The TBR!

CSVy_8GVAAATbLCI’ve been posting to Facebook and Twitter about my project to organize my TBR pile – both physical and virtual. I’m hoping that by putting them all into a spreadsheet I can prioritize what to read next and hopefully avoid duplications. I’m really psyched to put a dent in this list! There’s 272 print, audio and ebooks on the list. (I originally said 275, but I found a few that I had indeed read on the final pass.)

Several people asked to see the list, so here it is in order of author first name. I have my own list sorted according to my arcane set of priorities, but I didn’t want to share it that way, lest anyone get their feelings hurt.

Here it is!

Pale Queen Rising (Pale Queen Series Book 1) A. R. Kahler
Twisted Miracles (The Shadowminds) A.J. Larrieu
Mind Sweeper (Mind Sweeper Series Book 1) AE Jones
Consequences Aleatha Romig
Defeat the Darkness Alexis Morgan
Dark Warrior Unbroken Alexis Morgan
Love in the Afternoon (Feeling the Heat Book 1) Alison Packard
Atlantis Unleashed Alyssa Day
Atlantis Betrayed Alyssa Day
The Lair of the Twelve Princesses Amanda C. Davis
The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen Book 2) Amanda Stevens
The Martian Andy Weir
The Breaker’s Concubine Ann Mayburn
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Ann Patchett
Blades of the Old Empire: Book I of the Majat Code Anna Kashina
The Guild of Assassins: Book Two of The Majat Code Anna Kashina
The Majat Testing (The Majat Code) Anna Kashina
Uncommon Passion Anne Calhoun
Uncommon Pleasure Anne Calhoun
The Seal’s Rebel Librarian Anne Calhoun
The Seal’s Secret Anne Calhoun
The Seal’s Second Chance Anne Calhoun
Evening Storm Anne Calhoun
Transcendent (Irresistible Series Book 2) Anne Calhoun
Jaded Anne Calhoun
The Girl in 6E AR Torre
The Poetics Aristotle
The All You Can Dream Buffet Barbara O’Neal
Solatium (Emanations, an urban fantasy series Book 2) Becca Mills
Passion Play Beth Bernobich
The Creative Fire (Ruby’s Song) Brenda Cooper
Black Sun Rising: The Coldfire Trilogy, Book One C.S. Friedman
Crown of Shadows: The Coldfire Trilogy, Book Three C.S. Friedman
When True Night Falls: The Coldfire Trilogy, Book Two C.S. Friedman
Silk Caitlin R Kiernan
Touch Me Callie Croix
Wind Follower Carole McDonnell
Free Fall (A My Immortals Series Demons and Witches novella) Carolyn Jewel
Eyes Like Sky And Coal And Moonlight Cat Rambo
Always and Forever Cathy Kelly
With this Ring Celeste Bradley
1 Dead in Attic Chris Rose
Losing Mum and Pup Christopher Buckley
Lady of Light and Shadows CL Wilson
King of Sword and Sky CL Wilson
Queen of Song and Souls CL Wilson
Crown of Crystal Flame CL Wilson
The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key Clay Griffith
A Malady of Magicks (The Ebenezum Series Book 1) Craig Shaw Gardner
Unlovable Cynthia St. Aubin
Hot Head Damon Suede
Reluctant Concubine (Hardstorm Saga Book 1) Dana Marton
The Tao of Jung – the Way of lntegrity David Rosen
Dying Bites: The Bloodhound Files DD Barant
Dream Del Dryden
Sex on the Beach Del Dryden
Mai Tai for Two Del Dryden
Bitter Night Diana Pharaoh Francis
Charmed Life (Chronicles of Chrestomanci Book 1) Diana Wynne Jones
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Thousand Names: Book One of the Shadow Campaigns Django Wexler
The Reckoners Doranna Durgin
Storm of Reckoning Doranna Durgin
The Beauty’s Beast ED Walker
The Heaven Tree trilogy Edith Pagetter
Cheerful – By Request Edna Ferber
Erotic Poems ee cummings
Twisted Elisabeth Naughton
Slave To Pleasure Eliza Gayle
Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert
A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book One Elizabeth Hunter
The Seduction of Lady Phoebe (The Marriage Game Book 1) Ella Quinn
Strange Attractions (Berkley Sensation) Emma Holly
Master of the Game Emma Petersen
Blood Cursed Erica Hayes
Shadow Bound Erin Kellison
The Secret Heart (No Better Angels Book 1) Erin Satie
A Vampire Quintet Eugie Foster
Blood Cross: A Jane Yellowrock Novel Faith Hunter
You’re Never Weird on the Internet Felicia Day
Boomerang Bride Fiona Lowe
Dead Man’s Rain (The Markhat Files Book 2) Frank Tuttle
Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin series Book 1) G. A. Aiken
His Last Duchess Gabrielle Kimm
Sabriel (The Old Kingdom Book 1) Garth Nix
The Darkest Kiss Gena Showalter
Home Fires Gene Wolfe
Phantastes George MacDonald
Love Letters Volume 1: Obeying Desire (The Love Letters) Ginny Glass
The Duke’s Disaster Grace Burrowes
Douglas Grace Burrowes
The Lightning God’s Wife: a short story Grace Draven
The Collected Stories Grace Paley
The Lions of Al-Rassan Guy Gavriel Kay
Romancing the Holiday: We’ll Be Home for Christmas\Ask Her.. HelenKay Dimon
The Secret of the Unicorn Herge
Atonement Ian McEwan
Burn for Me Ilona Andrews
Thorn Intisar Khanani
Faery Song Isabo Kelly
Obernewtyn: The Obernewtyn Chronicles 1 Isobelle Carmody
The Golden City J. Kathleen Cheney
Renegade JA Souders
Naamah’s Curse (Moirin’s Trilogy Book 2) Jacqueline Carey
Santa Olivia Jacqueline Carey
The Golden Bough James George Frazer
Persuasion (Illustrated) Jane Austen
The King’s Viper Janine Ashbless
Warhost of Vastmark Janny Wurts
The Curse of the Mistwraith Janny Wurts
Management Skills January Rowe
Better When He’s Bad Jay Crownover
Three Hearts JC Nelson
Leopard Moon (Moon series Book 1) Jeanette Battista
Up from the Grave Jeaniene Frost
Blood Drive Jeanne C Stein
Karma Girl (The Bigtime series Book 1) Jennifer Estep
Don’t Breathe a Word: A Novel Jennifer McMahon
The Scarecrow King: A Romantic Retelling of the King.. Jill Myles
Always on My Mind Jill Shalvis
Tempted by His Target Jill Sorenson
Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) Jim Butcher
The Lady’s Secret Joanna Chambers
The Harlot Countess Joanna Shupe
Incarnate Jodi Meadows
Redshirts: Chapters 1-4 John Scalzi
Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer Jonathan L Howard
Beast (Avon Romantic Treasure) Judith Ivory
It’s in His Kiss Julia Quinn
When He was Wicked Julia Quinn
Caress of Darkness Julie Kenner
Wanted Julie Kenner
Say My Name Julie Kenner
Larcout (Fire Born, Blood Blessed Book 1) K.A. Krantz
Red Hot Holiday: Wish List\I Need You for Christmas\Breath.. K.A. Mitchell
Grave Witch Kalayna Price
Heart of the Dragon’s Realm Karalynn Lee
Inked (Cassie Palmer) Karen Chance
Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen Chronicles Karen Dales
Greywalker Kat Richardson
Spirit Gate Kate Elliott
King’s Dragon Kate Elliott
Simply Sinful Kate Pearce
A Lady’s Wish Katharine Ashe
Breakdown Katherine Amt Hanna
Everlasting Kathleen Woodiwiss
A Match Made in Texas Katie Lane
Ring in the Holidays Katie Lane
Uncommon Arrangements: Married Life in London Literary Circles Katie Roiphe
The Middle Place Kelly Corrigan
The Better Part of Darkness Kelly Gay
The Darkest Kiss Keri Arthur
Embraced in Darkness Keri Arthur
Hounded Kevin Hearne
Synthetic Dreams Kim Knox
Dark Needs at Night’s Edge Kresley Cole
Own the Wind Kristen Ashley
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor
Lethal Rider Larissa Ione
The Chocolate Rose: (A Prequel to La Vie en Roses Series) Laura Florand
The Prince of Midnight Laura Kinsale
By Royal Command Laura Navarre
Goddess With a Blade Lauren Dane
Last Night at Chateau Marmont Lauren Weisberger
Touchstone Laurie R. King
Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo
Secrets of the Sands Leona Wisoker
Grave Illusions (Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter Book 1) Lina Gardiner
Games of Command Linnea Sinclair
Hope’s Folly Linnea Sinclair
A Civil Campaign Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign (Vorkosigan Saga Book 12) Lois McMaster Bujold
Spellbent Lucy A. Snyder
Bonds of Trust & Bonds of Need Lynda Aicher
Dearest Friend Lynne Withey
The Worth of a Shell (The Stone Moon Trilogy Book 1) M.C.A. Hogarth
Blood of the Sorceress Maggie Shayne
The Raven Boys Maggie Stiefvater
Avenge Me Maisey Yates
Nightmare Ink (A Living Ink Novel) Marcella Burnard
The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 2) Margaret Atwood
Midnight Never Come Marie Brennan
Beauty and the Wolf (The Cursed Princes Book 1) Marina Myles
Undead Kama Sutra Mario Acevedo
The Woman at the Washington Zoo Marjorie Williams
Unfallen Dead Mark del Franco
Thief of Songs MCA Hogarth
The Position: A Novel Meg Wolitzer
The Ten-Year Nap Meg Wolitzer
Little Secrets Megan Hart
Hold Me Close Megan Hart
Tempted Megan Hart
A Red Hot Valentine’s Day Megan Hart
No Greater Pleasure Megan Hart
If the Shoe Fits (Unruly Royals Book 2) Megan Mulry
In Love Again (Unruly Royals Book 3) Megan Mulry
A Little Harmless Submission Melissa Schroeder
Home from the Sea Mercedes Lackey
Archer’s Voice Mia Sheridan
Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra, Book 1) (The.. Michelle Sagara
The Duke of Dark Desires (The Wild Quartet) Miranda Neville
The Importance of Being Wicked Miranda Neville
Fire Kin MJ Scott
The Magic of Recluce (saga of recluce Book 1) Modesitt Jr.
Falling Kingdoms Morgan Rhodes
Loving Frank Nancy Horan
Uprooted Naomi Novik
Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill
Fight or Flight Natalie Damschroder
Neverwhere Neil Gaiman
The Liar Nora Roberts
The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity (Daw Book.. Palmatier
Scions: Insurrection Patrice Michelle
Alphabet of Thorn Patricia McKillip
Some Boys Patty Blount
The Green Man and the Dragon Paul Broadhurst
The Winter Witch Paula Brackston
The Warded Man Peter V Brett
Plato’s Erotic Dialogues Plato
The Scroll Thief (A Tale of Ithian) R.F. Long
Love Without Blood Raz Steel
The Bridge Rebecca Rogers Maher
The Red Wolf Conspiracy Robert V.S. Redick
Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) Robin Hobb
Shadows Robin McKinley
Water – Tales of Elemental Spirits Robin McKinley
A Knot in the Grain and other stories Robin McKinley
Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits (Firebird Fantasy) Robin Mckinley
The Door in the Hedge Robin McKinley
Deeper Robin York
Fallen Roselynn Cannes
Sunset Rising: Book One S. McEachern
The Twelve Nights of Christmas (Snowkissed and Seduced!) Sarah Morgan
Rosemary and Rue: Book One of Toby Daye (October Daye Series.. Seanan McGuire
Slow Summer Kisses Shannon Stacey
Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses series Book 1) Sharon Shinn
Journey of Awakening (The Triune Stones) Shawna Thomas
It’s In His Heart (A Red River Valley Novel) Shelly Alexander
His at Night (The London Trilogy Series) Sherry Thomas
Demon’s Captive (War Tribe Book 1) Stephanie Snow
Daughter of Regals and Other Tales Stephen R Donaldson
First Blood (The Guardians series) Susan Sizemore
The Splendour Falls Susanna Kearsley
The Winter Sea Susanna Kearsley
The Admiral’s Bride (Tall, Dark and Dangerous Book 7) Suzanne Brockmann
Pirate’s Alley (Sentinels of New Orleans Book 4) Suzanne Johnson
Riding the Storm (ACRO Series Book 1) Sydney Croft
Spellbound Sylvia Day
Afterburn & Aftershock Sylvia Day
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness series Book.. Tamora Pierce
Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 Tamora Pierce
It Had to Be Him (An It Had to Be Novel Book 1) Tamra Baumann
Getting Dumped – Part 1 A Shultz Sisters Mystery Tawna Fenske
The Color of Magic (Discworld Book 1) Terry Pratchett
A Night to Surrender Tessa Dare
Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins
Vicious V. E. Schwab
Property Valerie Martin
What My Mother Gave Me Various
Rocket Dragons Ignite Various
Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs Various
Star Cruise: Marooned Veronica Scott
A Rake’s Guide To Pleasure (Zebra Historical Romance) Victoria Dahl
Fanning the Flames: A Girls’ Night Out novella (Jackson:.. Victoria Dahl
The Guy Next Door Victoria Dahl
Carolina Man Virginia Kantra
Distrust That Particular Flavor William Gibson
Spook Country William Gibson
The Xandra King Erotic Romance Collection: Celestina and the.. Xandra King
The Curious Trio Yoko Tsuno

Great News for ROGUE’S PAWN!

Rogus_Pawn_finalA lot of you have been with me for a long time. In fact, I happen to know that more than a few of you discovered me as an author via my first full-length novel, ROGUE’S PAWN, book one of my COVENANT OF THORNS trilogy. It was also my first fantasy romance, though I didn’t know what genre that was when I wrote it.

Well, I just received news that ROGUE’S PAWN will be seeing print! The book will be part of Harlequin’s Direct-to-Consumer shipment in February. For those who don’t know, this is a program where readers subscribe and received a shipment of romances each month. This means a LOT of new people will see this book! I really hope they love it.

This came as a total surprise, seeing as how this book has been out over three years now. But I’m also celebrating the serendipity here – this was a last-minute decision that came right after my move to go to writing full time. I’m calling this a yes vote from the universe.

Feeling pretty good over here!

Support the Ripped Bodice!

2506b2effb8552ba4429a45551e90e05_originalFirst of all, I’d like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love, cheering, congratulations and general pom-pon waving in response to last Friday’s post on me leaving the day job. You all overwhelmed me, sending me messages of support across all social media – and it’s so very appreciated. If I missed replying to you directly, it’s because I simply couldn’t keep up. Good problem to have! You all are awesome and wonderful and I couldn’t be taking this leap without you.

Special love to those of you who jumped for joy at the prospect of this meaning more books to read. *MWAH*

I’m settling into a new writing routine and catching up on other things – like cataloguing my teetering TBR pile so I can catch up on my reading! One new feature here, if you look to the right —->>
you’ll note that you can now sign up to follow my blog. No onus. A couple of people requested the ability to do so. There you are.

The other thing I want to mention today is this terrific Kickstarter I’d love to see everyone support. These two gals in Los Angeles are aiming to create a romance-only bookstore called The Ripped Bodice. Their taglines are “Smart Girls Read Romance” and “Purveyors of Fine Smut.” There’s been some debate on Twitter that both “ripped bodice” and “smut” hearken to romance cliches, tropes and stereotypes people aren’t proud of and would like to ditch. I enjoy the wry irony of it myself and backed at the $40 level, just so I can have the tank. 😀 Right now they’re over halfway to their funding goal with 22 days left. But the way Kickstarter works is that they don’t get any funding if they don’t meet their goal.

If you haven’t ever backed a Kickstarter campaign, it’s dead easy, totally secure and super fun. So I’m encouraging everyone to back this puppy! I’d love to sign there someday and I’m hitting up you people to help make that happen.


Leaving the Day Job

001This is a pic of my Cadmus and EPA colleagues in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2011, the same week my first Carina Press book, SAPPHIRE, released. Environmental consulting for The Cadmus Group has been my day job/primary career for 18 years, as of October 1.

Today was my last day.

Talk about a huge life change for me!

I originally took this job for what I thought would be a year or two until I could support myself as a writer. Guess THAT took a little longer than expected, huh? Eighteen years later, I’m finally taking the leap into writing full time.

However, I want to be honest with you all, because it greatly bothers me when writers represent themselves as “being a full time writer” without disclosing other sources of income. It’s a badge of honor in the writing world, to say one writes full time, as so few writers are able to make a living wage at it. Many “full time writers” are people who’ve retired and are able to live on their pensions, or those who have a salaried and benefitted spouse to take up the income slack. I feel it creates an unfair expectation in aspiring writers when people claim the badge of honor without admitting to those other income streams that allow them to pay the bills.

So, my reality is that I’ve been laid off. I’ve known about the possibility for a long time. The major project I worked on, my niche expertise in drinking water that took me to Puerto Rico, was axed right after that trip. Since then I’ve been scraping for work. Environmental consulting works much like law does – if you don’t have billable hours, you are SOL. I’ve been working on a whole variety of projects over the last few years, but nothing consistent. EPA’s priorities have shifted with money going to different and fewer projects.

Though I was originally hired in an office in Wyoming, I’ve worked from home since 2004, when Cadmus closed that office because the principal there was finally laid off for lack of billable hours. That’s been a great gig for me, as it allowed us to move to Santa Fe so my husband, David, could go back to school after early retirement and have a second career as a doctor of oriental medicine. It also allowed me a flexible schedule to write.

Over a year ago I went to full-time hourly at the company, due to lack of work. As long as I averaged 24 hours per week, I could retain my benefits. If I fell below this for more than two months in a row, then I would lose those benefits. Some months I had more work, some months less. But overall, my day job income has decreased dramatically. This hasn’t been easy as David is still building his practice (he’s about three years in) and his income varies also. Because he took early retirement, his stipend is pretty meager. For the last six years, I’ve been the primary wage earner.

After a very lean August and September at Cadmus, it came as no surprise when I got a call from one of my higher-ups. She said that I could be laid off with a severance package or go to part time hourly, with no benefits.

All these years, with the writing income gradually increasing, I’d always thought there would come a day when the writing money exceeded the day job money and I would give my notice. It never once occurred to me that I could be laid off with severance.

(A big part of me figured I’d be fired for screwing something up, frankly. I managed multi-million dollar contracts and there were so many ways to do something wrong.)

Reader, I jumped at my chance to be free.

It’s been a great experience, in all truth, with people referring to my “sterling record” and the desire to “keep me close as a valued alum.” I may subcontract back in the future if they need my niche expertise again. Because it’s a no-fault layoff, I get the severance money, plus I can cash in my stock options and also file for unemployment. A number of very smart people have advised me not to be too proud to take that last. David has had health insurance via COBRA from his retirement and I can insure both of us through the Affordable Care Act (SO glad we can do this now!) for less than the extortionate sum he’s been paying.

I’m hoping I can pull this off. If it doesn’t work, I can always look for another day job. But I’m tremendously hopeful. I’m going to try to write 5K/day, which will allow me to get some more things in the pipeline. I’m greatly looking forward to having one career and the increased mental energy of focusing on one pursuit. I’m planning to read more books, too. Maybe get some projects finished around the house.

Mostly, I feel joyfully free!

The Top X [Genre] books Every Y Should Read

CRSqSFWVAAA8mALI loved these words so much, I just had to Word Swag them. Batya Ungar-Sargon messaged them to me about my book, UNDER CONTRACT. We met when she took my workshop on consent at the RT Convention and then she asked to use that material for this terrific article she wrote on romance and feminism.

My favorite bit? “Graceful in its fealty to genre.” It’s a distressingly far too widely held opinion that writing romance is easy. The genre is derided for its highly defined tropes and inevitable happy ending. It’s true that romance readers have definite expectations – but that means it’s more difficult to write, not easier. Telling a good story, the story you want to tell, while adhering to the tropes is a delicate dance. Thus, “graceful in its fealty to genre” is one of the best accolades ever.

“Incredibly written” is pretty nice, too.

I want to talk a bit today about the Top X lists. You know the ones I mean. “The Top 100 Best Books of the Century.” “The Top Ten Fantasy Books Every Woman Should Read.” Etc, etc.

They’re proliferating more than ever because of sites like Buzzfeed, Salon and Huffington Post, which thrive on numbered lists of all kinds. Lists get clicks. Numbered lists are one of the favored varieties of Clickbait out there right now.

Writers and readers are constantly encouraged to name their “Top Whatever” lists. Favorite book, favorite author, favorite book boyfriend. For writing guest posts and articles, making lists like this can be a fairly fast and easy way to go.

I, however, think they’re dangerous.

That’s what I said – and I don’t think I’m overstating. This is why.

To me, this is another exercise in the inevitable interview question posed to anyone who’s had a microphone thrust in their face: What book is on your beside table? (A phrasing I love because they’re not actually asking “What are you reading?” and – maybe this is just me – my bedside table is a kind of TBR pile purgatory, where books can languish for years, quietly gathering dust and sneering at my procrastination.) Equally inevitable, the person will respond with A Tale of Two Cities or some such. Seriously, I considered it a drinking game there for a while, how many celebrities, politicians and other interview-friendly folks cited reading A Tale of Two Cities.

Of course, maybe it’s that everyone *starts* the book, because we all feel we SHOULD read it, and then every last one of us ditches it in bedside table purgatory because the damn thing is so stiflingly dull. (Yes, I tried to read it. Stalled on page 121, marked with a 1992 bookmark. It’s back on the bookshelf, though.)

If they don’t say A Tale of Two Cities, then it’s Great Expectations or War and Peace or Moby Dick. Right? Because everyone wants to sound smart. No one is going to say Robin McKinley’s Shadows, which is the book currently languishing on my bedside table, or Molly O’Keefe’s Everything I Left Unsaid, which I’m currently devouring on the Kindle. At any rate, all of this is evidence of the ongoing conflict between what we think we should read and what we actually read.

These lists, then, tend to reinforce the “should read” side of things, which is to say, the surface, social version, rather than the reality. In fact, many of the lists include “should” in the title, creating an onus by their very existence. Worse, because people who compose the lists want to look smart and well-read, they all tend to include the same books. The ones everyone cites as being the ones to cite.

See how this cycle perpetuates?

Maybe saying this is dangerous IS putting it a tad strongly. But I do think it’s counterproductive, continues to elevate the same group of books – which creates homogeneity – and reinforces snobbery.

Read what you want to read!

Getting More Facebook Likes

001This pic didn’t come out as well as I would have wished, because Jackson was moving so fast. But he’s perched on the back of a chair next to my treadmill desk, methodically swiping things to the floor so I’ll pay attention to him. Funny cat.

Before I forget, I’m teaching an online writing workshop starting next week, on October 18: Defying Gravity: Writing Cross-Genre and Succeeding Anyway. This is for my longtime online home chapter, the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA (FFP).

Genre definitions have a profound influence on writers’ careers. From the first queries where we must specify the book’s genre to long-term decisions about pursuing or giving up on a “dead” genre, dealing with what feels like a false construct is a necessary skill. However, following our hearts and inspiration often means tossing aside these considerations.

Or chopping them to pieces in a murderous rage.

But shedding conventions can be what sets a book apart. That’s what takes a writer’s career from midlist to break-out. So… how do you know? More—how do we find the courage to embrace a bold move?

In Wicked, the heroine Elphaba is faced with that crucial decision, of whether to choose the safe path or to risk flying on her own. This workshop will explore genre definitions and how Jeffe Kennedy went from being a “Crack Ho” – being told that her work fell in the cracks between genres – to receiving a nomination for Book of the Year and an RT Seal of Excellence for the one title each month that stands out from all the rest by an innovative twist on a familiar story or pushing genre boundaries. Participants will discuss their experiences with genre—both coloring inside the lines and stepping across them—and will leave inspired to take risks and follow their hearts.

Everyone deserves a chance to fly!

I’m teaching this by special request, so it should be big fun. 🙂

While that workshop is about breaking away from market considerations, I want to talk a bit about promoting books on social media. This is something authors are forced to think about, whether they want to or not. Accordingly, there’s tons of advice out there on the topic, Rule #1 of which tends to be along the lines of “Get More Followers!”

Recently one of my published author email loops went bananas with people offering to trade Facebook likes – as in, you like my page and I’ll like yours. They did the same with following on Twitter.

I think this is a really bad idea.

Sure, the numbers go up, which apparently satisfies Rule #1. But it’s not real. Worse, it creates a false idea of your social media reach.

Let me caveat before I go on that I’m friends with and following/followed by LOTS of authors. Hell, I’m writing this blog post for authors. Nothing at all wrong with that. In fact, networking with other authors can be important for building community and career opportunities.

However – creating a trade system with other authors to like one another’s pages does three things: It skews our lists to the wrong people, possibly diminishes our reach to real readers and skews our own perceptions.

Skewing our lists to the wrong people

We all know Facebook is a mystical bog of smoke and mirrors. They really want us to pay money to get followers to see our posts, so they mess with our reach. We try to game the system. They game it right back. It’s an eternal battle to be seen, on top of the usual discoverability battle. This may be growing more true of Twitter also. The only thing we can be sure of is that only a portion of our followers will see a given post. If all of our followers are people who are there because they’re interested in our books, at least that portion who sees a post will be them! If a portion of our followers are from reciprocal author trades … guess what?

Diminishing our reach to real readers

Yes, yes, yes – people will always argue that writers are readers, too. Of course we are! And, sure, I’ll like the pages of authors I want to keep track of. But that’s entirely because I want to, not through a trade. A trade isn’t organic. See above. We want people to follow and like us because they are ACTUALLY INTERESTED in our books. This might be more difficult, but they’ll be real followers. See below.

Skewing our own perceptions

As nice as it may be to look at our profiles and see hundreds or thousands of followers, as lovely an ego stroke as that may be, if a whole bunch of those are from author reciprocal trades, then it means nothing. Worse, it allows us to kid ourselves that we’re doing well in expanding our reach when we’re not. It’s a pleasant little fantasy and there’s no room for that in running a business. On the other hand, gaining *real* followers is a good measure of success – and one to be proud of.

Let’s get those real followers, people! Oh, and my Facebook author page is here.

What??? I *had* to give that a go. 😉