Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
A recommendation from a trusted individual goes a long way in influencing a person to read a book. Why do you think publishers are always asking for endorsements on projects? Readers are highly motivated by those little recommendations. The bigger the name, the better because more people will be influenced to read the book if they recognize the name.
I think, if publishers could, they would rather tailor endorsements to individual readers. Wouldn’t you rather read a book your best friend recommended instead of one Oprah liked? I think my best friends have a better idea than Oprah does of what I enjoy reading. I value the opinion of my friends because I know that they enjoy similar books. We’ve had success sharing books in the past. We enjoy discussing the books after they’ve been shared between us. It’s fun and it gives us another way to connect. This is also why many people participate in book clubs.
Friend recommendations and book club recommendations expand a reader’s horizons. You end up reading books that you wouldn’t have picked on your own, and many times they’re great books! If you don’t have a “book-buddy” you should try it. Ask your good friend for a book recommendation and recommend one in return. Ta-da! You have a new “book-buddy.” Easy!
I think that the importance of a recommendation is one of the reasons that reader reviews are so beneficial on websites like Christianbook.com or Amazon.com. A reader review gives you the opinion of a “real reader,” someone just like you, instead of an endorser who HOPEFULLY actually read the book. Most endorsers really do read the projects, but some don’t. Isn’t that sad?
Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. The book, The Shack, by William P. Young, was self-published and sold hundreds of thousands of copies because of word-of-mouth before it was picked up for traditional publication. I’m sure this isn’t the only word-of-mouth success story. I bet most bestsellers got to that level because of word-of-mouth. Money spent in marketing can be great, but if readers aren’t talking about a book, the sales aren’t going to be as good.
These days, communicating your opinion to all of your friends is one of the easiest things to do. I let my friends know through my Facebook news feed when I’m going to the gym or eating dinner–like they care. I think I’ll start using my Facebook page to promote the books I love. I want my friends to experience the same emotional connection I feel when I read my favorite books. I also want to help my favorite authors because they did such a great job writing a beautiful book! I bet my friends are going to be happy to have something interesting to read in my little news box. What about you? Are you going to endorse a book today? Feel free to do so on our blog!
I recommended Loving Frank and The Help just this morning at the coffee shop! I love to recommend books. And good thing for America’s publishing industry, I hate to lend books because there is a chance I will never get them back. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I can’t endure! Kinda like money.
Teri D. Smith
I’ll endorse Terri Blackstock’s Double Minds. Not only is it a good story, it also has a message woven in that is relevant for all Christians today.
For writers, I’ll endorse Donald Maass’s new book, The Fire in Fiction. It a perfect compliment to his Breakout Novel books. I devoured it the first time with a highlighter, and now I’m going back the second time making notes.
I’m not sure either of those authors need my puny endorsement, but then that’s what “grass roots” endorsements are all about, right? Not the Oprah’s but the girl next door.
My girlfriend and I have a mini book club of two. We trade books back and forth all the time and each of us gets the other to read something she might not have picked up before.
I have a stack of books gathering to take when I hit the Whidbey Island Writer’s Refuge in late June. I have a great time choosing the books that go with me. Right now I have Claire Cook’s new THE WILDWATER WALKING CLUB, Ayelet Waldman’s BAD MOTHER, and Kate Jacob’s COMFORT FOOD. I’ll pick up Jane Green’s new release DUNE ROAD in time for the trip, but will still need another book or two. Hopefully I’ll get some good ideas here!
I absolutely loved “Miriam’s Kitchen” by Elizabeth Ehrlich–finished it yesterday. I read it because Lauren Winner wrote a sidebar in “Christianity Today” listing her five favorite memoirs and why. This one is great for anyone interested in Jewish life and the whys of kosher. (It even includes recipes!). It gave me insight into the Jews I’ve known–and why they eat what I consider odd food–and how some of that spills over to Christianity.
Recommended! Of course I started the next book on Winner’s list and absolutely hated it, so you can’t trust everyone . . . 🙂
Oh yeah. I use the book application on FaceBook. I can list what I’m reading, what I want to read, etc.
If I find a good book, I’ll mention it on my blog, facebook, and twitter.
Actually, just did that last night with Adam, by Ted Dekker…got a few hits on Facebook/Twitter from some who’ve read it, etc…It’s fun to discuss online too.
Hey, great post today. Oh, and from yesterday, WOW, there are some FAST readers out there. 🙂
I had a friend who always used to recommend books to me. What he would do, actually, was buy a copy of a book, give it to me and tell me to read it. The only rule was that when I was done reading it if I liked it I had to pass it on to someone else to read. I love things like that where you pass a book from person to person so everyone gets to read it, and then, oftentimes in these cases, if I liked it enough after I passed on the ‘group’ copy, I would go buy my own. : ) It’s a wonderful way to spread a good book around.
James Andrew Wilson
I’ll gladly endorse:
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.
This is a classic fairy tale in every sense. Dark as a nightmare , yet equally bright as a rainbow, it is written with charming and poetic prose, and infused with characters and situations that burrow into the mind like a seed and continue to blossom long after the final page. I’d consider it something of a little masterpiece.
I read an exceptionally good book the other day. It was totally different than most Christian fiction. It’s called A Passion Denied. My review was kind of lengthy, so I’ve provided my blog link if anybody’s interested. It’s a passionate book, but it’s still Christian fiction. I think that’s why I like it so much. The characters are well-developed, plus, identical twins were part of the storyline, and I love reading about identical twins. There’s more details on this link:
I exchange books with a friend of mine who lives all the way on the other side of the country. You can ship four or five books for around $4 using the USPS media rate. I always write my first name in the front cover and the town where I live so that everybody that eventually gets the book can see how far it has traveled. She then sends the books on to other friends and they end up all over the country.
I am getting ready to send her Smoke Screen by Sandra Brown and Somewhere in Heaven (the story of Dana and Christopher Reeve).
My two top book recommenders are Wendy Lawton and Patsy Clairmont. Both manage to squeeze more reading into their lives than I do; so when they make a recommendation, I head to Amazon and load the books in my cart (or on my Kindle, if the book is available in that format)and then buy all the recommended books at once. Wendy and Patsy are like my personal shoppers because they enjoy the same books I do. For my part, I recommend books I love all the time, including to my hair stylist, random people I meet in the doctor’s waiting room, people I sit next to on the plane.
My friend keeps recommending the Shack to me, and Nicholas Sparks.
Word of mouth really is how stuff happens, I think. My sisters and I love to talk about books we’re reading.
I wonder if book recommendations from celebrities like Oprah appeal to people who love to read but aren’t sure where to start, want to try something different, or maybe don’t trust their taste in literature? In a spin off the old Starkist Tuna commercial, though, I’m don’t look for books with good taste so much as books that taste good! 🙂 Preferences vary when we read for our own enjoyment. That’s why it’s so fun to find a friend who likes what you like.
That said, as a writer, if I’m trying to get to know a publishing house you can bet that I’m going to read a few of the books they’ve published. If I’m getting acquainted with a literary agency that features a “What We’re Reading” section like yours, those recommendations sketch a helpful picture of the types of books you find appealing, and that’s a good thing to know, don’t you think?
For YA/MG books:
My recent fav is Julie Berry’s The Amaranth Enchantment.(what’s with these Mormon fairytale writers? I like this book as much as I like Shannnon Hale’s books.) I also discovered Eva Ibbotson recently and liked three of the four books of hers I’ve read–A Countess Below Stairs, The Star of Kazan, and The Dragonfly Pool. I didn’t care for the latest book published of hers–can’t even remember the name, now.
For boys, my last favorite is Eoin Colfer’s Airman.
It’s so cool that my kids are teens now. We share books all the time. Well…I guess we did that when they were into PBs and chapter books, too. They were just too little to fight with me over them back then. heh heh
I have a friend that recommends the best fantasy to me and another who does the same with Christian fiction. Also, my aunt loves to read, but after she’s finished a book, she won’t read it again. So she passes her books to me–and in turn introduces me to a lot of awesome writers!
By the way, the list of books above really makes me want to hit up Amazon! I can’t wait to add to my reading list!
The books I recommend most I’ve mentioned on previous blogs, so I won’t repeat them here for redundancy’s sake. Here’s a new one, though, a series: Terri Blackstock’s “Last Night”, “Night Light”, “True Light”, and “Dawn’s Light”. I keep coming back to this series because her concept is just incredible.
Loving the book recommendations and the “book-buddy” stories!
Lynn D., what a great point about the Oprah books! I think we all have moments when we don’t trust our taste in literature.
Also, thanks for the stellar advice about how to “research” publishing houses and agents.
Every Friday I recommend certain titles on my blog. I had been calling them “book reviews,” but after Wendy’s warnings last week, I’ve changed it to “Book Picks.” I wouldn’t bother blogging about a book I didn’t enjoy, so why call it a review?
I think word-of-mouth is definitely the best marketing tool out there. My eyes glaze over at all the bookmarks and book trailers. But if a friend says, “Hey, you’ve GOT to read this…” I take interest.
I just finished reading Jill Williamson’s By Darkness Hid (Marcher Lord Press) last night, and I’m still mulling it over. It’s a really strong book, and I’m getting ready to blog about it. Definitely will recommend this to anyone who loves Christian fantasy. And possibly my mother-in-law. (The only fantasy she’s read was Sharon Hinck’s Restorer series, and she LOVED all 3, so maybe…)
Great points! I started a blog called Books for Book Lovers (http://www.kimpayne.wordpress.com) that does exactly this. I feature books that come recommended by readers. It is completely reader driven and I can trust the recommendations.
It’s so much easier to praise another’s book than it is my own. (Whoa. Never admit that on an Agent Blog!) I write about my favorite authors all the time on my blog, recommend and review their books, interview them when they’re available. (The posts appear on my Facebook page.) I tell my friends. I give books as Christmas, birthday, all occasion gifts.
A few faves: The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson; Demon . . . a memoir by Tosca Lee; Dogwood, June Bug by Chris Fabry; an oldie but goodie Comes A Horseman by Robert Liparulo; The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight by Steven James; on the lighter side Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner; oldies but goodies Secrets, Unforgotten, Echoes by Kristen Heitzmann. Aaah, the list goes on and on. One shameless plug: The Famous One by moi.
I love word-of-mouth books. They inevitably end up as some of my all-time favorites.
Thanks for sharing the power of talking it up!
Julie Lessman’s A Passion Denied!!!
Oh my goodness!!! I love this book!! It is AMAZING!!! There are so many twists and turns – and so much romance and passion – and the HUMOR!! – OH MY GOODNESS!!! You will laugh, cry (or bawl in my case), grieve, love, and just basically LIVE LIFE with these characters!!! Julie Lessman is my new all-time favorite author, and all 3 of her books in the Daughters of Boston series are MUST HAVE’S for any Christian fiction lover’s shelf!! I will definitely be reading them over and over!!! Trust me!!! You will not be disappointed!!! And a side note – I am also BLOWN AWAY by Julie herself!! She not only an author who takes the time to actually READ her fan emails – but she actually RESPONDS to them…usually right away (like in the same day – sometimes the same hour!!) She GENUINELY CARES and LOVES her readers!!!! She is truly a cut above the rest!!!!!
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