Think about it. You suddenly hear about Author X from a friend, but when you get to the bookstore you find out you’re ten years late to the party. Author X has a dozen novels under his or her belt, and a vast career stretches out before your eyes. They might have written series or stand-alones. Some novels might have sold massively, others titles not so well but might have won an award or two.
If you want to get into Author X, where do you start?
Traditionalists might say you should start at the beginning and work your way through Author X’s career, tracking the developments of their themes, observing the subtle nuances of prose, and how they develop over time.
Others might equate high levels of sales proportionately with utility, and will say you MUST by Author X’s bestselling title to date because that’s the one EVERYONE loves and ZOMG by definition is TEH BEST. And by bestselling, I mean the one that got the most review coverage / advertising spend / award noms / best cover art. You get the picture: it had everything going in its favour.
Booksellers might direct you to their latest 3 for 2 offers. Publishers to the one most recently published (and if you wouldn’t all mind buying it on the release week so it stands a better chance of hitting the charts?)
What do authors think?
Perhaps those with commercial sapience might point readers towards the novel at the highest price-point. Hardcover royalties, if you please. Artistes might suggest their latest offering as something truly representative of the accumulation of their career. Authors with an anarchistic bent might direct you to torrent sites. (Me, I’d actually point to City of Ruin, because I think I’ve grown massively since Nights, and I would want people to enter me somewhere that shows me on my best form. First impressions count.)
What approach do you take when discovering a new old author?
Note: this was prompted by a conversation on Twitter with Next Read, when recommending where people should start with a particular author.