First off, a huge Congratulations! for the winners, 20-Hour club members, and other finishers and participants of Mother Reader's 48-Hour Book Challenge is in order. I love it when people come together to do literary things.
During this weekend, when I was looking over my shelves for stuff I could read as I couldn't get to the library, I noticed a few interesting things about my bookshelf.
Oh no, you're thinking. Here she goes about that bookshelf again.
Well, yes. But I noticed there are three distinct categories of author represented there. What I tentatively call my single-title authors, repeat authors, and autobuys.
Does single-title here mean they've only published one book? Not necessarily. It just means that only one book caught my attention. This is the case with Susan Fletcher's Shadow Spinner, an interesting take on Scheherazade (though she tamed the spelling to Shahrazad for younger readers), and Meg Cabot's All American Girl, which I bought in an airport and loved, but haven't gotten around to getting the sequel yet. (And I think a friend of mine still has my copy, though she insists that she doesn't.) I haven't figured out exactly why these cases happen. Something to do with my eclectic tastes, I guess. Does anyone else see this happening to them? Any particular reasoning for it?
Repeat authors are those authors that I've bought two or more books from, or maybe all of a single series, but have stopped short of buying everything with their name attached. Examples would be Scott Westerfeld and his Uglies trilogy, which I think are the creepiest and coolest futuristic books I've ever read, and Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy, which I've seen described as a "pessimistic vision of Harry Potter's magic released in the world," which doesn't do it justice in the least. I love those books so much I'll probably be giving away a set around October. Come to that, I'll probably be giving away a set of Uglies and the rest, too. Have a big trilogy-pimp giveaway.
(In all fairness, Scott Westerfeld's well on his way to being an autobuy for me, but with my sad lack of book funds at the moment, I'm just not there yet. And I'm waiting to see if Jonathan Stroud comes out with anything new, because the Bartimaeus books are an incredibly hard act to follow.)
And the last, the autobuys, are fairly obvious. If it has their name on it, I want it. Doesn't matter if it's subject matter I've never thought of as "me", sci-fi, historical, outright weird, whatever. I want it and I will buy it. Sometimes even in hardcover.
At the moment I have one true autobuy, one borderline, and two authors where buying the next in the series amounts to autobuying. The true one is Eoin Colfer (the Artemis Fowl books, Half-Moon Investigations, The Supernaturalist, The Wish List). I realized how in love with his voice and style I was when I picked up a new book by him off the shelf, read the first page, and bought it, despite its being in hardcover and the first person (which I can stand but don't exactly seek out). He's hilarious. It makes for fun reading. But he's not afraid to tug your heartstrings either.
Borderline would be Garth Nix (the Abhorsen Trilogy, the Keys to the Kingdom, the Seventh Tower) as there are several standalones (The Ragwitch and Shade's Children) that I haven't gotten my hands on yet, and I haven't bought his newest, Lady Friday, in hardcover, despite the nasty cliffhanger at the end of Sir Thursday. I've gotten used to nasty cliffhangers from this guy. I love his writing, but he's very different from Eoin Colfer. The Abhorsen Trilogy in particular is distinctly...dark. There's no other way to put it. The stuff is dark. That's why it's one of my top-three favorite trilogies of all time. (By now, I'm sure you can guess the others.) He does have quite a bit of humor in his writing, but it's pretty black.
My two one-series wonders are D.J. MacHale (Pendragon) and, of course, J.K. Rowling. I will go out and buy their newest books in hardcover on the day of release, but I'm hoping that once those series are done, they'll come back with more.
So. Big question after a big post: What makes an autobuy for you? What keeps you coming back to an author over and over? What can make you stop short of full-on fangirling (or fanboying, as the case may be) but still keep you with an author within one series or subgenre? What can keep you from buying any more of an author's books, even if you loved the first one?
On a mostly-unrelated note, Diana Peterfreund is volunteering a lot of really good basic knowledge for anyone in the publishing industry - part one and part two. Be sure to check it out!