Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tools to Explore Your Chosen Genre

by Susan

If you are writing in a genre, you should be reading in that genre. But how do you keep up?

If you have been wise enough to befriend your local librarians, you may have learned that you can tell them the title of a book you enjoyed, and they'll point you to more like it. How do they do it? No, their superpower is not an ability to read every book published at lightning speed. They rely on readers' advisory tools that are available to you, too.

For Wyomingites (and possibly others):
These are licensed databases available through GoWYLD.net under the recommended reading header. I say "possibly others" because many libraries across the country make these available to their patrons, not just in Wyoming. Check with your local library to see what resources they offer. Even if they're not in Wyoming, they just might have them.

Search by plot, genre, age level, title, series and more. Scroll down the first page to the "Keeping Up" section for in-depth information on specific genres. Every book you click on gives you a list of subjects and other characteristics that allow you to search for more books like it. Stash your findings in a folder for one session only, or create a login. Need a little help getting started? Look under "How do I?" at the top of the screen for tutorials.

In addition to many of the same search functions as Novelist Plus, Books & Authors lets you search through a "Who, what, where, when?" interface -- character, subject, location and time period -- resulting in a nifty little Venn diagram showing how many titles they found for you. (Four 19th century English zombie books!)

For anyone:
I had plans to talk about Shelfari as well, but the site hasn't worked properly yesterday or today. If you have experience with that one, please share it in the comments!

You do need an account to use Goodreads, although you can simply tie it to your Facebook account. The "Explore" page (shown here) is a good place to take a look by genre. Goodreads is an excellent way to keep up on new books, and many people enjoy the social aspect of sharing favorite reading lists and reviews.

Another social site, and an extremely useful one if you want to easily catalog your home library. Build a library of up to 200 titles for free; enter as many as you'd like for $10 annually or a $25 lifetime payment. One of LibraryThing's features is the ability to join groups, and there are writers' groups active on the site. Build reading lists, read and share book reviews, keep track of what's on your home bookshelves, and make connections with like-minded scribblers.

A UK-based site that's been around a while. I must confess, I haven't explored it much, but I see it come up often in library circles as a recommended readers' advisory tool.

Do you write Young Adult (YA) literature? If so, Teenreads is a great resource. Follow the site on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well. 

There are plenty more out there, some very genre-specific. While you're befriending your local librarian, you might ask if they can point you to any others.

And a quick plug for two WyoPoets contests:
  1. The WyoPoets members-only chapbook deadline is coming up on October 15. Enter up to three poems, no entry fee. Not a member? It's only $20 to join
  2. The WyoPoets Eugene V. Shea National Poetry Contest is now open to everyone. Entry fee $3 plus $1 per poem. Deadline is Dec. 1, 2015

More on both contests at www.wyopoets.org/contests.html

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