OK. In this modern world where self-published (e)books are a realistic option, how is a reader going to discover new authors worth reading? CJ Cherryh calls this a credentials issue, and points out that we’ve long been accustomed to using publishing houses as credentials proxies. We’ve been letting the publisher’s readers read the slush piles and identify the gems among the dregs. We’ll need to develop new mechanisms, soon, unless we’re ourselves willing to plunge into an undifferentiated mass and make choices. If you’ve looked at Smashwords, you know this is a real issue; if you’ve not, you should take a gander.
Which brings us to Peter Anthony. Technically, A Town Called Immaculate wasn’t self-published–it was published under the Macmillan New Writers imprint–but he’s since gone the self-publishing route (which he calls "indie"). At this point his other published works consist of a silly concoction called Drill and Sanctimony, which sometimes reminded me of Frederick Marryat’s Mr. Midshipman Easy, and an apparently cyberpunk novel called Accelerating Returns, which I’ve not read. Both are available on the Smashwords site, as well as Amazon (where all three novels are available both electronically and between covers), but it’s not clear to me why one would select either over the large mass of other unknown authors self-publishing on both sites.
I raise this question because A Town Called Immaculate is certainly worth reading. It features a dozen well-drawn characters, a conflicted setting, and a monster Christmas storm which conspire to create a family crisis. It’s a well-plotted novel which mixes strong characterization, building tension, and some surprisingly physical humor to bring everything to a boil. There are oddly-paired couples, an ex-POW, some wonderful memories, and a delightful youngster in the mix. All in all it’s a convincing and intriguing portrait of a small town’s quirks, and a family’s love. Highly recommended.
But how do we find it? Mr. Anthony brought it to my attention pretty much by accident, as he wants to use one of my photographs for his next book’s cover. I really can’t depend on that kind of luck. I do have strategies–I watch what others recommend, keep my eye on a half-dozen websites, and read bibliographies and footnotes. I read reviews on LibraryThing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. But none of these are really strategies for finding new authors. I’m still trying.
Meantime, Peter Anthony’s an new author you might want to check out. This is a fine book.
This review was originally published on LibraryThing.