I read more this year than I wrote…and that's okay!

Last year (2018), my Goodreads “Year in Review” wrap-up horrified me: I’d only read 18 books the entire year. EIGHTEEN. Sure, I’d written and published enough to make me happy, but if a writer isn’t feeding herself other people’s words, then she’s really missing out, and potentially living in a vacuum of her own words! Reading for pleasure has always been one of my biggest hobbies, and this year I swore I’d fix things. My goal was to read 50 books in 2019, and I’m happy to say that (with another week to go of Winter Break and a stack of unread books still to be conquered) I’m at 54 completed.

Plenty of people read more voraciously than me–54 books is slightly more than a book a week for the whole year–but I’m still proud of that number. My writing dropped drastically (I think this year I published one full-length book in my Christmas Key series as well as one novella, and I also finished a standalone work of fiction that I’ve been writing since 2013 that’s still unpublished) but I’ve had so many weekends and evenings where I’m completely lost in a book that I loved that it’s been worth it to take a little breather from the writing.

Some of my favorites this year have been: well…all of them! I loved the dark and twisty books I read about serial killers and FBI profiling; I adored the memoirs; I fell headlong into literary fiction, and I even sampled some mystery (probably my least favorite, to be honest.) I went on a reading jag with “beach books”–as in books that take place on beaches (specifically tropical places) and I found a series that I bought in one fell swoop because it reminded me a little of my own tropical beach series and it seemed like a good idea to read in my own genre! So it was a busy reading year, and I loved every minute of it.

As for writing…I think in 2020 I’ll aim to strike a balance. I need to start waking up early before work to get my writing time in again (totally dropped the ball on that) and then use my evenings for reading, as I’ve been doing. And now, I’m off to finish book #55 before New Year’s and to keep adding chapters to the first draft of the next book in my series, which I just officially started today!

Happy New Year and happy reading!

The catch-22 of snaring book reviews.

It’s just like finding a job, really: it’s easier to get one when you’ve already got one. But who will give you that first break? And so it’s a catch-22, of sorts. I’ve had the most luck by going to sites where you can email potential reviewers directly, find out what their reading interests are, and then send them a PDF or MOBI (Kindle ready) copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. But I do enjoy using Goodreads, so I thought I’d join a few groups (for both our Middle Grade book and my own YA novel) and see if I could use their review network to gather some feedback for our Amazon pages and our Goodreads links.

I signed up in mid-September for a popular group that caters to YA readers, and while it’s a super-organized affair (so far as I can tell), it also appears to be quite popular with authors looking for reviews, as I got wait-listed for a mid-October post. I waited and waited, so sure that I’d get at least a handful of readers on either or both books, but when my dates finally rolled around and my books got posted, I got…nothing. For days. Finally, after about a week of each book being available (and other books on the list getting 10+ readers right off the bat, with some posts getting hit with upwards of 80 comments and requests), I got one request on each book. One. For all that waiting. Now, I don’t want to be ungrateful, as I do enjoy the human interaction of communicating with people whose paths I would otherwise never cross (and both of these ladies were wonderfully kind and seemed eager to read and review the books), but I feel like I’m crawling up a rocky hill on my bare hands and knees, making about an inch of progress when my effort makes me feel like I should be covering miles!

As always, I’m cognizant of the fact that finding book visibility is HARD, and that I’m not alone in my frustration, but it still makes it feel like I’m shouting into an abyss. But I’ll keep shouting–because I still think it’s an amazingly gratifying hobby–and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my two new readers give good reviews!