I’m pretty liberal when it comes to trying new authors — I’ve purchased many books by authors I’ve never heard of based solely on the book cover! I think there are just too many good books out there to limit yourself to just a handful of “trusted” authors. That being said, there are authors whose books I will buy each time they write a new one — Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, A.J. Jacobs, Nelson DeMille, Greg Iles, Jodi Picoult, Sue Grafton. They have all earned my loyalty over the years. In the same vein, if there is an author who I tried and didn’t like, I will avoid their books at all costs — James Patterson springs to mind. I also feel sad when an author I liked goes “downhill.” This happened to me with Patricia Cornwell. I really enjoyed her Kay Scarpetta series but found it becoming downright unreadable about halfway through the series. I also found Janet Evanovich’s numbers books to be too repetitive and abandoned the series on number 9.
I would say that 80% of the books I read are by authors I have never read before. Pretty much all the reviews I’ve done so far on this book blog are by authors I had never heard of before. If a book sounds interesting to me, I’ll usually try it out. And I’ve been known to just “wing it” and buy a book based on absolutely no recommendation or information. Sometimes you get the best books that way! Last year, I tried Yann Martel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cormac McCarthy, and Audrey Niffenberger with little information– and ended up enjoying all of the books immensely.
The best find of all is when you “discover” a new to you author that already has a large amount of work that you can gorge yourself on. This happened to me with Nelson DeMille.
I will confess that book swapping sites such as Paperback Swap make it much easier to try out new authors when you aren’t paying full price for the book. If you don’t like it, you can just trade it away and get something else. However, I will buy authors I’ve never heard of and pay full price if the story seems interesting enough. I will also buy books just because I’ve heard so much buzz about them and had to see what the hype was for myself.