Morning Meanderings… How does a reader decide what to read next despite the growing stack of options on their night table?

Morning bookish people!  Last night was so fantastic!  Brad (Navy son) and two of his buddies, Adam and Andy hung out at the house for dinner and a lot of laughter.  I love Boot Camp stories… I never get tired of them!  Brad is such a card and I can just picture the stories he shares!

Of course Navy Son trumps almost everything else going on in my life now so my banned book a day review fell off the “banned wagon” yesterday…. but only for the day!  Instead I had to pop in a very late in the evening but made the deadline review of The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society ( the pinky swear was to read it in September!)

But look at me ramble on about all things not about the post title…. SO… whats up with that?

I am so glad you asked!


I was invited to be on my first ever panel for The Twin Cities Book Festival.  I am super pumped and a little nervous…. so I am going to share with you now what they sent me and I would love to hear your thoughts on this discussion.

The Changing World Of Publishing: Getting Books To Readers

Our problem is not too few good books, but too many. How does a reader decide what to read next despite the growing stack of options on their night table? How does a new author break into a dedicated reader’s “To Be Read” queue when traditional media outlets are disappearing fast? What role will new technologies like social media play now that authors are largely responsible for promoting their books themselves?” Our panel will tackle these big questions, and invite your tips and tricks for finding great books as well! (10:30 am, Hennepin Room)

Moderated by Kevin Smokler, co-founder and CEO of and editor of the anthology Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times.

Tim Brown has worked behind the scenes at the Printer’s Row Book Festival in Chicago and at the Independent Press Center in New York City. He has also published three novels and his poetry and nonfiction have appeared in hundred of publications.

Sheila DeChantal is a bibliophile who lives in northern Minnesota. Her blog, “Book Journey,” contains reviews, interviews, and all things bookish.

Andrew Ervin is the author of Extraordinary Renditions, just out from Coffee House Press. He is also a noted reviewer of books for The Believer, New York Times Book Review, Rain Taxi Review of Books, and other fabulous periodicals.

Jeff Kamin moderates the “Books & Bars” reading series in Minneapolis, which won a City Pages Best of in 2009. He’s also a freelance writer, publicist, and event coordinator at the blog “Mustache Robots,” but only after being El Jefe to his two young boys.

Steph Opitz is the membership director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses in New York, and the former publicist at Red Hen Press in Los Angeles.

I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on the questions that will be discussed.

43 thoughts on “Morning Meanderings… How does a reader decide what to read next despite the growing stack of options on their night table?

  1. Wow! What a tough question you have to ponder and discuss!! I think the things that get me are seeing lots of great buzz around the blogosphere, getting the right pitch or having a local author event.

    1. When I agreed to do the panel they said they would send the discussion topic a little later. This showed up last night…. 😀

      I agree with you Kathy, I was thinking a lot of my book choices come from that buzz of the blogs I read… so now I am wondering how as an author trying to get themselves (and even more importantly their book) noticed, whats the best way to go about that?

  2. What an honor! And what a timely topic. Those are some tough questions, but I think the online buzz really does help. I know I’ve discovered books I never would have taken a second look at if it weren’t for various blogs. They cover such a wide breadth of genres.

    1. Right Julie H – I agree…. so how do the books/authors get the buzz going? 😀

      (I met some very passionate Minnesota authors last weekend that are very hungry to get their book noticed…. it relaly made me wonder what are the big steps to getting out there….

  3. I think there are actually so many ways for a book to connect with a reader. Sometimes something about a book just strikes a chord with me, resonates — sometimes a theme or setting.

      1. I think I am even more aware of how important this subject is after meeting all the new Minnesota authors last weekend. They are so eager to get their books out their but in many cases do not even know how to get started.

    1. Vasilly I find that too that I want to be read what I want to read…. when I want to read it. It is hard to read by a deadline and that is why I do not do too many blog tours anymore unless they are books I am truly excited to read.

  4. Book Blogs are a great place to learn about books, as well as Library Thing’s Early Reviewers list. Facebook and Twitter posts are another place to shout out about books.

    I also learn about books I want to read from Oprah’s magazine, which features the kinds of books I enjoy.

    1. It is a tough question Trisha and I am hopeful to get some clear thoughts on this prior to the event. I think I know what I want to say bout this but enjoy hearing everyone’s input as well. 🙂

  5. Oh my gosh, I know someone who’s famous!

    Seriously, Sheila, that is so cool. I’m excited for you. I read People magazine (I know, I know) and my favorite part (okay, one my favorites) is the book section where they highlight new books. Like laurelrainshow, I also read Oprah’s magazine that features books. But I have no idea how those books get mentioned! Who decides?

    More than anything, though, I make my choices based on bloggers. Once someone raves on their blog about a book and then I see someone else raving about it…I just can’t ignore all the raving 🙂 heheh. Oh, and I also pick books on Goodreads based on friends’ ratings.

    1. Lynne I think the blogging community is a huge source for book recommendations and that really is my strongest pull. Authors and publishers need to know that when the book bloggers speak – people are listening. If a book can get in their hands and start producing positive reviews…. the sky is the limit! 😀

  6. book blogs are huge…
    make sure you have a good cover…..many a book makes it into my house because i love the cover!
    make the review short …and include the 1 idea that is huge……the family dynamic, setting etc
    congrats sheila!

    1. Thanks for your input Diana – cover is a great thing to bring up because it does sell books. How often I have received a request for a book that they do not send a book pic of … seriously – I will Google the look of the book before I make a decision. The cover tells me something – it may not always be accurate but it is true that i have turned down reviewing a book due to the cover.

  7. First of all…congratulations on your invitation…

    Next of all…that is a great question and one that I often wrestle with…in spite of owning many books…ones I can not live without and will eventually read…my attention span with the TBR pile is short and I always add to it. Blogs help me become familiar with new authors and it is more the cover than the review…I hate long reviews and just don’t read them…if the cover strikes me I zip to Amazon and read the synopsis…that sways me more than anything.

    1. Patty you sound like me. I have more unread books on my shelves then read and I do purchase faster than I can read…. a lot faster.

      Great thoughts on the review Patty. I tend to prefer a medium size review. The ones that are too short I don’t really take anything away from… too long and I am afraid I may read too much…. 😀

  8. Congrats! Sounds like it will be great fun and very informative. I’m really interested to hear what they might think about how we will find books we want to read when there’s no longer a book store to go shop in (as more and more are disappearing). As bloggers, we have no end of places to learn about new books but non-bloggers often rely soley on browsing the books store.

    1. Excellent points Lisa – it is scary to see what is happening… so far I have not experienced a book store closing in my are abut when I hear of those who do it is so sad.

  9. Wow, congratulations on the panel! I think your blog is a perfect example of grass roots PR and buzz that is available to authors. You can certainly speak to that!

  10. Congrats Sheila! How cool! I think book bloggers like yourself play a huge role in what people decide to read. Thanks to you, I’ve read many great books that otherwise would have missed my radar. I think authors, especially new ones, need to connect with the book blogger and do interviews and giveaways on the blogger’s site, just like you do on your site. I love your author interviews and have purchased their books after reading the interview. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Jill… I have done the same… if there is a blog I enjoy and they bring up a book that looks interesting and they are gushing about it – chances are I am going to give it a try.

      I love it when readers say they purchased and/or read a book on my recommendation and loved it… I hope they pass on that book to others who can enjoy it too 🙂

  11. Sheila, congratulations on this … you bibliophile, you. 🙂 As others have said, the book blogs are really my primary source of finding intriguing-to-me sounding books. There’s nothing better than seeing a book that has been mentioned on a blog out in “the world” (i.e., at the library or at the bookstore) and feeling like I know it.

    You’ll do a great job on the panel representing us book bloggers and bibliophiles well. 🙂

  12. That’s so cool that you get to be on this panel and in such great company too! I agree with everyone who said “cool cover”! To me, in this overstimulated market, if a cover doesn’t grab you right away, there isn’t something to make you remember to pick it off the shelves again. Image is everything these days, right?

  13. Wonderful for you! Congratulations and best of luck pulling together an answer! It is such a prolific market now that it does seem very hard for new authors and smaller publishers to get attention. Interesting to realize that blogs like yours can have a positive (or negative on occasion) influence.

  14. What a great panel, best of luck! It sounds like a lot of fun. I think a writer needs a great cover and title, first of all. That is what will catch someone’s eye!

  15. Because there is so much out there, I’m afraid Publicity and Promotion will become more important. Getting the word out about the book, having lots of reviews and author interviews. The internet is becoming more important all the time. The book focused blogs are playing a major role in making people aware of what is out there and who the new authors are.

    when I was doing ordering, I signed up for many blogs across the spectrum of genre. There is no way to keep up with everything by reading it. By following the blogs, I know what is coming out and get a wide variety of opinions about it. Each review approaches the book from a different angle and I’ve discovered most are very honest about what they think of the books.

    When I am shopping for a book, the cover blurb is important. You can get the blurb on line, but it is quicker and easier to shop for a book and compare them in a book store. I make a “To look for” list from what I read on line, but my final decision is made by going to the store and checking out the books.

    1. Publicity and promotion is a fact Pat. I went to a Minnesota author event a couple weekends ago and after talking to an author I found that I liked the sound of his older released book. I purchased that one from him and this past week I thought I would read it. I like to look up author facts and book cover pics on line and when I did a search – even with the authors full name – this book did not come up.

      When I review it I will literally have to take a picture of the book to have a cover shot. Missed opportunities…. I know its work for the authors, but it really is how to drive sales.

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