As a book sells more, it attracts more readers. That usually tells you the book is good, but there’s a paradox, because even bad books can sell like hot… books. Authors get more famous simply by being famous, but not all authors are famous for the right reasons. Too many are products of overexposure, holograms of someone else’s marketing genius or the result of an enormous, well-orchestrated social media campaign. Books by unknown authors are all too frequently lost to obscurity because they rarely appear on our radars. Few bookshops will stock unknown authors, few literary magazines will give them column inches and few readers will risk purchasing books by people they’ve never heard of because it’s easier and safer to stick with big names.
So how can spending a little extra time discovering unknown authors and their books change your life forever?
You’ll Amass More Individuality
For every book you read by an ultra-famous author, you lose a little independence of thought; it doesn’t matter how hard you try to cling to self-preservation. Think of the numbers. Imagine if 1,000 people all read one blockbuster book, then talk about it on the same social media platform. Eventually, no matter how many times people disagree with one another, an overall consensus will be formed in their minds – and even if the book creates the most controversy ever for being overrated or clichéd, it will still be shared, recommended and reviewed like crazy, causing yet more people to want to try it, usually because they’re simply scared of missing out.
Reading books by new voices breaks that pattern, gives us more insight into genuinely different viewpoints and challenges our version of the norm. Unknown authors say new things; it’s that simple. They are less likely to be obsessed with writing about bandwagon themes or merging their messages with current trends. Unknown authors have less to lose, so they risk more. Often this rebellion and fearlessness causes better books to be written, books that contain characters that are more believable, flawed in more convincing, realistic ways, books that resonate more powerfully with readers and go to places famous authors under the constant pressure of sales would never dare.
You’ll Be Braver
Ever heard another reader say, “When I find an author I love, I stick with them and read everything they write, even if I don’t like it”? This position is common, even understandable, but nonetheless strange. That desire to stick with what makes us feel safe is killing our deepest human instincts. Leaving behind your comfort zone is a must if you want to develop an “anything can happen” attitude towards life. Sticking with what you know is one of the best ways to feel chronically confused, lost and anxious – another paradox. You might think you feel safe and that you’re enjoying the comforting stream of known quantities, but human beings weren’t meant to see the same faces or encounter the same experiences day after day. Variety is the spice of good writing and the best way to get variety into your bookshelf is to experiment with what you don’t know or initially understand.
You’ll Be More Attractive
Men and women who are willing to push the boundaries when it comes to reading are far more likely to find a mate. If you write a dating profile, for example, and say you only read Stephen King books or anything by EL James, but no one else, you might attract a fellow fan, but you’ll have nothing to talk about apart from monsters and sex – which, admittedly, isn’t a bad idea for a hot date – but it’s still far better to demonstrate your lust for life, your open-mindedness and your willingness to try new things if you want a meaningful relationship full of excitement, adventure and mystery.
You’ll Be More Intelligent
Last but not least. Open-mindedness is not just about enjoying new perspectives and thinking flexibly. It actually increases the power of our brains. Only people who expand their awareness of new concepts trigger new connections in their heads. One of the best ways to achieve this easily is to discover and explore the work of new and less well-known authors. Even the simple act of accepting the risk of trying a book other readers were too scared to try generates additional networks between neurons. Being a daring person doesn’t always increase your risk of dying. If you dare when it comes to fiction, you can cut out the danger of being eaten by the lion and just read a great book instead.
Carla H. Krueger is ten percent angel, ninety percent rebel. Resisting conformity and daring to be different are two of the most common themes in her books.