Do you debut? Focus on first books

I only realized how few new debuts* I read when I was offered the chance to contribute to another Reader’s Shelf column in Library Journal,New Year, Nearly New Books: Favorite 2015 Debuts.” Looking back through nearly a year’s worth of reading, there weren’t very many for me to choose from, but I did really enjoy The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. If you like magic and illusion, turn-of-the-century America, and (possibly) unreliable narrators, it would be a great book to curl up with this winter.

*”New debuts” isn’t redundant, I don’t think: an author’s first book is a debut whether it was published ten years ago or ten days ago. And if it was ten years ago, then hopefully there have been a few since, and you’ve got some catching up to do!

Do you seek out debuts? I don’t make a point of it, though I certainly don’t have anything against them – if it’s recommended to me or gets glowing reviews or has a great hook, I’m just as interested in a first novel as a tenth, and discovering a new writer is a pleasure. Really, the only downside to reading a new debut is that you’ll be waiting for the next one instead of diving into an author’s backlist.

Do you like to read everything an author has written, or do you read more selectively, even if you really like the author? Do you like to read an author’s work chronologically, reverse-chronologically, or does the order not matter to you?

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4 thoughts on “Do you debut? Focus on first books

  1. As a writer myself, I’m always interested in debuts because I like seeing what the final product is of the first successful (novel-length) publishing endeavor. I don’t go looking for them on purpose, but I always try to notice where in someone’s career the book I happen to be reading falls. (Equally true of reading poetry collections, actually!)

    When it comes to reading an author’s work once I know I like them, it really depends. Series I try to read in order, obviously, especially if there are more on the way. Some authors really switch tones between series or imprints, though; I like Seanan McGuire, but won’t read any of her Mira Grant stuff because it’s too much ick for me. And I’ve definitely put away authors I used to love when they’ve made choices I just couldn’t follow (looking at you, Elizabeth George).

  2. I, too, had to think hard to figure out which of my 2015 books were debuts when asked to contribute to the column – although it ended up that I’d read quite a few. It’s such an important thing within the industry, but I think it’s something that the general public never really considers. If anything, I can imagine a reader with limited time trying to steer clear of debuts in favor of known quantities (even though there’s an equal risk of picking up the dreaded “sophomore album”). I’ve certainly never had a patron specifically request a debut! That said, I think it’s important for book people to be aware of them so we can help spread the word about those new discoveries.

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