Mary's Minute: The Do's and Don'ts of Being Excited About A Book aka the Road to More Books

Recently I read a book that I ABSOLUTELY ADORED (Geekerella by Ashley Poston) and I wanted to tell everyone about it. The same day, author Adam Silvera posted on Twitter about the frustrations of books being placed on bookstore shelves and subsequently sold before their official release date. 

How are these two things connected? Well, one thing that is important to me is for the authors I love being able to write more books. And something that helps publishers pick up an author's future books (be it a sequel to an established book or another series or book altogether) is if that author's book hits the New York Times Bestseller list. USA Today is also good. Winning awards like the Newberry, National Book Award, or the Morris (etc etc) can also help, but many of those aren't necessarily reader controlled so let's save those for another discussion, maybe. Weirdly, the Goodreads Choice Awards can also help because it's reader picked (and most of those titles are bestsellers/end up on the bestseller list after they win). So I'd like to go over some do's and don'ts of being excited for a book that will hit both topics above.

DO tell the author! These magical literary creatures appreciate when people are excited about their work! It's nice to be appreciated.

DON'T beg the author for a copy. They probably don't have one to share with you, and also, I'll say it so the author doesn't have to: authors deserve to be paid for their work and they don't owe anyone a free copy. Except maybe their mom.

DO enter a giveaway or, if you have an outlet such as a blog, booktube channel, bookstagram, etc, DO request a copy from the publisher. You might win or the magical literary creatures known as publicists *may* send you a copy.

DON'T download illegal copies online. I can't say how sad and angry it makes me when I Google a book's title, and the auto-fill options include some form of "[book title] full pdf download," and I don't even have my own book. Imagine how the author feels. These are pirated books, and the author and publisher don't receive a penny. Not only are you committing THEFT by downloading, you're also encouraging the bad people who run those sites to steal MORE books from that author and others.

DON'T buy arcs. There's been much discussion about this hotly debated issue, but here's the thing: if you buy an arc from ebay or whatever, the author doesn't receive any percentage of that sale. They aren't being paid for their work. Even worse, the publisher won't count that sale. If you buy that arc but not a finished copy, you've effectively made a -1 sale because the publisher paid for the creation of that arc but they're not seeing any benefit from it. If everyone buys arcs instead final copies, not only is the author not getting paid, but the publisher thinks their books are not salable AND WILL STOP ACQUIRING BOOKS FROM THAT AUTHOR so that's a good way for you to contribute to your favorite authors losing their jobs and never writing anything again. We can have the full arc debate another day, but for now, let's just say no.

DO create reviews, playlists, book tags, videos, pictures, mood boards, cosplays, aesthetics, makeup looks, nail art, recipes, fanart, fancasts, snapchats, insta-stories, etc whether or not you have the book (well, if you're writing a review, you should definitely have read the book). Spreading the love for a book you're excited for is like Christmas for an author. These are concrete ways for the publisher to know there's interest. I will say this, though: try to post bigger things like reviews closer to release date because that has a bigger affect on sales 1-2 months pre- and post-release than 7 months in advance. Just keep that in mind.

If you have permission from the author, DO also create merchandise like themed candles, decor designs, beauty products, bookmarks, totes, etc! Same as above, but I'm including getting permission because there are some wibbly wobbly copyright laws that deal with licensing so cover your bases.

DON'T spam the author. I do think it's okay to talk to authors about their books and tell them how much you like it, but let's not go overboard.

I just think it's good social media etiquette not to tag the author in every single tweet about the book. Like how if you're in a group discussion and if someone's not responding, it's okay to drop their handle from the convo. In the thread where I talked about Geekerella, I included Ashley in the first tweet so people would know who the author is, but then I focused on the book.

DO preorder the book (if you are able). Preorders are excellent. The publisher and author can see how excitement and buzz literally translate to financial benefit. The publisher might give the author more promotion. They might do a preorder bonus (and we all love those!!). They might order more books in the first printing. They might plan a tour or any number of cool things. Also, preorders count toward the first week a book is out, which is one of the best opportunities it has to hit the bestseller list.

DO request your library purchase a copy—yes, even if you preorder a copy. I can't say how good this is. People always wonder how libraries can be good since like with used bookstores, authors won't see money from checkouts aside from the initial purchase (I've heard in England authors DO receive money from each checkout, which is super awesome & I wish that could be a thing in the US). But libraries offer exposure to readers. Library staff make lists and newsletters and displays directly aimed at our patrons and their tastes. We booktalk a LOT and do tons of readers advisory (helping library patrons find books) on a regular basis. If a book is popular, we'll buy lots of copies for all our branches in every format available AND we'll make a note to keep buying that author's books in the future. If we're on a committee, we might nominate that book for a library award or some such. Trust me: request request request! Your library probably has a request form on their website or at their customer service desks OR (and I know this might be crazy talk) you CAN actually talk to library staff people about the books you like/want to read. *gasp* I KNOW. Sounds super weird, but it WORKS.

DO request that your local bookstore (be it indie or B&N or anything else) carry it. Not only with the store order a copy for you, they'll probably get at least a couple extras. After all, since one person is asking, they assume others will too! This is SUCH an important step for mid-list and small-press authors. Your bestsellers—your Veronica Roths, Leigh Bardugos, John Greens, Sarah J. Maases, Marissa Meyers, Kiera Casses, etc—the bookstore will typically order those. But the "smaller" authors, the haven't-hit-the-list-yet authors, those guys may not have prime placement in a store or even at all. Your passion and your request can help get their books on the shelf and in front of readers. Because if readers who aren't deeply involved in the online community probably won't be aware. They go to the store and they want to buy the book in front of them; they don't want to wait. Do the work for them. Make sure your author's books are on that shelf! This is also good to do after a book is out. If you don't see it on the shelf, ask! It may be in the back or again, the store may have to order it, but they'll probably grab an extra copy or two.

If you see the book on the shelf early, DON'T buy it. If the book releases on Tuesday, February 21, it doesn't matter if you find it on the shelf on Friday, February 17 or Wednesday, January 18, buying that book early is not good! I know it's hard to wait. I KNOW. But as Adam said, if you buy that book early, the sale of that book won't be counted in the first week of sales the way preorders and actual first week sales will be. This is important because it could hurt the book's chances of listing. If you see a copy early, DO tell the bookstore it's out early and request they place it in the back until release date. They may not accommodate your request, but it never hurts to ask. It may have just been a mistake!

Once the book has released, DO post reviews on consumer websites. Goodreads is great and all, but posting reviews to consumer sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble can DIRECTLY influence shoppers' purchasing decisions. Someone who is on the fence about The Tales of Marg might scroll down to the reviews on Amazon to see if they want to buy it or not. Also, once a title reaches certain milestones on Amazon, those books get put in an algorithm that helps sell them better.

Basically: DON'T keep your excitement to yourself! DO tell your friends, family, coworkers, next-door neighbors, dog walkers, cousin's hairdresser's llama! Again, you're helping to spread the word which creates real interest. When I closed Geekerella's back cover, I immediately took to Twitter to tell EVERYONE about this amazing new book I adored and it led to some great conversations between people who have already read and loved it, people currently reading and loving it, people who were maybe on the fence about it before, and some people who hadn't heard about it at all. I felt fantastic spreading word about a book I adored, and readers' TBRs grew three sizes (okay, well one book) that day.

One thing I want to make clear is that I'm not accusing anyone of "bad behavior." We've all made errors because we didn't know doing something (like buying a book early) was not the best idea. If you buy a book early, you're doing a good thing. If you buy a book after it releases, you're doing a great thing. But if you can preorder or at least buy a book during the first week after it releases, you're doing an awesome thing. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to support books, support authors, and you could always help your fave sell more books!

Blog Tour: The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pub Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone (I think)

Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever cost.

2017 Resolutions

It's that time again when everyone takes a moment to contemplate the previous year and make plans for the new one. Here's my list of what I'd like to work on in 2017. 

Read 120 books total. This one is pretty explanatory. I used to aim for 150, but I discovered that 120 is a good number for a "bad" reading year for me, and if I go over, great.

Read at least 60 inclusive titles. Previous to 2016, my ratio of white-cishet-able books by white-cishet-able authors to diverse books by diverse authors was not so great. By September, I made a goal to actively increase the amount of diverse titles I was reading, and I did okay. In 2017, I am going to aim for at least 1/2 of the books that I read to be inclusive in some way. Although I am open to books by marginalized authors that aren't necessarily own voices or books written by non-marginalized authors as long as they contain good, inclusive rep that has been vetted such as Becky Albertalli's The Upside of Unrequieted or I.W. Gregorio's None of the Above, I do want half of those (at least) to be #ownvoices titles.

When I wrote this goal, I was initially aiming for 40, but then I realized that was way too low a goal for overall inclusivity so I decided to increase it by double. I don't think I'm asking too much of myself for 1/2 of the books I read to feature positive diverse rep. And that's still leaving room for plenty of whiter than white bread books so.

Read 50 new audiobooks. I've really gotten into audio the past couple years. It helps to have a book playing while I work or do chores or whatever. This year I read over 74 audiobooks, some of them a few times. I'm aiming slightly less than that because I'm sure I'll be doing a few more audio rereads for certain series as they conclude (like I'll listen to Illuminae & Gemina before Illuminae 3 and ACOTAR & ACOMAF before ACOWAR, etc).

Finish at least 10 series. I am so bad about finishing series. I'm great at starting them, but HORRID at finishing them. I have a Goodreads shelf called Unfinished Series that has NINETY-SEVEN books from, I think, about FIFTY series that I've started but not finished. I am not a finisher, but I want to try in 2017.

Read at least 3 entire series start-to-finish (2 backlist). If you think it's embarrassing that I have over fifty unfinished series, you might actually die if you hear which series I've never read at all. I want to pick up a couple backlist series while I'm at it and give love to older books.

Themed bingo. There are so many fun themed bingo challenges, and I want to try one. Do you have any recommendations which one I should give a whirl?

Publish 52 posts. I'm always touchy about picking resolutions for my blog because while I enjoy blogging, I always want the freedom to be able to set it aside if I need to and come back when I want. But when I did the 2016 Statistics Survey, it made me sad that I'd only posted 44 times. I want to aim for 52 so that it's about once a week, but I don't want to hem myself in with that goal so I'll go with a weekly average.

Post more reviews. I don't have a specific goal in mind here, but I want to be better about posting here about the books I love. So often I gush on Twitter and Goodreads, but I don't always post here or cross-post on retail sites where my comments can actually help sales more directly.

Cross-post old reviews. I tried to do this back in November, but I definitely didn't finish. I want to go back and cross-post all my old stuff on Amazon and B&N for sure.

Update old posts. I've tweaked my formats a little and added purchasing links over the years. I want to go back and update links in my old posts so everything is more uniform and easy to read.

Work on in-post design. I want to be better about spicing up my posts with graphics and designs. I'm trying to get used to using Canva, and I want to give PicMonkey and Creative Market a shot.

Walk 30 minutes every day. Oof. This one will be hard, but when I used to live in Tennessee, I was a lot more active, and I loved going for walks. I want to get back into this. Not only is it good for my body, it's great to destress and also listen to audiobooks.

Learn how to cook better. My mom is a really good cook, and I did not take after her. I own a ton of cookbooks, and I've found a few good ones at my library too and also pinterest exists so there's no reason not to learn how. Plus, it saves money, it's healthier, etc etc. I'm going to look into maybe a basic class if I can.

Create a library. I own a ton of books. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my personal library is large and also sort of homeless. While most of the books at my parents' house in Tennessee are housed on several shelves, my Texas books are not so lucky. They are haphazardly stacked in my living room, which is no way to truly enjoy them. Buying new shelves and organizing them is on my to-do list for 2017!

Save more money and keep to a budget. I'm a horrendously unorganized person so I want to take better control of my personal finances, set and keep a budget, and put more money away. I definitely need to trim my book-buying budget for sure, as sad as that may be, but I need to look out for the future. Plus, I work in a library. Finding books is not difficult. And, as stated before, I have a massive personal library right at home! Time to give my own books some love.

Get back to church. For several years, I've been experiences not exactly a questioning of faith but a lack of it. Now more than ever, I think it's important to have hope and work for a better world. Those two things are of complete importance, and I think going back to church and actively practicing will help.

Be more active politically. I've never been particularly active when it comes to politics. I vote in elections and... well, that's it. If 2016 has taught me anything, it's that I need to be aware of what my representatives are doing and let them know both when I agree with their words and actions and when I don't agree and want them to change course. Since the election, I've called my senators and congressman a couple times, but I'd like to be more informed on local, state, and federal levels.

2016 Statistics Survey

Thanks to Brittany at The Book Addicts Guide & Andi of Andi's ABCs for putting together the Statistics Survey 2016! Look at how my reading habits & my 2016 TBR stacked up!

Number of books read…
  • Total: 160-ish. I did a lot of rereads that I couldn't count via GR so I tend to forget those.
  • Under 250 pages (not including novellas): 4 *shakes fist at GR for counting all my audiobooks as "pages" read*
  • Between 400-449 pages: 9
  • Between 450-499 pages: 9
  • Over 500 pages: 5 (3 over 600)
  • Over 1000 pages: ZERO because ain't nobody got time for that
Number of…
  • Audiobooks: 74 (might go up one if I can get to it)
  • Re-reads: um. A lot? Every audio except three were rereads, I listened to several audiobooks multiple times, and a couple other books in physical or ebook format. So.... a lot. I'm going to hazard a guess it's somewhere around 90?
  • DNFs: none? I think? I don't like to DNF. It takes a lot. Although I did finally make a DNF shelf and move some books onto it after a permanent hiatus. In that case, 4.
Number of books rated…
  • Five Stars: 19 (10 actual books, 9 audiobooks)
  • One/Two Stars: 26 (17 actual books, 9 audiobooks)
Number of authors met in 2016: 86
Number of book events attended in 2016: 25
Number of books you read in one day: 42. But keep in mind I'm counting books that I read in 24 hours, even if it's technically over two days. When I was looking at my books on GR, I was pretty shocked how many of these are audiobooks because usually those take me several days.
Number of books that made you cry: a lot. Probably most. I'm totally a crier.
Number of 2017 books you have on pre-order: 16, I think, mostly on Amazon but one each on BD and B&N

Book read furthest away from home (vacation reads?): A Court of Mist & Fury (Baltimore, MD: 1,378 miles), First & Then audiobook (Chicago, IL: 932 miles)
Book that took you the longest to read: Book (and audio. I did both): Red Rising (20 days). Audiobooks: Wicked (1 month, 3 weeks, 5 days). Illuminae (straddled 2015/2016. 1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days). Dumplin (1 month exactly). It usually took so long because I was listening on CDs in my car instead of on my phone. If I'm not in the car much, it can take forever.
Book that you personally connected with the most: either Geekerella by Ashley Poston or The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. Both beautiful 2017 reads!
Book that made you love the villain: I don't have any where I genuinely like the villain (sad because those are fun) so I'll say A Torch Against the Night because I love to hate the commandant. She a bitch.
Book you said you’d come back to but still haven’t picked up again: embarrassingly, I have like 13 books that this has happened to. Usually it was because I started it, but something more time-sensitive pushed it away and I forgot to go back. Most embarrassingly: Last Seen Leaving and And I Darken
Book you read waaaay before it’s publication date: The Upside of Unrequited. Once this book came into my possession, there was no way I was going to wait for it, and I'm so glad I didn't.
Book you read on your birthday: Looks like Truthwitch
Book with a character who shares your name: Gemina (character literally is me. I die.). My Lady Jane (awkward. She's the villain!). Trouble Makes a Comeback (moonshiner. WTF is wrong with these characters???).
Book you weren’t entirely truthful about when rating: nope. If anything, my ratings were lower than ever this year. I had waaay too many 1 and 2 star reads.
Book you read in 2016 but already want to re-read: Well, I kinda have already reread several since I do audio rereads, but definitely Gemina, Geekerella, Upside of Unrequited, ACOMAF, This Adventure Ends, The Score, The Beauty of Darkness, and probably a few others.
Book you borrowed from a friend a long time ago and still have: Um... I think I'm pretty good about returning things, but I think Stardust, which I borrowed from a coworker in college in 2008. I literally never say this, but watch the movie instead. It's incredible.
Book you which you could go back and read for the first time again: See my want to reread list!
Most books read by one author this year: 15. I read oh so much Sarina Bowen.

Happiest & saddest: Weirdly enough, both are 2017 books. Happiest is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. It just felt so good to read! Saddest BY FAR is Goodbye Days. I didn't go a single page without crying. I kept having to take breaks to breathe and rehydrate.
Longest & shortest…
  • By page number: The Beauty of Darkness (679 pages). Blonde Date (104 pages)
  • By title: I had a lot of really long titles, but: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (9 words, 50ish characters) and Us (2 letters)
  • From buying to reading: I have no idea. I don't keep track of that sort of thing. I own FAR too many books to attempt it. 
  • Audiobooks: A Court of Mist & Fury (23 hours, 17 minutes). Blonde Date (2 hours, 25 minutes)

Best & worst…
  • Average rating on Goodreads: HighestA Court of Mist & Fury (4.74. I gave it 5). Lowest: Just Another Girl (3.31 stars. I gave it 2, but so few people have it right now. I'm sure it'll go up)
  • Books you read & your rating: Best: IT'S TOO HARD TO PICK! 5 stars to The Upside of Unrequited, Blonde DateGemina, A Court of Mist and FuryThis Adventure Ends, The Beauty of Darkness, Geekerella, Girl Against the Universe, and Trouble is a Friend of Mine. Worst: 1 star (would probably give less) to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Professional, and Wink Poppy Midnight
  • Series enders: Best: THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS YASS QUEEN LIA GET IT. Also pretty happy with The Winner's Kiss and Crooked KingdomWorst: Lady Renegades, but I was also pretty disappointed in The Goal, The Boy is Back, Us, Beautiful, and The Rose and the Dagger
  • Audiobooks: Best: 5 stars to Blonde Date (I listened to it like 7 times), Beautiful Player (also about 7 times), Gemina, ACOMAF, My True Love Gave to Me, Since You've Been Gone, Illuminae, These Broken Stars, Just One Year, and A Torch Against the NightWorst: the audiobook for The Mistake can burn in hell (I'd say this for The Deal also, but I listened to that in 2015. But what the hell; they can meet there). Also not good: One Night That Changes Everything, The Rose and the Dagger (I DO NOT like that narrator), and Dream of You

First & last…
  • Reads of 2016: The Year We Hid Away (Jan 1) and (hopefully) The Book Jumper or an audiobook after The Winner's Kiss.
  • Books on your bookcase (1st book on the top left and last book on the bottom right): This doesn't fucking work with my book collection because there aren't enough shelves, and my books exist in precarious piles stacked haphazardly around my apartment.
  • Most disappointing & biggest pleasant surprise: yeesh. Really making me think here. I was disappointed in Rose & the Dagger after Wrath was wonderful. The Goal was also frustrating after such an amazing series. And The Hating Game, which ALL MY FRIENDS I ALWAYS AGREE WITH ON ROMANCE BOOKS, was not great. Good. But not great. I expected more. Red Rising. Just Another Girl. Summer Days & Summer Nights. Miss Mayhem & Lady Renegades. All the Feels. The Distance from A to Z. The My Lady Jane audiobook. Lots of disappointment. DELIGHTFUL SURPRISES: Trouble is a Friend of Mine, Walk the Edge, and The Witch Hunter. I love Katie McGarry, but I've been iffy on several of her recent books, and Razor was supposed to be a psycho. Trouble was not really on my radar, but it was AMAZING. And I didn't hear much about The Witch Hunter, but what I did hear wasn't impressive. BUT THEN I REALLY LIKED IT. YAY for unexpected goodness.

Fandom you joined & one you abandoned: As with everyone else, I am fully invested in Team Rhys now in ACOTAR. I didn't abandon the fandom, per se, but I am not very invested in the Shadowhunter Chronicles anymore. I still haven't read CoHF so I can't possibly pick up Lady Midnight. I knew like 6 years ago that promising so many books would make it difficult for me to keep up. I just hate the wait. And as much as I love Susan Dennard and Truthwitch, that's not at all a fandom I want to be intensely involved with, even though I'll read the books.
Series you picked up & series you quit: I started a bunch of new series this year, but the two I'm most excited about right now are Trouble is a Friend of Mine/Trouble Makes a Comeback and The Witch Hunter. I didn't quit series so much as do a really, really poor job finishing them. One that I'm taking an intentional break from, though, is the Beyond series by Kit Rocha (it's erotica).
Most lenient & harshest ratings: I do judge my romance and my YA on a different scale. If a romance is entertaining and swoony, I'm bound to enjoy it, which means mostly 4s with some 5s. I demand more from my YA: better characterization, writing, inclusivity, plot development, etc. My harshest rating is probably for The Mistake audio, though, because I really loved the book, but the narrator is AWFUL. Most lenient rating... I don't know. Maybe for my reread of the audio for My True Love Gave to Me? I gave it five stars because it's so enjoyable as a reread that things that used to bother me don't anymore.
Most hyped & furthest under the radar that you read: Most hyped: Truthwitch, ACOMAF, Crooked Kingdom, The Hating Game. Obviously. Under the radar (ymmv): Trouble is a Friend of Mine & Trouble Makes a Comeback

Book you read that is red: Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Starts with X, Y, or Z: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perino
Book you hugged when you finished it: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Book you wanted to throw across a room: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (you know why)
Food you craved while/after reading a certain book: I always want, like, Mediterranean when I read Wrath and the Dawn and Rose and the Dagger because that's the closest I know to Middle Eastern food. Couscous and tzatziki sauce and gyros and lamb/chicken shawarma...
Book that became an instant go-to recommendation: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Furthest out of your comfort zone: Natural Law by Joey W. HIll
Read on a recommendation (that you may not have picked up yourself): Not *quite* a recommendation, but I had to read Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick for work.
Forced yourself to finish: Wink Poppy Midnight or The Mistake audio
Series or author’s works you binged: I binged Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years series TWICE this year (once in ebook, once in audio)



Number of posts in 2016: 44 (wooooow that is so very low oops)
Number of reviews posted this year: 13
Least coherent review: Gemina gif review because I was trying to avoid spoilers
Post with the most views: Mary's Clearing House giveaway, but the best non-giveaway post was my Hype Machine post THAT I LOVE
Post you wish you could re-write: none? I go back and fix typos, but I'm pretty damn proud of my blog (even though I don't post as much as I'd like to) so no. I wouldn't rewrite anything.

Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Genre: young adult mystery
Format/Source: paperback, from the publisher
Status: Book 1 in the Trouble series

Image result for add to goodreads button

Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in this story of a wisecracking girl who meets a weird but brilliant boy and their roller-coaster of a semester that’s one part awkward, three parts thrilling, and five parts awesome.

When Philip Digby first shows up on her doorstep, Zoe Webster is not impressed. He's rude and he treats her like a book he's already read and knows the ending to. But before she knows it, Digby--annoying, brilliant and somehow attractive?--has dragged her into a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all related to an investigation into the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that may be connected to the tragic disappearance of his own sister eight years ago.

When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can't say no. Digby gets her, even though she barely gets herself. But is Digby a hero, or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exercise his own obsessive compulsive tendencies? 

A romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a crime novel where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a friendship story where they aren't even sure they like each other--this is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and the most charismatic dynamic duo you've ever met.

Mary's Minute: The Hype Machine

One interesting aspect of the bookish community is the way we the readers put so much into promoting the books (and authors) we adore. It's not enough for us to love a book, buy a copy, and be done. We love a book. We rave about it. We draw fanart, we write reviews and fanfic, we create designs and merchandise, we post inspiration boards and fancasts, playlists and top tens. We cosplay. We preorder. We tell our friends, our families, our coworkers, our postmen, our cashiers, our random strangers in the bookstore. We don't tell them once or twice. We tell them once or twice daily until they pick up the book already. We face books at B&N. We show up at events. We join street teams and push even harder. We tell the world in as many ways as possible.

What I want to talk about for a second is... does all this non-stop promotion ever HURT a book (pauses to hum a few bars of "Non Stop")? Let me tell you a story. In April 2015, I received an advance copy of a really cool book at the TLA annual conference. I had been looking forward to this book. The author had become a favorite because of another series and was an auto-read, auto-buy for me. I did not immediately read the book because it was six months before publication, and there were some other great books with closer release dates. Unfortunately for me, just a month later, everyone at BEA got this book and read it immediately. They RAVED about it. They posted pictures of pages. They created dozens of blog posts and my Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram feeds were plastered with updates, posts, and pictures for about three months. The end result was that I didn't want to read the book anymore BECAUSE everyone was talking about it. I was especially incensed by the spoilery pictures of the pages.

And so I waited. I bided (bode? UGH irregular verbs are the worst) my time. The book released with much pomp, but after about three weeks, the promotion had abated, and it was finally "safe" for me to read without expectation. I read the book in two days and LOVED it. I posted a review, recommended it to friends and family, touted it as one of my favorite books of 2015, met the authors on tour (like four times), posted a gif review of the sequel, and posted a review of the audio. For those who clicked the links, bless you. Yes, it was, in fact, Illuminae. Those of you who know me know yeah, I adore this book and its sequel. I love its authors. I think it's fantastic and want everyone to read it... but too much hype killed my initial desire to read the book.

While I think it's amazing that everyone is always so excited by the books they love, I'm always intensely wary of listening to gushy OMG IT'S THE BEST EVAR type recommendations, particularly from people whose reading tastes I am not wholly certain line up with my own. I tend to be a bit skeptical of recommendations, and I completely ignore the ones my Goodreads friends send me. I have many times fallen into the pit of despair disappointment caused by high expectations caused by too much hype.

In recent days, I have been especially annoyed by the street team of a certain sequel. I want to read this book. The author is a delight, and the book is set an intriguing world about which I would like to know more. Last night, someone checked the audiobook of book 1 out at work, and I told them how much I enjoyed it. However, it is IRRITATING AS FUCK because for the last two weeks straight, my timelines on every conceivable platform have been taken over by this book's overeager champions. At this point, I'm so sick of hearing about this book that my desire to read it has dropped from about an 8 on the I Want It scale to about a 2. AND IT STILL HAS SEVERAL WEEKS TO GO BEFORE RELEASE. I'm trying to hold out hope by the release, the frenzy will have lessened somewhat, but that's probably futile.

If any of said champions read this (because some of you are friends of mine), I really do love you guys. You're great, and I think it's great you love this book, this series, this author, but maybe cut the promotion down a smidge. It doesn't have to be non-stop promo 24/7.

For anyone who does any type of promotion (and LBR, all of us do some type of promotion, whether for a book, an author, a merchandise shop, our blogs, whatever), maybe follow authors Beth Revis's & Paula Stokes's advice (the entire post is about promotion, but question 2 is the most applicable part): post once in the morning, once in the afternoon, once later at night, which will ensure social media users who jump on at different times each day will see one of your posts. Or maybe post once a day and figure someone will see it on Wednesday who missed the Tuesday post. Please stop posting every hour on the hour on every platform you're on. It's excessive.

Here's the thing: sometimes an author with no clue how to social media comes on and tweets a link to their book to me with no previous interaction. I immediately check out their feed. If I see they've tweeted the same exact tweet to myself and several other book bloggers, I report them for spam. What you're doing, it's spam too. I won't report friends for spam (that's seriously reserved for "buy my book [link]" or "knoxdiver, win an iphone 8!"), but I will stop listening. I'll start avoiding that book book and the people talking about it. I'll utilize things like the mute button. I'm contrary like that, but hey, there's literally a nursery rhyme about the contrariness of people named Mary.

Street teams can be fantastic. They're a great resource for authors, particularly when the piece of the publisher's publicity pie is that weird randomly skinny slice while the other pieces are all fatter (you know what I'm talking about, but see below because it was fun to google).

But for me, I'd rather talk to people about the book rather than face down a wall of inside jokes, increasingly ridiculous hashtags, and purchase/preorder links.

I think it's also a matter of focus. I'd rather hear WHY a book is great instead of just seeing "OMG I HAVE THIS BOOK IT'S AMAZING THANKS [insert publisher here] [insert all the heart eye emojis here]" a thousand times before the book comes out. If I hear "wow, the writing is so beautiful!" I'll keep an eye out for the writing. If I hear "Henry is SUUUPER swoony, and I ship it so hard!" I'm definitely going to be looking out for Henry and the ship. Expecting general awesomeness is a good way to become disappointed, but if promotion is focused, I know the book has some specific strengths that will definitely push it up my TBR. This is 100% why I still prefer Twitter to Instagram. Book pictures are pretty, but rarely do I ever have a meaningful conversation about a book on Insta.

I don't want people to think I'm just picking on street teams here. Yes, while the intense presence of The Team That Will Not Be Named broke me pushed me to post this now, I've actually been thinking about this topic for several months, although primarily regarding individual recommendations. *scrolls up, sees how long this post already is* Basically, even when a friend I love encourages me to read a book, sometimes I balk 1. if they recommend it every day (it is established that I'm contrary) or 2. if they love it, and I'm afraid I won't.

To conclude, I'll leave you with this: I recently apologized to a friend because I realized I was being wholly obnoxious with my book pushing (I really did yell at her almost every day for several months in our group chat), and it's something I'm going to work on. I always want to be a person who encourages people to pick up a book, someone others seek out for a recommendation instead of bombarding them with suggestions. It absolutely kills me when I get a comment like, "thanks for this. You saved me from reading this garbage." That's not the kind of reader, blogger, and library staffer I want to be. I also want others to be conscientious of the difference between helpful promotion and obnoxious spam.

Please leave a comment whether you agree or disagree. I would love to hear other readers' and bloggers' opinions regarding promotion, recommendations, and expectations and if they're connected for you the way they are for me. Has the hype machine ever ruined a book for you or have you ever pushed a book lower on your TBR to avoid the hype? 

Mary's Minute: Dream Panel: Teenagers in Space

This week I have the opportunity to do something unique and cool. I was asked to create my own dream panel of authors and/or characters for a fictional conference. I totally love this idea, especially considering I had the ability to use Big Name People or even characters.

I have a few ideas for this so I might do some more panels in the future. However, lately I've been really into science fiction, but only the ones that go where no man has gone before. Therefore I have brought in my favorite epic space authors and a few special guests (because when I reach for the stars, I literally reach for movie stars). Behold, I bring you:


Basically, Teenagers in Space would be a panel all about creating and enriching stories set in space. I would moderate because this is my dream panel, and I'm not passing up on an opportunity to meet Melissa, Chris, Sigourney, and Joss (the others I have had the pleasure of previously both meeting and moderating panels for!). We'd talk about boss ladies (Sigourney would monologue about Ripley, obviously) and sassy boys (Chris and Jay would discuss Star-Lord and Nik). We'd talk technology (what's up, AIDAN?) and badass spaceships, space battles and alien monsters, contagious diseases and loneliness in the big black. Research and gross stuff would also be a hot topic, and Beth would make the audience queasy with stories about boiling spit and other delightful effects of the human body in the vacuum of space (I have heard her talk about this & it's amazingly horrifying). 

If I blew this up into a festival or convention or if my picks weren't available (because sometimes you do need backups for your dreams), potential guests would include:
Mindee Arnett - Avalon series
Karen Bao - Dove Chronicles
Rhoda Belleza - Empress of a Thousand Skies (out in February!)
Pierce Brown - Red Rising trilogy
Alexandra Duncan - Salvage duology
Tessa Elwood - Inherit the Stars series
Claudia Gray - Lost Stars, Defy the Stars
Ava Jae - Beyond the Red trilogy
RC Lewis - Stitching Snow, Spinning Starlight
Marissa Meyer - The Lunar Chronicles 
Michael Miller - Kaitan Chronicles (book 1 Shadow Run released next year!)
Kass Morgan - The 100 trilogy
Phoebe North - Starglass duology
Adam Rex - The True Meaning of Smek Day (book that Home was based on)
Megan Shepherd - The Cage trilogy
AdriAnne Strickland - Kaitan Chronicles
the cast of Firefly
the cast of The 100
the cast of Star-Crossed (still mad this got cancelled)
the writers of Halo

Do you have any favorite space-based books? Who would be on your dream panel & what would it be about? Let me know in the comments!

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