Thursday, April 23, 2015


Just wanted to let you know that a couple of my lovely critique partners, Myrna Foster and Tara Dairman, are giving away ARCs of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING on their blogs. Today is the last day to enter Myrna's giveaway, and Tara's giveaway is only open until next Tuesday, so as Ella Mae's mama would say, don't dillydally!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lessons Learned from My First Goodreads Giveaway

I sponsored my first Goodreads giveaway last week, and it exceeded my wildest expectations (and trust me, my expectations can get pretty wild). The giveaway drew 772 entries, and at the same time, 379 people* added the book to their shelves. Goodreads doesn't track entries by day (or at least I couldn't find where they track entries by day), but I was able to follow the adds over the course of the giveaway:

And for those of you who like pictures, here's the same information in a handy-dandy graph:

Considering that only 179 people had added the book in the seven-plus months leading up to last week, these numbers are kind of amazing. I also had a few observations that I thought I'd share:

As you've probably heard, beginnings and endings are super important. As you can see from my table, I got the most adds by far on the first and last days of the giveaway. It really does make a difference to be at or very close to the top of the "Ending Soon" and "Recently Listed" lists.

So how do you maximize your exposure? I noticed that lots of people were still using arbitrary beginning and ending dates: the starts or ends of months, of weeks, etc. Heck, I fell prey to this tendency and started and ended my giveaway at the end of a week. Next time, I'll aim to start and end in the middle. Or maybe I'll start my giveaway on the last day of the month. The possibilities are endless!

The length of your giveaway will determine exactly where it falls on those lists. I can't say this with certainty, but I'm pretty sure that the top slots on the "Ending Soon" list go to the longest-running giveaways while the top slots on the "Recently Listed" list go to the shortest-running giveaways. In other words, A LONG-RUNNING GIVEAWAY IS GOING TO GET MORE EXPOSURE AT THE END OF ITS CYCLE, AND A SHORT-RUNNING GIVEAWAY IS GOING TO GET MORE EXPOSURE UPFRONT.

Case in point: on the first day of my giveaway, it appeared about halfway down the first "Recently Listed" page, but on the last day, it was only as high as the third. Plenty of users still found it--as you can see above, it was my best day for adds--but it's something to be aware of.

If this number-crunching has seriously stressed you out, throw it all out the window--but still sponsor a Goodreads giveaway. I don't know how influential Goodreads actually is, but having 500 people wake up on the day my book comes out to an e-mail from Goodreads reminding them about it can't hurt.

I should also add that I found Catherine Ryan Howard's excellent post on Goodreads giveaways extremely helpful, but what about you? Have you sponsored a Goodreads giveaway, and if so, what have YOU learned?

*I pulled these numbers from my book stats on Goodreads, but they don't quite add up. My total adds peaked at 520 on the last day of the giveaway, but 179 plus 379 doesn't equal 520. Also, several people have un-added my book in the last several days, but that's to be expected.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Longtime critique partner Jeni and I have been trading book recommendations lately, and THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE was her latest suggestion. The cover perfectly captures the tone of the book, so feel free to stare at it for a while before you read on.

When the odious headmistress of St. Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies and her oily brother keel over dead after Sunday dinner, the young ladies of the aforementioned school know that, if they sound the alarm, they'll be investigated for murder (or, worse, sent home). So they do the only thing a group of somewhat well-bred young ladies might do: they bury the victims in the vegetable garden and try to convince the townsfolk that their headmistress and her brother are still very much alive. If they're to succeed, they'll have to fool the doctor, their domestic, and their headmistress's elderly beau--and pray that her heir, the fabled Julius Godding, doesn't show up.

Is it irreverent? Uh-huh. Is it implausible? Yes. Did it make me smile and laugh out loud more than once? You bet it did. Ms. Berry was clearly less interested in developing the characters in her ensemble cast than in plunging them into the most absurd situations imaginable and watching them fib, grease, and connive their way out. And I enjoyed every second.

THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE totally reminded me of Arsenic and Old Lace, so if you like your comedy dark and your farces Victorian, definitely check this one out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Dream Eclipsed

A week or two ago, an amazing thing happened: I held a finished book in my hands, and it had my name on it. The first copies of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING are hot off the press, and the always gracious Shauna was kind enough to send one to me.

It was definitely a cool moment (or even a stupendous one), but in the ensuing days and weeks, that high has tapered off, and I've gone back to feeling mostly ambivalent about the upcoming release. I'm about to fulfill a lifelong dream--and after holding that book in my hands, I've kind of already fulfilled it--and the most that I can drum up is ho-hum ambivalence?

What in the heck is wrong with me?

I've thought long and hard about why I'm so indifferent, and the realization I've come to is that I've been letting the noise, both good and bad, get under my skin. Reviews have been coming in for the last couple of months, and if they haven't been awful, they've just been all right. (And by "all right," I mean they haven't been starred. Are starred reviews the only ones worth mentioning? I have no idea.) But before I got those reviews, I let other people's dreams for this book go to my head. I started thinking of them less as dreams and more as certainties. Of course my book was great. Of course everyone was going to love it.

I don't know when I stopped caring about the book itself and only about what other people thought of it, but somewhere along the way, it happened. You can survive when other people think it's awesome, but you won't really be content. And when someone bursts your bubble, you'll crash back down to earth. To insulate yourself from future heartbreak, you'll convince yourself that you don't care, and then you really won't.

I don't know how to reverse this process, but I want to figure it out. Once upon a time, I was confident enough that both the praise and the scorn rolled right off my back. I want to find that girl again. I know she's in here somewhere.

For those of you who are reading this post in your inboxes or feed readers, you should know that I'm giving away two signed ARCs of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING on Goodreads. Also, I just added an "Educators" page to the blog, so if you want to learn more about my school and library visits, definitely check it out!