View Full Version : Finding a paperback or debut?

05-19-2007, 07:36 AM
I always hear (or read...) first time authors complain about their debut novels being those paperbacks that end up in the Supermarkets. Well, here is my question. When you actually go to the supermarkets, how do you find a good paperback or debut novel to buy?

What do you look for? What kind of draw does the back cover have to have?

For me, I'm notoriously picky. The book HAS to have the genre on the back or inside flap somewhere for me to read it. Or, the cover has to tell me what it is about. The back should also hint about the people I will be reading about. For example: When looking for books, I like to know if I'm reading African American literature. I know it's kind of stereotypical, but most AA novels (meaning about AA characters) will draw me in and I will buy that paperback. I will not buy mysteries, romance, or science fiction. I don't have anything against those genres, it is just that I've been burnt too many times by just grabbing in the store. I will only read those paperbacks if someone online or real life will reccomend it, and I don't mean other authors. I mean Joe Schmo.

So, what do you look for? How do you avoid getting something...bad?

05-19-2007, 04:55 PM
Same way I avoid picking up something 'bad' in a normal bookshop.

In fact, I was crazy enough to go shopping yesterday evening - a Friday!!! - and picked up a debut novel. The Chemistry of Death (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chemistry-Death-Simon-Beckett/dp/0553817493/ref=sr_1_1/203-7804380-3087903?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1179579200&sr=1-1) by Simon Beckett.

I picked it because occasionally I read crime thrillers and this one is set in England. Now I've nothing against American crime thrillers, I just like to read books set within Britain as those places will be more familiar to me, either through experience or the media.

What drew me in? The cover. What hooked me? The blurb on the back which made it clear the characters were English and it was set in England. Bear in mind I'm a Scot and ideally I'd like to read books set in my own country but apart from Ian Rankin's and Stuart MacBride's, I can't think of any crime novels set in Scotland. So England's the next best thing!

Also the fact it's a debut novel intrigued me. I like to be able to say, "I followed this author from book one," and see how their writing career progresses. Plus, still trying to break through myself it gives me an idea what sort of debut novels make it.

Though, in this author's case, he was knocked back by several agents and had to find a publisher himself. It was only when he had a publisher that he was able to attract a literary agent, so he went a bit backside-frontwards in his career but who cares? It works and he's published!

05-19-2007, 05:51 PM
The last debut I bought had a blurb by Stephen King on the back cover. That's the sole reason I bought it (well, the cover was cool, too), and I gotta say, Mr. King was right. It was excellent.

Claudia Gray
05-19-2007, 09:24 PM
Anybody who has ended up in a supermarket is probably not doing too badly -- supermarkets don't stock huge numbers of books, which means they tend to stick to stuff that already has a track record of sales.

As for my shopping experience, I see if the back cover grabs me -- but with paperbacks, I'm open to a little risk. Particularly if I'm in a used book store.

05-19-2007, 09:32 PM
When I am looking at paperbacks in the supermarkets or service stations, firstly it's the title that gets my attention, then I read the back cover to see what the story is about. If I like the paragraph I've read on the back cover, then I buy the book.


05-19-2007, 09:41 PM
The last debut I bought had a blurb by Stephen King on the back cover. That's the sole reason I bought it (well, the cover was cool, too), and I gotta say, Mr. King was right. It was excellent.

Hmm, I'm kind of with you. Except the Stephen King thing; a lot of the time I find him boring.

However, I've never seen a book with a blurb by an author I liked, except twice.

05-19-2007, 10:12 PM
The books in supermarkets are seldom debuts. They're usually by authors with a significant backlist, the idea being that readers will pick up the latest book on a whim, and then go back and find the backlist. At least, that's the publisher's and author's plan. For the person placing the books in the bookstore, it's a matter of turn-over, and name-brand authors' books are going to turn over faster than unknowns.


05-19-2007, 10:17 PM
I go exclusively by flashy gold/silver lettering on the cover, guaranteed winner every time

05-19-2007, 10:25 PM
The books in supermarkets are seldom debuts...

Not true in the supermarkets I go to. There are plenty debut writers there.