When someone asks you which of your books she should read next, what do you tell her?
April 18, 2013
I had not thought about this topic much until I had the question put to me twice in the last couple of weeks.
One guy asked me which of my books he should read first.
The other person asked me which of my books she should read next.
Let me just stop and give homage to whatever gods may be for having these persons make such inquiries. That’s as good as it gets for authors.
But the questions are quite distinct.
The first person wanted to know what the best introduction to my work was.
The second had already read one of my books (two actually) and wanted to know where to go from there.
I have often talked in these blogs about the cardinal rule for Indie writers: Write multiple books.
But I had never thought about the issue that arises if someone asks a writer to pick the best book as an introduction to his whole body of work, or if someone says, “I read book A, what next?”
I suppose every writer thinks the last book she wrote is her best work. That’s the way it should be because if she is committed to honing her craft, she should get better with each book.
On the other hand, a writer may have written ten books and believe one of them is just better than the others for reasons she can’t explain. Maybe it was her first book, or her fourth, or her eighth.
The second inquiry, the one about which one should I read next, is even more difficult.
It’s Sophie’s Choice on a much smaller scale, a parent having to choose between her children.
Both these situations brought home the point that writers should always have answers ready for these sorts of questions.
The first question is easier to handle. If a reader wants an introduction to your work, you should be able to look him square in the eye and say, “I suggest you read my book, X.”
In the second example, I think it goes like this. “Which of my books have you read?” Once the reader answers, then the author knows exactly what to say. “Probably the best one to read next is my book, Y.”
Of course you could just say something stupid like, “Read all of them.”
That’s what I did.