Saturday, October 25, 2008

Word of mouth

One of the joys of a convention such as Bouchercon is learning about authors and books one had not read before and passing on one's own knowledge. Christa Faust got me interested in Martyn Waites. I have apparently turned Dana King on to Linda L. Richards.

What authors or books have you learned about by word of mouth? What writers or books have you passed on to others in the same way? I'd be especially interested if your discoveries were outside your normal area of reading.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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24 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Jon Jordan didn't just tell me to read Greg Rucka - he put a copy of Queen and Country in my hands.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Quite a few, actually. Word o mouth turned me on to William Gibson, Flannery O'Connor, Roger Zelazny and Adrian McKinty. (That last one's your fault, Peter.)

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Oh, yes, and Lars Walker, one of the quirkier and more fascinating reads of late.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Brian said...

I'm quite hurt Peter, I talked to you about Red Baker and Robert Ward for a good 15 mins. and I didn't even even warrant a mention in your post. sniff sniff.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

R.J. Ellory who I spent 15 minutes talking to in the computer room at the Radisson. And Thomas Cavaugh, the same in the breakfast room.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, that's right. But I was going to save that for a separate post on genres one has heard about by word of mouth. I had not known about urban fantasy until we had that chat. And, yes it was quite a good fifteen minutes.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Patti, I'll add R.J. Ellory to my list once I've read him. I sought him out at Bouchercon at the urging of an Australian blogger, and he said he'd send a book my way.

I see now that I got myself in some trouble with this post. I realize how much I'd learned at Bouchercon and how difficult it is to recall all of it. But these comments will serve as a nice aide-memoire.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, that's similar to how I found Death Was the Other Woman. Linda and I had talked a few times about her work, including a schmoozy post-last-call tutorial with Eddie Muller about movies and the production code, which figure in her upcoming book. Next thing I know, she presses into my hands a copy of Death Was the Other Woman signed with a flattering message that I'm unsure I deserved. This was yet one more joy of the convention.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Good list, Loren, even without my contribution. I realize that this post is self-generating, adding to the roster of authors who might be worth looing into.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

It was word of mouth that led me to Dennis Lehane, John Harvey, Don Winslow, and John Shannon--all of whose works now crowd my bookcases.

Cheers,
Jeff

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

crimeficreader told me about John Lawton's superb historical Troy series and after reading the first chronologically and I have bought all the rest. I have no sales resistance.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Dana King said...

Counting a class I took and blogs and crime fiction web sites, I'd say most of what I read now came to me as word or mouth. I rarely read reviews (as a reviewer myself I am painfully aware of their limitations, unless from trusted sources), so word of mouth is how I have learned of James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, Declan Burke, John McFetridge, Ken Bruen. Plus, since you asked about other genres, Richard Russo and Tom Wolfe. And my non-fiction boys, Stephen Ambrose and David McCullouch.

This is, in part, why I think the effects of newspapers' limiting the size of their book sections is overblown. The web provides a great underground method of transmitting word of mouth to people as far away as Australia, which will eventually far more people than ever read daily newspapers.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jeff, as is the case with Loren's list, I'm impressed that yours contains some big crime-fiction names. I'd had the idea that readers would mention newer writers, "niche" authors or writers outside their normal areas of reading. But word of mouth turns out to be more powerful than that, able to maintain, spread and maybe even make the reputations of the bigger stars, too.

Word verification for this post: cycho, which sounds to me like Anthony Perkins on a bicycle.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, my own list grows longer thanks to your list.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, your comment adds an interesting element to my recent thoughts about newspapers and book reviews. Like many, my paper has cut back on its book coverage. It has also made the book editor’s job an afterthought, giving it to people who already have other jobs to do. The paper has been offered suggestions about how to respond to and join the move of book discussion from paper to the Web. It has ignored those suggestions.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

The most recent one for me, pre-Bouchercon, was Brian McGilloway's BORDERLANDS. I eagerly await GALLOW'S LANE publication in Canada.

What I think would be really cool, would be accessing these books directly from the blog. Recently I spent a little while reading on a Sony e-reader and while it's not totally there yet, it seems like it will be soon.

So, I can imagine a time when I come to this blog, read about a book and download it to my reader. It would be great if the blogger could also get a cut of the sale.

I know that kind of thing can be set up through Amazon and other services, but it just seems like an extra step, another middle-man we don't need.

These days writing and reading and reading about writing are all a labour of love rather than a profession - be nice to keep what little money there is to the loving labourers.

I guess if the newspapers aren't interested in moving the discussion online, and they aren't all that interested in us book people, we'll just have to move along without them.

My word verification is: nogereh. I don't know what a gereh is, so I don't know if I'm opposed...

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I've sampled the Sony e-reader, and it has much going for it. It will never allow for the easy flipping back and forth of a book, nor does it permit the helpful practice of jotting notes on a Post-it stuck on the inside cover. Still, it's convenient and easy to use, and it fits easily in the hand. But I hesitate to spring for one until the number of available books is well into the millions, and all issues of proprietary technology have been resolved. I'd hate to get stuck with a Sony machine if Toshiba invents a better one in two years and formats are incompatible.

I'm not sure newspapers have blown off books. I know my paper has, though I am mounting yet another effort to change this. I have still not quite achieved that state of detachment that will reconcile me to my newspaper's abandonment of curious, literate intelligent readers.

Maybe this is the nature of the medium, but a discovery via the Internet is somewhere between discovery by review and by word of mouth. Via blog post may be more like a traditional review, whereas making the discovery in the ensuing comments is like word of mouth.

And a thumbs up to BORDERLANDS. Brian McGilloway is also a true gent and a nice guy. He bought me a pint of Guinness in Dun Laoghaire last month, which means I'll never be able to write about him again with the critical detachment deemed necessary in the mainstream media.

October 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Borderlands has been a topic of discussion on this blog
here, including some comments from Brian McGilloway. I should warn you that Adrian McKinty took a bit of good-natured umbrage at my guess that he might be about ten years older than McGilloway. In fact, I think the gap is about five years.

October 25, 2008  
Anonymous marco said...

Peter,I fault you on McKinty too.
His review in turn convinced me to try Ronald Bennett.
I do try new things based on opinions of writers or reviewers,but they must also capture my imagination in some way.
Most of my friends don't like genre fiction,and my real life word of mouth/book lending is generally limited to non-fiction books.


word verification:lisha

October 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One factor militating against the power of reviews is the shrinking space newspapers devote to them. In addition, the Web has opened the way to discussion of older books, too, and newspapers, mine especially, have fallen behind there as well.

I sometimes think that newspapers, or at least mine, have sat down and asked themselves: "All right, we are faced with a bad situation. What can we do to make it worse?"

October 26, 2008  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

I love McFetridge's comment here best of all: it so illustrates his work. See: he coments on the details that not only would others not bother to notice, said details are so off the conscious radar, his pointing them out is like a playful noir slap. Delicious!

verification word: cutsit

Something all of us had tacitly agreed to ignore before.

October 28, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linda, John might make a good diarist or daily-newspaper columnist, turning out pensees and feuilletons and amusing but trenchant not-that-really-matters-buts.

October 28, 2008  
Blogger Brian said...

Well to be fair we had two separate conversations. One was about Red Baker walking over to Barnes & Noble and the 2nd, about urban fantasy, was on the way back. Red Baker is most certainly not an urban fantasy and should be red by all.

October 31, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Eep, so all I got wrong was one crucial detail. Maybe I ought to keep my mouth shut, keep reading, and carry a notebook at all times. Thanks.

October 31, 2008  

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