You just finished reading a romance book that went straight to your keeper shelf. You want to continue the feel-good experience but the author doesn’t have another book available. You decide to read a different author who might give you a similar story, but where do you begin the search?
Start with bookseller algorithms, advisory databases and publisher catalogs:
The first place to go is your favorite online bookseller. Find the product page of the book you just read and look for the “also bought” or “books you may like” section. This lists what customers also bought after they purchased the book you just read.
Here’s what I see at Barnes & Noble if I look up Visions in White by Nora Roberts.
One drawback of this feature is that it often lists the author’s previous work, but you might find a similar author in the selection. The also-bought section will always be a better match than the sponsored product section. Those are advertisements that share a keyword with the book you just read.
Also, a bookseller might give recommendations through their email newsletter or at the bottom of your sales receipt. These suggestions may prove helpful, but most readers find them hit or miss. The publisher has paid for these advertising spaces and you’re receiving the information because you bought a book in the genre.
When was the last time you asked your local library for a book recommendation? The librarians don’t need to be romance readers to make suggestions because they’re trained to use readers’ advisory resources.
For example, your public library system might have a subscription to NoveList, a database of book recommendations. Some libraries allow patrons to use the database online but it does take a while to figure out the best search strategies.
If you don’t have access to a public library, try the What Should I Read Next website. It analyzes a database of readers’ favorite books and makes suggestions for your next read. Personally, I don’t find their recommendations accurate, but you may have better results.
Years ago, I had a meeting with an editor who had just bought my manuscript. I was a new author for her and it was my first book for this publishing house. During our conversation, the editor asked me if I read any books they had published. As I listed a few of my auto-buy authors, I was surprised that the authors I mentioned worked with this editor for years! (I really should have known because editorial teams are small, even in big publishing houses) Later, when we discussed authors who had influenced or work and reading habits, we discovered that our list was very similar.
This is when I realized that when I like an author, I really need to check the other authors from that publishing house. If the editor is developing projects with my favorite author, chances are she’s choosing other authors and books that I’m going to enjoy. Of course, this discovery method isn’t perfect. It’s rare to know who edited the book, and the editor isn’t going to be excited about every author or project.
But the editor is an integral part of the romance novel. She saw something special about the story and shaped it into being the best book possible. This editor also has a vision for the publisher’s book catalog. It shows in the books she’s acquiring and how she’s marketing the new releases. She knows what I’m looking for and speaks my language right in the book description.
So once you finish the book you loved, look at the spine of the book and find the name of the publishing house. You can also find the name on the back cover or on the copyright page. When you find the name of the publisher, go to their website and browse their book selection.
By the way, did you notice that I entered the same book in each resource and found wildly different results? Don’t rely on one resource to find reading recommendations!