How do you buy books?
- Can I afford it? Living on a severely restricted income, I can’t afford to pay more than $5 for a book, although I prefer it to be less than $4. On average I buy one book per week.
- Where do I get books I can afford? Mostly I buy Amazon’s Book Bub offerings. I probably take one out of twenty of the books they promote in my specific genres. And I reject about two thirds of those after reading a few pages. I’m learning to look inside before I buy.
- How do I choose which books to buy? One of the key decision-makers for me is the cover. I instantly discard anything that features weapons (except swords or bows) and monsters. I refuse to even look at a cover that has the naked torso of an oiled man with hypertrophied muscles. I also discount the cover of any fantasy novel set in the age of swords that has a female on the cover with twenty-first century dress, hair, and makeup. The design must be congruent with the era being portrayed.
- What kind of books? Since I write Fantasy and Science Fiction, naturally those are what I look for. I prefer books written by mature writers—I don’t mean old—a teenager can be just as mature as a sixty-year-old and vice versa—but someone who has polished his craft. He knows correct grammar and does his research. I love the books by authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mary Stewart, and Stephen R Lawhead, and am happy to say I have discovered many indie fantasy writers who are exceptional (see below). Intelligent plots and actions, unique, imaginative ideas, and of course, memorable characters, are all important.
- What do I avoid? One of the most clichéd plots in Fantasy is the teenager who is the only person who can save the world. It’s been so overdone, I’m surprised it’s still being written. I don’t like anything with extreme and gratuitous violence, although, but I’ll tolerate it if everything else is good. I once read a novel by a well-known fantasy author who devoted seventeen pages to describing a woman torturing a man. Overkill.
- In science fiction, I am sick of post-apocalyptic horror, and alien monsters attacking Earth. Other things I don’t go for are werewolves, zombies, and vampires. To me they seem juvenile and silly. I think there is too much horror in the real world without inventing more.
To summarize, I buy books by indie authors most of the time and am very critical. I have come across some extremely talented writers in the last few years and dread the day when their success leads them to price them out of my range, but given the quality of their books, they deserve it.
My second Top-Ten of Independent SF and Fantasy Writers
This list is not rated. It is simply in the order that I read them.
Martin Hengst – The Swordmage Trilogy
Joseph Finley – Enoch’s Device
A.G. Riddle – The Origin Mystery series
R.J. Larson – Books of the Infinite
A.E. Marling – Brood of Bones
Lindsay Buroker – The Emperor’s Edge series
Kenneth G. Bennet – Exodus 2022
Colleen Ruttan – The Cael Stone series
Andy Peloquin – Child of the Night Guild
I’d love to hear about more good Indie Writers in any genre!