The best books I should have read before 2013

Hemingway - book

The 2013 lists are in. From The Seattle Times[1] to The Economist,[2] from NPR[3] to Publisher’s Weekly[4] to The Paris Review[5] and even Bianca Stone’s Poetry Picks[6], everyone seems to be sharing the best books to read of the year.

In some unknown manner, I feel obligated as a reader, and a dabbler in spilled ink and exploded pens, that I should offer a list of best reads of 2013. However, when I look back at the last twelve months of reading material only a few of them were published in the last calendar year.

It is true that as a practice my family congregates at the public library at least once a week, sometimes more. And, since I am an agnostic[7] as far booksellers go, at least a couple nights a week myself and some family members can be observed wandering through the aisles of a Barnes & Noble or a used bookstore. Often I am disappointed in bookstores and libraries because they tend to focus on the bestsellers and popular trends rather than the well-written and perennial books.

So, maybe I should title the list, “the best books I should have read before 2013”. Next week I will share some of the best books I read in 2013 (that may or may not have been published during the calendar).

UPDATE: Here is my list best reads of 2013.

[1] The Seattle Times, 31 of the best titles of 2013
[2] The Economist, A bountiful offering
[3] Our Guide To 2013’s Great Reads
[4] Publisher’s Weekly, Best 20 Books of 2013
[5] The Paris Review, Best of the “Best”
[6] My Poetry Picks for 2013
[7] By agnostic, I refer to the lesser used denotation of the word meaning unwilling to commit to an opinion. This is my quiet response to local matters. Bumper stickers and posters decorate the downtown area declaring “Local is the new black” or “Choose Independents, Buy Local”. This is all well and good, but I am not dogmatic on the point. To demonize corporate retail outlets is a moral pretense that I disagree with on the grounds that the people of Asheville need work. In these economic hard times, any work is good work. Why should I shame one hard worker who is employed at Barnes & Noble and not also shame one hard worker who is employed at a local independent bookseller? Seems like undeserved discrimination to me. My preference is to visit corporate and independent bookstores alike and maintain a bookseller agnosticism in the hopes that neither employees of Barnes and Noble or Malaprop’s loss their jobs as they try to support their families and communities. And no, I am not running for city council.

Three ways for authors to promote their new book

This is obvious, but essential. Connecting with a local bookseller is vital to promoting your book. Most booksellers see your book title listed in their wholesale catalogs. All you need to do is remind them it’s there and then see if they’ll host an event. Be sure to contact the bookstore’s event coordinator, not the store’s book buyer. The PR  & Events Coordinator schedules store events like readings and book signings and is the best point of contact for a newly published author.

Consider non-bookstore venues. Schools, public libraries, or other venues may have suitable audiences for your book title. Don’t just assume that your audience only buys books at Barnes & Noble. Libraries are great places to read. I’ve read in various locations including a tavern, café, ballroom, art studio, church and several other places. One author I know had a reading at a chocolate shop. Be creative with your events.

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are great tools to promote your book. If you don’t have an account, you’re already behind. Be authentic and approachable on these sites. If you sound like you’re a pushy salesperson, you’ll lose your audience. Share with your social media audience the same way you approach your book reading audience. Make converts from social media followers to book buyers.