Stumbling upon favorite authors


First of all, let me say Welcome to those of you clicking over from the Love of Reading Online Book Fair.  If this is your first time here, please check out the archives and kick the tires a bit.  Drop a comment or two.  And if I can be of help, please let me know.

I had an interesting thought the other day.  I was thinking about some of the contemporary authors who I enjoy and whose books I go out and get whenever they are released.  People like Olen Steinhauer, Kevin Wignall, Henry Kisor, Brock Clarke, Howard Norman, Michelle Herman, Richard Lewis, etc.  I realized that I became aware of most of these authors in an almost random way.

I found the work of Olen, Kevin, and Brock by shopping at discount bookstores or picking up remainders.  I went on to research them online, read all of their books and interview  all three.  So with the inauspicious start of picking their book out of pile for a few bucks I went on to become a big fan of their work – and I hope offer a little cheap publicity.  I stumbled upon Howard Norman the same way, but have yet to strike up a connection with him. But I have read all of his books and reviewed them here.

Michelle Herman was another interesting connection.  I saw her book at the bookstore and realized she was living in Columbus.  I emailed her and soon was reading all of her books in preparation for my first in person interview.

Richard Lewis lives in Indonesia and yet he emailed me to reach out about his first book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and went on to review it for National Review and have interviewed Richard a couple of times. He is now one of those authors whose books I will read whenever a new one is available.

I could tell more stories like the ones above, but I think the point is that authors find readers and fans in lots of ways.  The plural of anecdote isn’t data, but I think this does point to something interesting about the interaction between the web and authors.  If you find an author you like there are immediate ways you can connect to their work and maybe even them personally.  And of course, tracking down their books is often as easy as a click of the mouse.

I also find it interesting that I enjoy exploring these remaindered books and how this has led me to some great authors.  It is a way to bypass the hype and only judge a book by its writing.  Of course, I could write another post ruminating on what it is that attracts me to these books in the first place.  What is it about their covers and flap jackets that causes me to choose them out of the hundreds of others in the pile or on the shelf?  Is judging a book by its cover really judging by its merits?  Should I be buying books new so the author gets a cut?

But let me hold that off for another post and end this with a question.  How did you come to find some of your favorite authors?  Was it through traditional means like book reviews, ads, or bookstore promotions?  Was it the word of a friend?  Stumbling upon them in the bookstore or library?  I would be interested to know if others have authors whose careers they follow after finding them in such a random way as I have.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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