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!
Maybe it’s just the geriatric millennial in me, but the concept of ghosting someone has always bothered the hell out of me. I’ve been on the receiving end of it from jobs, friends, romantic interests, and more publishers and literary agents than I can count.
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of it, too, though I try not to make a habit of it. But of course, there are those you’re better off not even trying to engage with for your own sake, like people who sell Mary Kay for a living.
Every now and then, I’ll get a string of book bloggers on Instagram wanting to review my book for a modest fee. I got a ton of these right after my book came out, and I recently got several more. Right now I am still riding on the new-ness of my book’s release, so I’m not ready to shell out for a paid book review at the moment, but I thought I’d file them away for later, so I replied to each one with a polite “What is your review policy?” which is a polite way of asking “What will you do for me, and what will it cost me?”
After the first one replied, with a predictable call to action “how does that sound to you?”, I replied honestly, saying I wasn’t interested at this time, but would consider it in the future. Back in my day, this was how we told people “this isn’t no; this is ‘not right now’.”
So imagine my surprise when the book blogger replied with an emoji (okay that wasn’t the surprising part… it is Instagram after all) – the one with the angry red face spouting expletives. It was immediately followed with a message: “No need to respond if you no intrest”
Tenuous grasp of spelling and grammar notwithstanding, I was taken aback, but when I talked to some of my younger author friends, they all said essentially the same thing – that if I wasn’t interested, I should have just not responded instead of saying thanks, but no thanks. That responding at all in a negative manner, even a polite one, was more rude than just saying nothing at all and leaving them in the lurch (after all, they’re the ones who cold called me).
Maybe I’m officially the old lady playing by outdated rules of etiquette and this is the new normal, or maybe (and I may be biased but I’m leaning this direction) they were the assholes in this situation, not me. Maybe I should put this on r/AITA and get an official judgment like the proper geriatric millennial I am. Or maybe I should just move on and not let it bother me so much; it’s not like I’m committing an unforgivable offense like putting two spaces between sentences.
When I signed my contract for Community Klepto in September 2020, I said to my publisher “surely we’ll be able to have an in-person book launch in June 2022”. Well, it was close, but it’s happening! I’ll be at BookWoman Austin on 5501 N Lamar Blvd on Monday, July 11 at 7 P.M. There’ll be more in person and online events to come, so stay tuned!
I recently went through some unpleasant shit with my lady doctor’s office and it brought up a lot of equally unpleasant and shitty feelings about my long and complicated history with lady doctors over the years, to the point that I felt compelled to sit down and write about it.
OMG y’all my cover is here and shit is getting real. Unlike my first two novels, I really didn’t have a concrete picture in mind about what the cover of this book might look like, but the designers over at She Writes Press really nailed it and I can’t stop looking at it.
In other big Community Klepto news, the book hit the data feed for all major and most independent bookseller’s websites this week so you can now find it EVERYWHERE for preorder: BookPeople, Barnes & Noble, Rainy Day Books, (and of course Amazon, too). It is available for preorder now, and I won’t stop you if you do, but it doesn’t come out ’til June so you can slow your roll a bit (unless you just really want to give yourself a nice surprise in June 2022 because you will undoubtedly have forgotten about it by then).
I was randomly scrolling through my Tweetdeck when I ran across an open submission call for poems and art about Bob Marley. I don’t often hop on these types of calls unless I have something on theme already in the hopper, but this immediately brought to mind my time at home on maternity leave with my twins, when I would play Bob Marley when I was at the end of my rope with two crying babies.
I wrote the poem one night, edited it the next, and sent it out before the submission deadline the day after that, and it was almost immediately accepted! I’ve been so busy this summer that I admit I completely missed the publication announcement, but the anthology is out now, and my poem Alexa, Play Bob Marley is the last poem in the book. Check it out and support an independent press in the process.
I had a lot of complicated thoughts of fever-induced mom guilt after COVID hit our house, and threw some of them into an essay that I put together hoping to get picked up by Working Mother magazine or something.
I never heard from them, but it was accepted by Moms Don’t Have Time to Write and the post is now live on Medium! This is my second essay to be accepted by them, so I hope that this means I could end up becoming a regular contributor as the one-year countdown to Community Klepto’s release begins.