YeeHaw! A RWA Roundup

It was my first time to attend RWA and it will not be my last. My general impressions were that everyone was lovely and transparent. It was breathtaking to meet so many ladies whom I have adored, some of them for years. To come face to face with someone whose words have grown into your heart is a special pleasure I wish for everyone.

San Antonio Riverwalk

First, the disappointments.

There were a couple people I was unable to meet during the four days in San Antonio. The one who sticks out most in my mind is Rhonda Helms. I took a workshop from her a couple years ago and I wanted to tell her to her face how much I appreciated the way that workshop shaped the way I tell stories.

I so wanted to meet Lauren Dane, who writes the Rowan Summerwaite series, which I love. Sadly, she was unable to come, but I still got a book with a signed nameplate.

Lauren Dane

 

The last disappointment was that the LibraryBox experiment was an all around fail. There was not one download from it the entire time, though it was on for four days straight. I am not sure if it was the wrong venue, people just did not hear about it, or authors just are not ready. I am going to try again next year. I still think the idea has merit.

Now, for something completely different: stuff that was fabulous. Please prepare yourself for the virtual equivalent of “Wheeeeeee!”

I spent more money than you can make me admit at the Literacy Signing, but I was able to meet some authors who have crafted characters and stories which make my heart swoon. A couple times, I was so awestruck, I forgot to take pictures. Here are the ones I was especially excited about.

Catherine Coulter

This is me with Catherine Coulter. I grew up reading her romances and she was a quiet, graceful lady in person. It was an honor to meet her. The book in the picture is for my mom, who loves her new series.

Vivian Arend

Vivian Arend writes about shapeshifters and cowboys. Honestly, I have only read the shifter books. They are a special kind of crack for me and I am afraid to even venture into the cowboy ones for fear I will never return. She also rescued my purse after I left it in front of her table.

Zoe Archer

Zoe Archer writes all kinds of delicious things – scifi, historical fantasy, steampunk – and I love them all. She was on a truly fantastic panel which discussed feminism and romance. It was inspiring to be in a room listening to the panel of smart women who think critically about what they write, where the genre had been, and where it is going.

Nalini Signh

Nalini Signh writes paranormal romance and does amazing world building.

Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan writes regency historicals. She has broken away from publishing and now indie publishes. I love her books. I went to some sessions in which she was one of the speakers or the speaker. She was honest about her road to get where she is now. I appreciated her transparency and the sound advice she gave.

And then this happened:

Jax Garren

 

I occasionally review books on this site when I just can not help but tell everyone how much I love and adore a book or series. Here is the review I wrote for the Tales of the Underlight series by Jax Garren. There is a lot of swooning in the review.

After I read the series, I gushed around online about it and Jax, being the lovely person that she is, was nice back. When I realized she was at RWA, I asked to meet her over Twitter. Her response was that she was in the bar, come on down. I could not breathe, but managed to pull it together to act normal when I went down after the session I was in.

Jax is just as lovely in person as she was to me online. She lives in my state and we talked for a long time. I ran into her a few other times during the conference and I think I made a new friend, which awes me a bit.

There are a few people I forgot to get pictures of: Shannon Stacey, who writes one of the very few contemporary series I read (new book out this week!); Eloisa James, who is whip smart and nice; Danielle Monsch, who gave me some great advice; Sarah MacLean; Tessa Dare; and Julie Ann Long. It was amazing. Without fail, people would see my first timer ribbon, ask me questions, and be ridiculously nice.

Most of the sessions I went to revolved around the business of indie publishing. The panels and presenters were, without exception, transparent and full of information. I have a long to do list of things I need to get in line before I upload my first book. I think there were some in the audience who felt overwhelmed, but I was invigorated by the opportunities available in publishing if you plan, persevere, and treat it like a business.

The last night was the awards. Awards

Pictured from left to right: Michelle Boule (me!), Kelly Maher (my roommate), Stephanie Leary (a new friend from Texas), and Tara Kennedy (another new friend). The ceremony was fun, but it was so because I had great company.

Last but not least: The books.

Books

This is the haul I brought home. As I heard in many panels, “It’s all about the books.”

Amen. I am off to write. Thank you to RWA for a great conference.

Author List for RWA LibraryBox

This is going to go live as I am driving to San Antonio for the fun. I am packed and I wish I was leaving right this moment.

I wish I could tell you I had dozens of people sign up to join this experiment, but I did not. It is very easy to add content so should you be at RWA and see me, feel free to come up and ask me to add your content. I will have my laptop and LibraryBox handy.

There is a ton of other free content on the LibraryBox too. If you have a wireless device and see LibraryBox as an option, connect to it, launch a browser, and download whatever you want. I will have it with me everywhere I go at the conference starting Thursday.

That being said, I did have three ladies who opted in. I was especially tickled that Sandra Schwab, who y’all know I adore, sent her new book just out this past week! Here is the list of books on my LibraryBox for RWA, complete with blurbs.

Nicky Penttila – The Lunchbox
A surprise reunion on Valentine’s Day at New York Public Library’s main branch offers former high-school sweethearts a second chance.

Sandra Schwab – A Tangled Web
Lawrence Pelham works as a comic artist for Allan’s Miscellany. A chance meeting with a young woman dressed in mourning changes Pel’s whole life, and without his even knowing, he is thrown into a world of mystery and intrigue, where nothing is as it seems to be - especially not the woman he has given his heart to.

Her whole life Sarah Browne has been told how plain she is, how nondescript, destined to become an old maid. For years she has been her family’s dutiful nursing maid, but now a secret inheritance and an encounter with the charming Mr. Pelham seem to offer her a chance to break out of her life of duty and drudgery - if she dares to take it. Yet how could such an interesting, witty man be possibly interested in her boring self?

And so, Sarah soon find herself entangled in a web of lies and deceit, which might cost her the love of her life.

Mia West - Initiation
Bryn Talbot knows who she is: a time-traveling art thief with a list of lovers seven millennia deep. Seduction is part of her job, something she enjoys in the moment – whenever and wherever that may be – and then leaves behind. Until she gets a hot new colleague.

Bryn knows him only as Doc, the man who must keep her fit to travel, and give her the orgasms that launch her into the past. But this Doc is nothing like his predecessor. He’s younger. He’s as scarred as she is. And when Bryn pushes his buttons, this Doc finds hers and pushes back…with skill.

When Doc’s initial effort lands Bryn practically in the lap of the Roman-era blacksmith she seeks, she suspects her once-routine job is about to be reforged with white-hot intensity.

 

Discussing Indie Publishing

I have spent the last few weeks pondering indie publishing in a practical sense: what the prospects are, what kinds of things to budget for, and reading basic-how tos. Recently, there have been some reports and discussions on indie/self publishing that I have found interesting and encouraging, but not terribly surprising.

Beverly Kendall’s Self-Publishing Survey 2013 (link goes to pdf) polled 822 self-published authors about their earnings, price points, and release schedules. The overall conclusion Kendall draws from the results is that authors who spent time and money on professional presentation (graphics and editing), who wrote series instead of singles, and offered one of the series for free are out-performing what is generally reported in the press.

While success is not assured no matter the method of publishing you choose, 48.05% of self published authors earned more than $10,000 last year. In this survey, many self published authors were also published traditionally or digital first. Almost a majority of the traditionally published authors who responded (47.06%) earned more self publishing. The traditionally published authors who earned more with that route had twelve or more books out under a traditional press.

The  incomparable Chuck Wendig has a set of posts about getting self publishing to the right place. Not surprisingly, his comments are controversial to some, but I think he is bloody brilliant. The first is a call to be awesome.

The culture will need to start asking tougher questions. If we’re going to admit that self-publishing is an equal choice, then it’s time to step up and act like it. It’s time to stop acting like the little brother trailing behind big sister. Time to be practical. And professional.

Defeat naysayers with quality and effort and awesomeness so blinding they cannot see past you.

You should just go read the both posts. The follow-up explains, in true Wendig style, what readers should and should not be to an author, indies in particular.

Asking readers to be your gatekeepers is putting a lot of responsibility on the people who are paying you. Stop saying you’re going to let the readers figure it out when it comes to sorting through what’s crap and what’s not. You need to figure that out. That’s on you.

Both posts are a call to writers to hone their craft and put forth the best product possible for readers. The best product means a professional, well-produced product. We are, after all, asking readers to pay us money for stuff we made up in our heads. Wendig’s premise is held up by Kendall’s survey results. Authors who spend time and money on editing and design make more money in the long run.

Jeremy Greenfield and Dana Beth Weinburg from Digital Book World published What Advantages Do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors? A Comparison of Traditional and Indie Publishing From the Authors’ Perspective. You can read a brief summary with some charts on the blog here.

The categories in which all types of authors (aspiring, self-published, hybrid, and traditionally published) agreed traditional publishing has an advantage is a wider audience, better marketing, and the opportunity to be a bestseller. Otherwise, the categories seemed to favor self-publishing.

The most telling responses were from the hybrid authors. These authors, with a foot in both worlds, have a perspective to give a better picture of what is possible in both scenarios. They were the ones most likely to say that quality is the same regardless of being indie or traditionally published. Hybrid authors also thought their earnings potential was greater with indie publishing. I would be curious to know how many of the hybrid authors spent money on editing and graphic design.

One more note on the responses of the hybrid authors. They were more likely to think that marketing opportunities for traditional and indie publishing would be similar. I would like to know how many of them write in sub-genres which receive little or no marketing backing from their publisher.

I do disagree in part with the conclusion drawn by the authors of the survey. They list stardom as one of the motivations for going with a traditional publisher. While I would agree that some people striving for a traditional contract want to be bestsellers, the vast majority of authors just want to write compelling stories people want to read and pay a bit of money for. I do not want to make a million dollars and be on the NYT Lists. Would that be nice? Yes, but that is not my end goal. I just want to create something worth people’s time and money that they will love.

These things, and others, have led me to the same conclusion. I am saving up money to start self publishing the current series I am writing. It will take me some time to save what I think I need, but writing takes time and creating a great book takes even longer. The end result will be worth the time and effort.

–Jane, learning to be great

 

What the Golden Ticket Really Costs

I am in the process of querying the first novel in my fantasy romance series. I decided to directly query publishers, without an agent, because most of the publishers I wanted were epubs who took unagented submissions. I feel good about that decision, most days anyway, but I still have very mixed feelings about traditional publishing in general.

Disclaimer: I love books. I love reading books. Print books. Ebooks. As long as it has words in it and is a genre I like, I will read it so I am not snobby about format. I also buy my books and ebooks from a variety of sources: Amazon, used book sales, brick and mortar book stores, direct from publishers, and places like Smashwords, so I am not snobby about where the book comes from either.

The trouble comes when I start looking at numbers comparing traditional publishing to self publishing. Courtney Milan wrote an honest discussion with Ask A Mermaid recently where she discussed how to do a Profit and Loss (P&L) analysis for a book. Milan is a very successful romance author with an established author platform. She started doing P&L comparisons for books when she received an offer from Harlequin for a book she was also considering for self-publishing.

So if I only looked at the first year of my P&L, I would have said to go with Harlequin’s offer. But year two was where I thought I would get ahead: I projected about half the sales from year 1 in year 2, making the worst case scenario $12,568, the best guess scenario $39,000, and the best case scenario $77,775.

Doing the P&L this way forced me to accept that I was taking a risk—that there was a real chance that I would lose money by turning down Harlequin’s offer—but that the upside potential for the book was much, much larger by choosing to self-publish.

Milan’s established platform has allowed her to be successful publishing both traditional and self-published books. The catch here is that she had a very well established author platform.

Recently, Mike Corker, founder of Smashwords, shared a long post which analyzed the indie book market using data from Smashwords. Smashwords enables authors to publish their work and easily distribute it to all major eretailers while allowing them to retain their rights and keep 85% of the net profit. The standard net for authors from traditional publishers is 25-40% for ebooks and range from 10-20% for print.

The analysis of the data from Smashwords is fascinating in terms of title length, price points, and word count. Where it really drives home, though, is author profit:

Allow me to break it down this way.  An indie ebook author earns about $2.00 from the sale of a $2.99 book.  That book, on average, will sell four times as many units as a book priced over $10.00.  In order for a traditionally published author to earn $2.00 on an ebook sale, the book must be priced at  $11.42 (if the publisher has agency terms, as Smashwords does) or $16.00 (if it’s a wholesale publisher).  Remember, traditionally published authors earn only 25% of the net, whereas Smashwords authors earn 85% net.  If your book is traditionally published, and your publisher sells under the wholesale pricing model, you earn only about $1.25 for a book priced at $9.99, whereas an indie ebook author would earn $6.00-$8.00 at that price.

If a reader has the choice to purchase one of two books of equal quality, and one is priced at $2.99 and the other is priced at $12.99, which will they choose?

The numbers are staggering, but Corker’s last question is an important one and too often overlooked. There are buckets full of arguments for or against self-publishing. Some of those arguments have merit and some are just people being ugly to the wild child threatening the marble halls of the publishing industry.

As a reader, I choose, almost always, to buy the cheaper, equal quality book because I can only buy so many and I would rather have more for my money. If I am going to spend over $10 on an ebook, I spend a long time thinking about it. Sometimes, I spend so long considering the purchase, I forget to buy it, even for authors I love. It is the main reason why there are some very popular series on my TBR list where I am more than one book behind. I love them, but I do not $10 love them.

Not only are books and ebooks from traditional publishers often more expensive, less of that price goes back to the author. Now, I know all about overhead costs with traditional publishing. I know why publishers price their books the way they do, but there will come a day, and that day might be now, when the way we do publishing changes and those price points will change too.

I did not decide to start writing for the money. No person with any bit of sanity and self-preservation does this for the money, but that does not mean I do not compare the number 85% and 40% and see the difference between them. I may not be great at Math but I can do addition and subtraction well enough.

There are costs to self-publishing, if you do it well. Editors, book covers, and marketing take both money and time. A P&L, as Milan pointed out, is essential to understanding the business behind your book. Even with these costs, if an author intends to build a platform over the course of a lifetime, self-publishing seems to be a better deal.

Recently, an author behaved badly and ranted about how good books do not earn money but popular trash, in this case erotic romance, sells well. (The original post was deleted by the author, but Heidi Cullinan’s response is brilliant.) Writers hear advice all the time about not writing to the market and writing the story they want to tell. That is good advice, but I am realistic. I know romantic epic fantasy is not a high selling genre. I have seen editors share frankly on Twitter that people say they want fantasy and sci-fi romance, but the sales numbers do not support it.

Sadly, if you go on almost any sci-fi/fantasy blog or website which reviews or lists books, there are very few by women and even fewer with romantic elements. Without some romance, the stories always feel flat to me. I want romance in the books I read and I want to write those books. I have done enough reading on the industry now, though, to know my audience is probably going to be small. I am fine with that, but a publisher may not be fine with the smaller earning potential.

Controlling my copyright is also important to me. It is hard to imagine signing over a significant portion of copyright for a small share of the profits. It breaks my librarian heart. I have done it for non-fiction in the past and it was hard to sign that line. I did it because I knew I had to sign to get what I wanted: a pretty print book in my hands. That is not to say I did not love my non-fiction publishers and editors, I did. They were wonderful to me.

When I started talking to Mr. Rochester seriously about writing fiction, he suggested I self-publish. I shook my head. I wanted a contract with a publisher, the golden ticket of affirmation in my hand. When I told my friend Jason Griffey I was writing fiction two years ago, he immediately laid out all of the reasons I should self-publish, most of which I have discussed in this post. I told him I would think about it, but what I was really thinking was that was not for me.

I have learned in two years things I did not know then, about writing and about the industry. My opinion is still evolving, but indie publishing has grown from a squalling infant to a college graduate, eager to please and show what it can do. I think the potential for indie/self-publishing is enormous  I think the way traditional publishing stands at this moment there is no growth potential. Traditional publishing is having growth and change pains. They will figure it out eventually, but it is going to be a messy, rocky road.

I have been querying publishers for almost a year now. I am waiting on four more responses. If they all come back negative, I am going to make a detailed P&L for self-publishing, draft a plan for editing and marketing, and then move forward. If I receive an offer from one of the publishers, I am still going to do a P&L and I am going to think very long and hard about saying yes.

I want a better share of the profits. I want more control over my copyright. I also want that golden ticket of affirmation from the industry, but I want to build a platform over the course of my career more than I need a publisher’s approval.

–Jane, happy to be writing

On Being Critical Without Being a Douche

Every couple of weeks, I see authors I love remind other authors to just be nice already. Today, I came across a writer (no I will not link there) who has an entire website devoted to how much the genre they love has begun to suck and thus this person has decided to do the world the immense favor of writing non-sucking books for all of the languishing fans of that genre. I am not even going to touch the fact that this writer bashed women authors of the genre for being too touchy-feely, but stick with the main task at hand.

I understand that the range of tastes are immense and we all have our preferences, but there is a difference between bringing up critical issues with something and being a douche.

Be constructive in your criticism. If you have a complaint, explain why you believe the issue to be an issue. Painting everything or everyone else as crap because you do not like it, is not constructive. For example, in romance the rape scene as titillation, which was popular in the 80′s and 90′s, is problematic because it normalizes the belief that “she really wanted it so it’s not rape.”

I can have this opinion and not think that all authors who participated in this trope are terrible. Some of the authors I like have written books with this trope. I just choose not to like those books. If you have a problem with a trend within a genre, then talk about the trend with other adjectives that do not involve excrement or expletives.

Offer a solution to the issue at hand. If you see something wrong, offer ways that issue can be fixed or another way to handle the challenge. If there is a problem in your organization, brainstorm some ideas on how YOU can make it better. If we are talking about writing, write something different and then let your writing stand on its own merits. There is no need to bash other writers of your genre as you seek to instigate change. That brings me to my last point.

If you can not be constructive or offer a solution, be nice. If you feel you can not have a civilized discussion, do not have the discussion at all. Instead, find an author, company, or person who is doing something right and applaud them. Point out all the ways they are doing the opposite of the thing you dislike. Cheer on the people you think are doing a good job.

In the words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.”

Jacob, the BeerBrarian, has an excellent post on why men should just be nice to women already which goes along nicely with my directive to be nice. Jacob’s post is a good example of pointing out issues without being a douche. That and the gif on his post is fabulous.

Perhaps, if we all spent more time applauding the good, the bad would get less airtime and thus seek our attention less.

I do not want to be perceived as a Pollyanna. Readers who have been around for a long time know that is not me, at all.

However, when we have conversations about how we dislike this thing about a genre or that thing about a company, can we please be constructive and seek to solve the problem? If you can do neither of those things, can you choose to be nice instead? Because if you are just mean and complain about everything and everybody, you are being a douche.

–Jane, don’t be a douche

Updated to add the Wheaton quote because I did not want my nerd cred to be revoked.

Books Read in 2012

Total Books Read: 69
Most Books Read in One Month: November, 9
Least Books Read in One Month: February, August, and September all had only 4 books

Summary: As always, my list is dominated by romance, with a smattering of other things lest I become boring. There are a ton a good books on the list and a lot of returning authors I love. I could go on for paragraphs about many of them, but I will spare you. I wish I had more time to write reviews, but I can not do everything I wish. Almost everything I read was an ebook.

Favorite Reread: The rereads on my list this year were all Harry Potter books. We are reading them to Gideon and as I am doing some reading and listening, in turn, I included them. My favorite reread this year is not actually on the list because technically I did not read the entire thing, but the story is funny enough I wanted to share. While doing some research for the book I wrote last year, I wanted to flip through some books to see how they handled a couple things. I picked up Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab and started reading a few chapters in. I think I started a little before the scene with the bat. It was a quiet evening, Mr. R was playing on the computer, and I kept reading and reading and reading. Before I knew it, I had finished the entire book, again, in one sitting no less. Somewhere in Germany, Sandra is laughing at me.

Favorite New Read: I hate this category every year because I can almost never pick one. This year is no different. I have a short list of books that I positively swooned and swooned and swooned over. You must all go read these books right this moment. For different reasons, each of these books or series grabbed me and still have not let me go. Here they are:

The Blades of the Rose Series by Zoe Archer (April) – This is a great historical series with some steampunk and steamy romance. The characters are delightful and the stories, which revolve around different cultures and artifacts, are interesting and filled with adventure. The romances in all four books will delight. Archer writes dialog that sticks with you and brings her characters from the page.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (June) – This urban romance is the first in a wonderful series. You will love the main characters, but the supporting cast is equally delightful. It will make you laugh and the romance will make you grab for a glass of ice water. Urban fantasy is a saturated market, but Harrison stands out among the others. Dragon Bound won a RITA Award from RWA last year.

The Iron Duke (The Iron Seas Series) by Meljean Brook (August) – Oh My Goodness. The first two books in this series completely blew me away. Brook has a way with words that brings new worlds to life with poignancy. The steampunk world she has created in this series is gritty and damaged, but the ability of people to overcome war and circumstances shines in this novel. The hero is definitely an alpha, but he won my heart. I had given up on steampunk, but this series has be begging for more. Brook is a master.

Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant (November) – ZOMBIES! This book is part zombie thriller, part political commentary, part media commentary, and all fun. They are hilarious, tense, and sad all at once. Grant has created the best zombie book since World War Z. The pop culture references, instead of being dated, are fabulous. If you even remotely like zombies or you want to give them a try, this is a magnificent place to start. ***Repost Freely*** ***Repost Freely*** Georgia Mason Lives. ***Repost Freely*** ***Repost Freely***

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren (also November!) – November was a great month for books. This is the first of a trilogy. The next one comes out February 11th, which gives you plenty of time to read the first one. This book is set in Austin, the capitol of my home state. I adored this story because it is a beginning, one that starts with a tentative friendship between two people you fall for, hard. Plus, it has burlesque dancers which is all kinds of awesome and win. Hauk is a war veteran, horribly burned, and a member of an underground society with some steampunk elements. Jolie is a graduate student and a burlesque dancer. Their friendship and budding romance is sweet and full of all kinds of warm fuzzy things. You will never look at a sheet the same way, either. Though this is a novella, it did not strike me as too short. I am often frustrated by novellas, but this one left me just satisfied enough with the story and aching for the rest of the tale. I have so far resisted the urge to reread this, but I think I will give in right before How Beauty Saved the Beast, the second book, comes out.

January – 7
(W)hole by Ruth Madison
Falling Hard by J.K. Coi
Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabriella Charbonnet
Dangerous Magic by Alix Rickloff
Slip Point by Karalynn Lee
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Viking’s Sacrifice by Julia Knight

February – 4
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Viper’s Kiss by Shannon Curtis
Chaos Tryst by Shirin Dubbin

March – 5
Miss Foster’s Folly by Alice Gaines
Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart
Lament: the Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
Charming the Shrew by Laurin Wittig

April – 5
Hunger Aroused by Dee Carney
Rebel: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Scoundrel: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Stranger: the Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer
Warrior: The Blades of the Rose by Zoe Archer

May – 7
Super Zero by Rhonda Stapleton
Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend
Reiver’s Bride by Amanda Scott
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: the English Experience by Michael Prestwich
Ashfall by Mike Mullin

June – 6
Snowbound With a Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Chain Reaction by Zoe Archer
Ruined by Rumor by Alyssa Everett
Skies of Fire by Zoe Archer
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

July – 6
Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson
Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove
Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison
Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood
Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey

August – 4
Kilts and Kraken by Cindy Pencer Pape
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Beyond the Night by Joss Ware
Enclave by Ann Aguirre

September – 4
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
Burning Up by Angela Knight, Nalini Signh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
All He Ever Needed by Shannon Stacey
Stolen Love by Carolyn Jewel

October – 7
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Chains and Flames by G. A. Aiken
Dragon Actually by G. A. Aiken
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highly
Never Seduce A Scot by Maya Banks
Beast by Marian Churchland

November – 9
What I Did For A Duke by Julie Anne Long
Feed: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Deadline: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
Blackout: Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Heart of the Dragon Realm by Karalynn Lee
Moonlight and Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape

December – 5
All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey
Shattered Magic by Rebecca York
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
A Galactic Holiday by Anna Hackett, Stacy Gail, Sasha Summers ed. By Angela James
An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

–Jane, thinks her time this year was well spent

Authors on Twitter

I have been on Twitter since it was just a few geeks, nerds, and librarians talking about technology… and what we ate for breakfast. These days, I follow as many writers, editors, and publishers as I do librarians. I love the way Twitter works and I am invested in it because I have been on it for so long.

This morning I read a post by Jeffe Kennedy, writer and editor, on the way Twitter connects people. It pushed me to write a post that has been percolating for some time. Jeffe recently got back from RWA (Romance Writers Association) and had an offer from an agent she originally met on Twitter.

Authors should be on Twitter. Authors should not just be on Twitter to sell their books. They should do what the rest of us schmoes do on Twitter, talk about stuff we love and crazy things in the world. This is not news to many authors. I see the ones doing it well talking about how to use Twitter all the time.

I am, above all, a reader, and here is why I like authors who do social media well.

I would estimate that 99% of the books I read now come through recommendations from from authors, publishers, and just people I know (many of whom are librarians or professional book people) on Twitter. I especially pay attention to recs for other authors from authors and editors that I already adore. I place a high value on their ability to spot and identify the dross. I am busy. There are a ton of books out there and I can not read them all. Luckily, I have a few hundred “friends” online who read the same stuff I do and can tell me STA and what I need to stay up late reading.

I can tell an author I follow that I just finished their book and squee all over them, from a safe distance. You know what? All of them reply back to me and thank me for the read. I have never been ignored. They are gracious and lovely to me, a nobody. How awesome is that? I love being able to say something nice to the person that just made the last few days fly by because all I could think about was the characters they created and put to paper. On Twitter I can say, “Thanks for your hard work and your characters. They made me laugh, cry, cringe in terror, and give a big fist pump in the air.” I have never written a fan letter, but I have tweeted thanks to authors multiple times.

I start following authors for three reasons: I read a book they wrote and loved it, they write a genre I like and are on my TBR list, or they are somehow connected with a publishing group, agent, or other author I like. I keep following an author for the same reason I follow anyone else: they are authentic online. They talk about their books sometimes, but mostly they talk about their life and I like seeing windows into their days. I feel more connected to them and to the characters they write. In the long run, it makes me a loyal reader and that is what every author wants, readers who will keep reading them and tell their friends to read it too (or beat them over the head with the book/ereader until they give in already and read the book).

I like having authors in my Twitter stream because it has made the writing industry less daunting. They have taught me about the process of writing fiction, the process of editing, the process of submitting to agents and publishers, and the process of handling life with an author’s brain. They have given me the flashlight I needed to start to consider what my own options are in the dark room that is Getting A Novel Published.

The moral: Authors, you should be on Twitter. You should be on Twitter and be authentic. Have fun. Be serious. Be whimsical. Be yourself. Your readers will adore you for it and come back for more every day, hour, minute. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

–Jane, refreshed