How Do You Find New Books?

I just finished writing a business plan for Wombat Group Media – all thirty pages of it. It’s essentially an outline for how I’d go about self-publishing Doha 12 and perhaps other books I write. I haven’t finally decided yet whether to make that leap, but that I spent several days doing this shows that the jump isn’t far away.

Anyway, in compiling the plan, I ran across a lot of survey data regarding how readers find new books and authors. This is important data because it shapes how I might raise awareness of any of the titles I publish, which is the most daunting part of the whole process. Some of the data are a couple years old, though, so I’d like to share some of it and get a feel from you for how valid you think it still is. (Forgive me this foray into writerly navel-gazing; I try to avoid it in general, but this is how I’ve spent the past several days.)

The late-2011 Pew Internet & American Life Project The Rise of e-Reading identifies these influencers for all types of readers:

Sources of recommendations to fiction readers for their next book

The 2010 Sisters-in-Crime/Bowker PubTrack survey The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age lists these factors for raising awareness of new titles:

Factors in raising awareness of new books

Once a reader of mysteries becomes aware of a title, what causes her (68% of mystery readers are women) to decide to buy it? S-i-C/Bowker:

General book purchase reasons for mystery readers

These last two charts cause me a certain amount of heartburn, because they imply an extra hurdle: not only do I have to make a potential reader aware of my book, but I have to convince her it’s okay to read it even though it’s not by an author she knows and doesn’t involve a series character she likes. (It also incidentally suggests I think about creating a series character.)

Finally, the S-i-C/Bowker study ranked 27 purchase motivators in order of their influence, as identified by readers. The highest influencers:

Top six book-purchase motivators for mystery readers

…which, oddly, doesn’t mention a previous relationship with an author or character. “Prominent display in bookstore” may also be taken to mean being featured by an e-commerce site such as Amazon or

I found that if you get enough of this data together, it stops making sense because different sources say different things. That, I suppose, is the wonder of different data sets and different questions in different surveys.

How do these data square with your experience? Do these charts describe how you discover new authors and books? If not, how do you do that?

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