Thursday, August 09, 2007

Word of Mouth (Even Cyber Word of Mouth)...

is kinda amazing. Weird, really. As much as I've been watching the fantasy and sci-fi blogosphere I'm amazed at some things I miss until someone personally brings it my attention. For example, I'd never registered the name Tobias Buckell and hadn't, as far as I can remember, come across his books. This is especially weird because his second novel, Ragamuffin, pubbed on exactly the same day Acacia did. It's by a writer with Caribbean roots and features Caribbean characters in far flung worlds. All things considered, you'd think I'd notice this...

Fast forward a couple of months. I'm still clueless until Pat from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist drops me an email mentioning Tobias - and mentioning that Tobias was talking about liking Acacia in an interview he'd just done. Okay, cool, but one way or another I got offline before really checking Tobias out. Then, a few days later, Neth from Neth Space also mentions Tobias. Okay, I say, let me check this guy out...

And immediately it feels like he's everywhere. His Blog is great and highly trafficked. He's doing interviews. He's mentioned everywhere I look. His work sounds interesting - and his identity and objectives in his speculative fiction I greatly admire. So I drop him a few notes on his blog and he emails me straightaway. Cool...

And how did he hear of me? Word of mouth. Word of mouth! John Scalzi had slipped him an arc awhile back!

How very strange that in this world of interviews, reviews, promotions, bells and whistles of all sorts, it's a simple personal recommendation that connects two authors who for many reasons would've been on the lookout for each other - but maybe not have connected. I've got both of Tobias' books on the way to me now - and just like that he's become part of my permanent library.

About the same time I'm pondering this I notice the book my wife is reading, Tenderness of Wolves, by Stef Penney. How did she come by it? Her friend - back in Scotland, no less - recommended it. And just like that Stef Penney has another sale - to someone that hadn't a clue about her before that.

You know what my point is in all of this? Use your mouth! Spread the word about books you love. Perhaps it can help make a difference, especially among the crowded market and the visual overload anyone faces walking into a mega-book store.

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Blogger Patrick said...

«You know what my point is in all of this? Use your mouth! Spread the word about books you love. Perhaps it can help make a difference, especially among the crowded market and the visual overload anyone faces walking into a mega-book store.»

What do you think I've been doing these last two years or so!?!;-)

7:02 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Yes, yes, Patrick. I know YOU know how to spread the joy. I thank you for it. I just wanted everybody else to get into too.

It's funny, because now that I think about it my wife's family has quite a tradition of talking books. I mean, any time you sit down and visit with them the conversation will turn to "So what's good that you've read lately?" within a few minutes. In a way it seems like just polite conversation, but now that I think about it it's a lot more than that. What better thing to do during a polite conversation than turn people on to new books, authors, stories and ideas?

Next time I'm asked that question I'm going to answer it with that much more gusto.

7:16 PM  
Blogger John Dent said...

Our Family never talks books. I'm the only real reader in my family so I never have anyone to turn to to discuss all the great stuff that's coming out, or what they thought of the ending to such and such...

And that's the great thing about the web and writing courses etc... you can connect with total strangers over a piece of writing. Fabulous!

8:27 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Ahhh... That's interesting, John. A little bit of insight into the birth of a Bookie Monster!

But you guys are pros, dedicated like. What about folks that don't have websites DEDICATED to talking about books?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Neth said...

-John I'm with you on that, but at the same time, I've learned that my blog is a real gateway to talking books in the real world as well. After I get over my initial 'geek embarassment' (or whatever you want to call it), I find that I can have some great conversations that I otherwise would not have had.


It's truly amazing just how small the SFF community can feel and how easy it is and how easy it is to jump right in if you're willing. I'll always remember the surprise I had when I met John Scalzi at a local signing and that he that not only had he heard of me, but our conversation clearly indicated that he had spent some time reading my blog. That was a great ego boost.

Someday I need to make it to a big con to interact with people at personal level.

11:02 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Yep, authors certainly do pay attention, visit blogs, etc. Probably more often than you'd imagine...

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


How does your wife like Stef's book? I came across it reading a magazine that rvwed it, haven't started it yet, reading RED ROVER.

Also, too, not to hijack your site, but cool news on my front, my play "The Long Way Home" is a fianlist for the 2007 Heideman Award.

2:22 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Gudrun's enjoying Stef Penney's book a lot. She's just halfway through, but so far so good. She likes good historical fiction, stuff with flavor, hard-living, intimate details but ones that serve to tell a good story. This book, so far, has all that, with a mystery and things to be revealed thrown in as well.

And congrats on the award nomination! Good luck with it. (Let us know if you win!)

2:33 PM  
Blogger John Dent said...

Ah, a glitch deleted my comment! It was so beautiful! *sob*

You're right, it has become a lot easier to talk about books since I began reviewing them.
People who I've never seen pick up books seem to be really interested in talking about what they've read or heard about--something which I was really surprised about.
I guess that it's almost like listening to BBC Radio 2--no one wanted to admit they did it, until they realised that a lot of others were too!
Books are still seen as a largely personal thing, which to an extent, they are. But a lot of the enjoyment to be gained from books is from the communion you can have with others about a shared experience or dissecting what the meaning or intent behind the text was.
One huge example of this is the Harry Potter franchise, it's gained such popularity because people actually feel free to discuss it, even in the "Real World".

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, good luck with Acacia. I've heard nothing but good things about it. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's on my list, and I'm already telling others about it. Best wishes.

3:15 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Cool. Thanks Steven.

4:19 PM  

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