How Do Readers Find Books They Want to Read?

by | Marketing Books, Writing | 62 comments

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You can’t wait to read the next engaging book. How do you find that novel?

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In today’s world, whether authors are traditionally published or self-published, we must invest time and money in promoting our books. It would be helpful if we could put out resources into activities that help readers find books they want to read.



I’d like to know how you go about finding novels you want to read. I’ve created a list of possibilities below.


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If you would be so kind, would you write the list numbers of the two or three you mostly use into the comments section and post the comment? Or write in ones I haven’t listed that you use. That would be helpful also.




In a future post, if I have enough responses to tell us something, I’ll share the results from the comments.

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How I Find Books I Want to Read

  1. Peruse bookstores
  2. Attend book fairs
  3. Find recommendations in newspapers or other publications
  4. Act on recommendations from other readers (word of mouth)
  5. Investigate books announced through emails from authors about new books, or deals on old ones
  6. Subscribe and use suggestions from authors’ newsletters
  7. Investigate books mentioned in authors’ sidebars on their blogs or websites
  8. Read mainly series and get the next book in the series
  9. Click on “Customers who bought this book, also bought …” (Amazon ads)
  10. Click on “Sponsored products related to this item …” (Amazon ads)
  11. Click on Facebook ads
  12. Click on Twitter ads
  13. Click on Goodreads ads
  14. Look at reviews and recommendations on Goodreads
  15. Peruse reviews & star ratings on online bookstore sites (Amazon, CBD, B&N)
  16. Attend Facebook parties to receive free giveaways
  17. Comment on blogs with giveaways to receive free books
  18. Belong to book sites that report deals in your genre (BookBub, Libroso)
  19. Belong to KindleUnlimited or a similar program.
  20. Go to Online Libraries
  21. Look for books on publishers’ sites
  22. Look for books by my favorite authors
  23. Investigate books promoted on Twitter
  24. Investigate books promoted on Facebook
  25. Subscribe to blogs that review books
  26. Belong to a site where I choose free books to review (Authors Cross-Promotion)
  27. Purchase box sets looking for new authors

Help learn how readers find books they want to read. Click to tweet.

Please share the way you locate your next fiction read in the comments. Thank you so much for participating.

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Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

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  1. Mary L Hamilton

    24, 22, and 4
    As a writer myself, I rarely go into bookstores anymore, because I run across so many new books being promoted in my emails and blogs, etc. I have more than enough books to read!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Same here, Mary. I love bookstores, but I live far from the big ones and don’t have time to browse. Sad. Thanks for participating.

  2. Sally Jo Pitts

    I do #1,4,5,6,7 mostly. I have a local used bookstore I peruse and have a stack of Love Inspired romance and romantic suspense novels in my to be read pile. That is the genre I’m writing in.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Sally Jo thanks for your response. I have a huge stack of books in a closet and gobs in my Kindle app!

  3. Emily Conrad

    4 & 22 for me! But for recommendations, the person needs to be one whose taste is similar to mine and has good reasons to recommend the book to me. I just read one last week for this reason, and I’m so glad I did!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Emily, thanks for your input. My sister is so good about telling me books she likes. I write them on scraps of paper and lose them. She said she’d make a list for me. Yay!

  4. Clarice G James

    This is a great tool for us writers. Thanks. My choices are 4, 5, 7, 15, 22, and 24.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Clarice. I hope we get enough responses to mean something.

  5. J.M. Hackman

    Would love to know how *teens* find books — although they’re a major part of my audience, I still struggle to find them. It seems a lot is due to word of mouth — they like to read what their friends read.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      JM, maybe you could set up a survey for teens and direct it to grandparents, parents, and teens. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Joanne Sher

    4, 7, 9 (I at least look – may not buy, but I look), and 22 are the main ones.

    Hope you do get enough info – I am definitely intrigued.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      If you were to buy, Joanne, I’m thinking you’d use one of those methods. Thanks for sending me you answers.

  7. Denise Loock

    Most books I read are word-of-mouth recommendations. I rarely go by what I see on any social media site or by Amazon stars. I also get a lot of recommendations at the writers’ conferences I attend. That often keeps me busy for a whole year.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Denise, I love word-of-mouth, especially from people who read the same genres I read.

  8. Kelly Goshorn

    4, 9 heavily; 8, 9 & 10 often. I do get emails from authors and places like bookbub. If I’m getting an author’s newlsetter, I’m probably already planning to buy their next book.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hey Kelly, Good point about newsletters. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Joanie Walker

    I like to buy books written by faculty members at writers conferences and workshops I attend as well as those written by friends. Also 20 and 22.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Joanie, thanks for adding a category and participating.


    Hi Zoe, great list! I do mostly 9, 19, 22. I avoid Twitter and Goodreads, although you didn’t ask what we DON’T do LOL.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Tanya, maybe I should put a minus 1 for the ones people hate. :0)

  11. Bonnie Winters

    Zoe, here are my top 5

    #1 online bookstores mostly for books related to subjects I care about or what I happen to be studying at the time for example: Bible Study books

    #4 books recommended by friends or books they pass on to me after they have read them

    #18 – I belonged to a site that had info on free e-books which i used to fill my M-I-L’s e-reader in the nursing home because she couldn’t afford to buy books and loved to read. Would you put Book Clubs like Writer’s Digest here? or Love inspired?

    #22 – definitely have my favorite authors and look for their books.

    One I didn’t see mentioned – Buying books from an author when you hear them in person at a church service, a conference or other venue or when they are a colleague (another pastor’s wife or writing friend). The “personal connection”

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Bonnie, another participant mentioned buying books by presenters and friends at conferences. I wish I’d thought of that. Thanks for participating.

  12. Joyce Reavis

    My top five are 1 ( when possible), 8,9, 18 and 21. I have authors that I read everything they write, but I’m always on the lookout for new authors and new books. When I find a great book, I really love when there is a series. It just allows the characters to grow and the story to progress.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Joyce, I too have authors that I read everything they write, well fiction. Thanks for participating, Joyce.

  13. Marcia Lahti

    4 (Recommendations) I especially like when my favorite authors compile lists of their favorites.
    15 (Peruse reviews & star ratings) the ratings and reviews play a big part of my choosing a book. I also read the first chapters or have Alexa read them to me.
    18 Inspired Reads is a big source of books for me. I can easily avoid smut.
    1 When I’m in bookstores I read back covers and first paragraphs, then check ratings and reviews.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Marcia, I have Inspired Reads too. I have so many books to read piled up that I haven’t read their emails in a while. Thanks for your input.

  14. Patricia Waring

    4, 3 and 22. I still read a large city newspaper and book reviews but mostly read a book someone who knows me recommends. If in a store, do look for favorite authors, too.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Pat, I have a friend that goes to the city newspaper for all the books he reads. Thanks for participating, Pat.

  15. K Dawn Byrd

    18:BookBub and also at discount stores that carry inspirational fiction (aka Ollie’s)

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Dawn, love Ollie’s for inspirational books. Thanks for participating.

  16. Katheryn Maddox Haddad

    I don’t read as many novels as I used to because I’m busy writing them. Actually, now, I read non-fiction to help me write my next book such as mine collapses, archaeological diggings, etc. But when I read more novels, my first choice was to go to the library’s used-books-for-sale section and look at the covers. If the cover depicted the era I wanted, I bought it, then took it home to read (I almost always finished them).

    I do check Amazon books by category, then read the blurb by the author, then check what else the author wrote.

    Sometimes I run across one on Twitter. Sometimes I check facebook groups that specialize in the types of historical novels I like.

    There is a bookstore in another state that carries all my books at a discount. When I visit that state, of course, I wander through the store to see what else is selling and usually end up buying a non-fiction book.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Katheryn, thanks for giving me your preferences. I’m starting to see some common behaviors emerge, but I could use more responses.

  17. Lani Wisner

    For me it is 1, 14, 18. I typically look at the ebook prices when I am at the bookstore as well. 😊

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Lani, I think checking ebook prices when people are anywhere near book sales is done often. I wish I had put that on the list. Thank you giving me your preferences.

  18. Justine McLaughlin

    Hi Zoe,
    4 and 22. I truly value book recommendations from friends with similar tastes in books and when I find an author I like, I read every book they’ve ever written and follow them online for new books if they are still living. I have also used “you may also like” recommendations on my local library’s websites. I hope this helps 🙂

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Justine, it looks like both those are popular. Thanks for participating.

  19. Katy Pistole

    Hi Zoe,
    I tend to do 1,4, 21 and 22. I got some new ideas for book-looking from your list though! I’ll have to try some of these.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Katy, thanks for sharing your preferences. I’m glad you found new ways to find books.

  20. Mimi Bennett


    Miss you!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thank you for participating, Mimi. I miss you, too!

  21. Mary Selzer

    Enjoyed reading through this list, Zoe. # 4, 8 and 22 are my ways to find books. I also look for books around a certain genre. For example, when John Grisham made legal thrillers popular, I became intrigued and began searching for other authors of legal thrillers.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Mary, searching within a genre on Amazon and other places is another way readers can find books. Thank, Mary.

  22. Jenny Brand


    I read more nonfiction than fiction, so I really want to maximize my enjoyment when I do pick a fiction book. I go to my local library and check out semi-random stuff, trying to hone my fiction selection skills. However, I don’t pick many winners that way, so return lots without finishing them! May have to try some of other methods off your list!

    No matter what method I use to find books initially, the liner notes and the reviews on the back can make or break a selection.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Jenny, I haven’t been to the library in a while. Except for yesterday. I went to two libraries. Our power was out and I went to one to work there. As soon as I set up to work, their power went out, so I drove to a library in another town. Thank you for participating, Jenny.

  23. marilyn leach

    Love this article, Zoey. The way I chose a book: 8 is most common, 1 is one I use a great deal, and 9 supplies me with some great choices. Cheers.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Marilyn for participating. I appreciate more preferences.

  24. Diane Egge

    22, 4. I read books by my favorite authors and recommendations from friends.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I appreciate your participation, Diane. Patterns are beginning to form.

  25. Gretchen A Carlson

    #4 and #14 AND browse through the libary

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Gretchen, thank you for giving us your preferences. I’ve added browse the library on the side.

  26. Toni

    4, 5, 8, 16, 18, 22, 26

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks for participating, Toni.

  27. Brad


    I find the book store choices dwindling as they take more shelf space for non-books, so I’ve quit looking there. Also, all the on-line reviews are helpful to get a better sense if I’d like the book, the language, the objectionable content…etc. And as a book-aholic, I love having one small device that contains hundreds of selected, but unread books.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I hear you, Brad, about bookstores. Thanks for participating.

  28. Cindy Ecklesdafer

    4 and 9, mostly.

    I admit that I am very picky, by necessity only, and I treasure the little time that I have to read.

    And I wish that we lived closer together!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Cindy, thank you for participating. I treasure my little reading time too. And I wish we lived closer too.

  29. Mary Manners

    4, 22, and 27 work best for me.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Mary, thanks for participating.

  30. Deborah Debord

    Hello. Mostly peruse bookstores.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks for participating, Debbie.

  31. Lynn Merrell

    # 1 but peruse a Christian Book Distributors catalog I receive in the mail. Nos. 5 and 7. Plus I may buy a book which sounds like it contains something I want to learn more about that’s promoted on a TV interview-type program. But I’m pretty picky about what I read.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Lynn, thank you for taking the time to participate.

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