Oh, hello! You came to find me, but today I am over on the Drinking With Authors podcast where I have a full interview and a bonus literary briefs episode. Check out my episodes and like/share/subscribe/sacrifice a virgin because the podcast is hilarious.
Today, the Eric Hoffer Book Awards posted their list of finalists for the Montaigne Medal – an “additional distinction awarded to the most thought-provoking books” – and color me surprised, Community Klepto made the list! It feels a little strange seeing my book, with all its jokes about naked old ladies and self-motorboating, in a list among PhD-level nonfiction, but I am honored that the judges found it thought-provoking enough to nominate it for the prize.
There are a lot of book award programs out there, some good, some great, and some little more than a scammy money grab. There’s no manual that tells you which awards to apply for, and some don’t even tell you what criteria they’re judging on, so it’s all a bit of a gamble on the part of the author. The average out of pocket cost for award submissions is about $60, so while it’s not an individually expensive gamble, once you apply for half a dozen of them, they add up pretty quick.
The first award program I applied for, I did so in two categories, both of which you of course have to pay for separately: best cover and best title. Because, you know, both of them are pretty badass. I lost both, and to rub a little salt in the wound, one of the titles I lost best title to was “Bittersweet”. I still can’t roll my eyes hard enough, but congratulations to “Bittersweet” or whatever. After that, I lost another award that said it took reviews into account to a book that had only 10 reviews. Justifiably, I think, I was feeling pretty down on book awards and wondered why I bothered putting my name (and money) in all the book award hats I did.
So I was a little floored when I got an email saying that my book was a finalist for a prize I didn’t even enter. Honestly I wondered if it got sent to me by mistake, but nope – my name and the title of my book (which, let’s be honest, is SO much cooler than “Bittersweet”) were right there, plain as day, and when they posted the list of finalists this morning, my name and book title were there, too, so it’s official!
My hat’s still in the ring (why do all these metaphors involve hats?) for a few more awards, and chances are good I will likely lose a lot of them. But I’ve got a win here, and I’ll take it.
All week long, my novel Community Klepto is a featured deal with BookBub and is on sale for 99 cents on all ebook platforms! If you have an e-reading friend, snag a copy as a terrible early Valentine’s Day gift.
I’ve recently partially jumped ship from Goodreads to The Story Graph and I am absolutely loving it! It is a growing platform with a lot of great features that were either missing or bloated in Goodreads, and the staff are very responsive to customer requests. (As much as I’d love to, I am not completely abandoning Goodreads. I have too much book activity to stalk there.)
But enough about how great The Story Graph is! Their giveaway program for authors and publishers is currently in beta, and I am excited to be part of it by hosting a giveaway of Community Klepto now through the middle of February. Enter now for your chance to win an advance review copy in paperback!
Maybe it’s just a January thing, because January sucks the worst of all months, but I have been in a huge social media funk lately. More than anything, it feels like every social media monolith is living on borrowed time, or its best days are already behind it, or I’m just too old and uncool to know what the hip new thing that’s going to sell me eight bajillion books even is anymore. (I wasn’t always the Costco wardrobe shopper with a minivan that I am today, you know.)
But if you’re an author, you can’t just NOT do social media, can you? That would be career suicide… an even worse move than getting that bachelor’s degree in 18th century British literature. I mean, would it really make that much of a difference if I peaced out of every platform I hate right now?
I’m taking a little break from TikTok because I’ve started falling into the trap of spending 3 hours on a 30 second video and having it cease to be enjoyable for me. I know other 40-something authors have had a lot of luck building a following there, but I’m not one of them. While even a mediocre post will get a fair amount of views, I get very little engagement otherwise. And as rumors of a complete TikTok shutdown in the US get more and more widespread, part of me can’t help but wonder, what’s the point of spending all this time making all these videos and trying to build up a following if the rug’s just going to get yanked out from under me anyway?
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the Twitter spiral, I’ll save you the time and just tell you it is an absolute dumpster fire over there, and this makes me sad. I spent years… YEARS! building relationships with readers and fellow authors on Twitter, and now a lot of those same people are bailing for greener pastures I’ve never even heard of, and they can’t even put animated GIFs in their posts.
Because Facebook has become the place for people who now buy most of their clothing at Costco, it’s also become such a monolith for advertising that the algorithm has all but decided even non-business-y posts must pay the toll if you want people to see them. Every other post is a sponsored post predetermined by the algorithm, and I’m not about to pony up hundreds of dollars just so people can briefly chuckle at my jokes and keep scrolling.
I absolutely love what Bookstagram has done to revive the print book market with pretty spine and cover aesthetics, but I hate how it prioritizes accounts that post all the time. And if you don’t want to make reels, which is sometimes more work than making TikTok videos, the Instagram algorithm will push you down nearly to the level of the text-only plebs over at Twitter. Recently, without explanation, Instagram suspended the accounts of some authors I know and follow, and once your account is suspended, your only real option is to start over from scratch. Never mind the fact that it might have taken you years to build relationships with your followers. Better luck next time… until we suspend your account again.
It’s another platform that people are flocking away from in droves, but I still get a new review of my books on Goodreads at least once a week, so it’s not like I feel I can just shut the door on a site that I’ve been using for TWELVE YEARS. Since the FIRST Obama administration. I have imported my Goodreads data over to The Story Graph because they are the new hotness, don’t plaster ads all over the place, and don’t accept BezosBucks, but new platforms come and go all the time. Even though I dislike so many things about the platform, I don’t want to waddle back over with my bookmark between my legs and have to start all over.
Social media managers (a job that didn’t even exist 20 years ago) love to tell me the rules: which platforms I absolutely have to be on, the number of hours I have to spend on social media per week, the number of times I have to post per day. And I am a notorious rule follower. But these aren’t rules. Just because I’m an author doesn’t mean I cease to be a person with boundaries. There is no rule that says which social media platforms I have to spend my limited time on, or how much of it. Just like there’s no rule that says you have to like and subscribe to hear more of my bitching on a regular basis.
Where you participate in social media and how much is up to you, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
It’s the last day of the year, which is when I try not to think about all the different ways I failed myself. Okay, not really. 2022 was a pretty great year, and I released a pretty great book that so far no one has hated (out loud, anyway).
Here’s how I fared in 2022!
Here were the goals I set out for myself for 2022. I think the big mistake I made was putting goals on here that were completely out of my control, but I still managed to meet half of them.
Finish the novel I’m currently writing No, I didn’t finish it. But I am well over 50% and my goal for 2023 is to get it done by June.
Publish two short stories I honestly forgot I even put this as a goal. I submitted a few times but I honestly barely tried here.
Publish two poems Same story.
Read 60 books I didn’t do 60. I did WAY more than that. But more on that later…
Get 200 preorders for Community Klepto This was one of those things that was out of my control but I managed to do it anyway. Many, many of these preorders were libraries, which I would not have gotten without my positive Kirkus and Booklist reviews. But thanks to everyone who preordered my book!
Appear on Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books When I put this as a goal, I thought it was attainable. I had written a couple essays for Zibby’s blog already. Quickly, though, in 2022, the podcast featured more big names and celebrities and no one from my publisher appeared on it anymore. My publicist tried, twice, and we were shot down, twice. But I was still featured on a lot of other great podcasts.
Visit #22in22 I visited 28 different independent bookstores in 2022, and one of them I visited 18 times. My credit card statement can vouch for me.
Have a book launch at Book People Book People offered me a book launch, but only on the condition that I could guarantee at least 50 attendees (they have people to pay; I get it). I am neither delusional nor optimistic to think that was possible, so they offered me a preorder campaign instead. My book launch at Bookwoman went really well, and I went on to have several solid in-person events, which I am so thankful I got to do.
I visited 28 different bookstores in 2022, across 12 different cities and 5 different states. I swiped my credit card 58 times. I visited Book People 19 times, even though I couldn’t guarantee enough people to justify a book launch there. These were my top 6 favorite stores, in no particular order:
Lark & Owl Booksellers – Georgetown, TX Reverie Books – Austin, TX Country Bookshelf – Bozeman, MT The Painted Porch Bookshop – Bastrop, TX Boulder Bookstore – Boulder, CO Prospero’s Books – Kansas City, MO
My Goodreads reading challenge goal for the year was to read 60 books, and I exceeded that by quite a bit! I somehow managed to read 110 books with only a handful of DNFs. There were so many good ones, but these were my top 10:
If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that my top book would be about two video game developers from California and New York, I’d have said you were crazy. But damn this book was good.
I guess this means it’s time to think about my goals for next year. My goal for the new book is to have the first draft complete by June, in time for the Writer’s League of Texas Agents & Editors conference, where I hope to make some connections with agents and meet one of my other goals.
Instead of making a goal to publish short stories and poems, which I have little control over, I am going to make a goal to write them instead. And I read over 100 books this year, so it seems only fair to read at least 100 next year.
Happy New Year! Here’s to a happy and productive 2023!
In case you missed the live broadcast of my appearance on Launch Pad, the Authors on the Air podcast episode I appeared on with fellow authors Marleen Pasch, Rob Samborn, and Antonina Duridanova, it’s now on YouTube where it shall live forever! Check it out, and check out these other authors and their amazing books!
Oh, hey! You came to find me, but today I’m over on the Launch Pad show talking with fellow authors Rob Samborn, Marleen Pasch, and Antonina Duridanova and host Grace Sammon about our latest book launches.
Two weeks from today, on Tuesday, October 4, I’ll be reading at Radio Coffee and Beer in Austin, TX at the One Page Salon, a program where authors read one page from a current work in progress. I’ll be reading from the novel I’ve been working on for the better part of a year along with authors Stacey Swann (author of Olympus, Texas) and Carlisha Bell, as well as musician Bob Schneider.
It’s a free show and Radio serves both coffee and beer, as the title suggests, so come out and see me and the other performers!