongside other things, so my exposure to it was limited. In fact, I started reading romance when I got a kindle .. yes, I know Amazon is the big bad in most cases but, for me, it opened up a world of possibilities.
I wanted to shout about Romance to people in the UK, wanting them to know about the new authors I was discovering (this was 2011 … social media was not as well used as it is now). That didn’t happen as the majority of my readers were, and remain to be, from the USA but it certainly drove me to try authors that I had never even heard of and, in a lot of cases, couldn’t actually buy in the UK.
When I started out, the one thing that was evident (and I’ll be honest, I miss as I don’t feel it is as evident now) was how great the Romance community was. Everyone was welcoming and full of recommendations of new authors to try … I had a list as long as my arm. I’ll admit, I got my favourites quickly and got hooked. They became my auto-buy authors, authors who I pre-ordered books from without hesitation, not even reading reviews.
For a while that worked for me. No matter what my measly book budget was, it went on auto-buy authors.
Looking back, this was not a great way of reading romance as it assumed a couple of things : –
All books that favourite authors create were ones that I would love
Totally false. Authors often branch out into different genres and, sometimes, those books feel very different. I adore Pamela Clare’s Romantic Suspense books – her historical do not work for me. Although I have read Nalini Singh’s UF and PNR so often I could quote them, her contemporary books do not work for me at all. It used to be that authors would use pen-names to separate out their work in different genres however this doesn’t happen as much.
Authors write for love and don’t need to make a living
They do. Some authors constantly switch up genres to increase their reader base. Some authors find a series that people love and keep on writing it – sometimes this works and sometimes, to put it bluntly, it does not. I think I will read Eve and Roarke no matter how many books are written (50 and counting!) however I have long since given up on Janet Evanovich and JR Ward (sorry guys… I just can’t). I find that some authors also find a “formula” that works for them and continue with that. I always know what I am picking up, which is comforting (like a hug in a book), however sometimes that means I am less inclined to pick up a new read as I am a master of the reread so I will pick up an old favourite.
I feel that, in having auto-buy authors, I limited my reading choices in a lot of ways. It was a very narrow list filled with only a set amount of authors, genres and a shaming lack of diversity. I decided over the last few year that that wasn’t the way I was reading anymore. I have, like everyone else, a set budget and the way that I spend it has changed.
So, what is my new way of picking books? I like parameters so I set myself some;
- The only pre-order’s I make without reading reviews are one’s from series I am OBSESSED with (Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels, Faith Hunter Jane Yellowrock and Nalini Singh Psy/Angels fit here….)
- Any other pre-orders I make, I will have read reviews from people I trust and made an informed choice. I will have also read this authors work before and it will be below £4 (Price is ALWAYS a factor). It will either be from a series I haven’t started or a standalone.
- I will not buy an eBook which is over £9.99 (Hardcover price) and will mark it on a price-drop website to track its price. This means I can buy more books!
- I read as diversely as possible.
- I will read at least two new-to-me authors a month – I usually get these from Twitter recommendations.
- Any series has a two strikes and you’re out rule (sorry..).
Since starting this, my reading list has become so much more varied and I love it. I can never go back to auto-buy authors.