Review: Undecided by Julianna Keyes

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I read this as my January book for my 2017 Reading Challenge/Book Club. The theme was ‘Read an Indie Author’, so I picked this book that got rave reviews and had been sitting on my TBR pile for a while.

Brief Plot:

A New Adult Romance about a young woman trying to atone for her wild first year in college. She moves in with the college stud – whom she happened to hook up with the previous year – but ends up falling for his best friend.

My Thoughts:

This is usually the kind of book I avoid. Firstly, I tend to hate first person POV. And secondly, angsty New Adult Romances generally have dickhole “heroes” and “broken” women that the guy can get protective over. But I’d heard that this book wasn’t like that – and they were right. Despite me being unsure at first, Crosbie turns out to be adorable. Nora is flawed, but determined.

Julianna Keyes is a skilled writer. I really felt all the pain and awkwardness of Nora’s situation and everything she goes through. I did think that she made too big a deal out of some things, and determinedly stuck to her course for a bit too long. But it was in character and consistent with what I knew of her. If I had one complaint about the book – which is so minor as to be insignificant – is that maybe I didn’t feel the joy as strongly as I felt all the pain.

This book overcame all my reservations and made me feel a whole bunch of things – so it gets 5 stars.

Did I learn anything by reading this:

I certainly learned what a difference a cover could make. I wasn’t interested in this book at all based on the first cover. And though I don’t love the second cover, it’s not nearly as off-putting. Mostly because it doesn’t imply a love triangle.

Would I read in this genre again:

In New Adult? Hmmm, probably only if the book is highly recommended by someone that really knows my reading tastes.

An Indie Author? Of course!

Final Thoughts:

Read it if you like beta heroes, college-aged characters, and feeling all the feels.

Which Indie Authors did you read this month?

Networking for Indie Authors

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If there was ever such a halcyon time when an Indie Author could just hit publish on a book and then watch the sales come in, that time is long over.

Now, discoverability is a real issue, and many authors are feeling alone and disheartened, and struggling to find sales. I’m certainly not an expert on getting sales, (or on not feeling alone, for that matter!) but I have a steady amount of books sold each day. I can attribute my modest success to one thing: networking.

There are a number of different forms of networking.

  • In person
  • Online (Readers)
  • Online (Other writers)
  • Online (Bloggers and reviewers)

The first time I saw a bump in my sales (after the initial release) was when I attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference last year. There, I met a lot of lovely, like-minded people that loved the same genre I do, both as readers and writers. I didn’t spend any of my time pimping my books to people there (unless they asked!), but I did build connections, ones that I’ve continued since. And many of those people have been supportive of my writing in subsequent months.

So, in person networking is not about selling your books, necessarily, it’s about selling yourself as a person and making friends.

I also have seen an uptick in my sale since I joined a number of online groups for writers. Not critique groups, but more communities, many of which are on Goodreads and Facebook. Again, I didn’t use these groups to spam people with my books, but I try to be a helpful, active member. I answer people’s questions as best I can, I offer opinions when they’re asked for, and I cheer people on when they need it. And they do the same for me! I don’t go in with the intention of any mercenary gain, but I think in many ways these groups have contributed to me finding a readership.

This, for me, was about having a support network of other people that understand the writing process. Some of them bought my book! But that isn’t the point of the connection. Rather, they make me feel less alone in the writing and publishing world, and these groups are a place to pool our knowledge for the betterment of all of us. However, like with the in-person networking, it helps to make friends and be supportive of other people, because they’ll probably be supportive back.

Bloggers and reviewers are the group I’ve had the least success networking with. I’ve tried! But I’m probably doing something wrong. However, I’ll keep persisting because there is a wealth of evidence out there that bloggers and reviewers will be your biggest supporters down the line. They are the ones that get readers to hear about your book, and get them hyped for releases. It will definitely be a challenge worth pursuing to build those relationships!

And, now, to readers. There are a number of ways to meet and communicate with readers. In person you have book launches, conferences, conventions, and things like that. Online, you have social media, groups, forums, etc. If you can build a relationship with readers, then I’ll wager that will be your most financially successful form of networking. Part of this comes through your author branding (something I’m still working on) – readers want to know who you are. Other times it’s just interacting with them in appropriate places.

 

Networking is essential for building not just a readership, but a community around you. This isn’t (just) for financial reasons. Indie authors don’t have to take this journey alone – and they shouldn’t. Find opportunities to build relationships, and be receptive to those that come your way. It’ll make a massive difference!

2017 Reading Challenge

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One of my goals this year is to read more – and read more outside of my usual type of books.

I’ve always had a secret desire to join a book club, but since I hate depressing books, which make up a lot of literary fiction (the genre most chosen for book clubs), I have a suspicion that I would be miserable in a conventional book club setting.

However, I do acknowledge that I am occasionally too narrow in my reading, and would love to challenge myself to read a wider variety of books.

So, I thought I would challenge myself (and others, if you want to join!) to a more broad and thematic kind of book club. Instead of all reading the same book, I thought it would be cool if we all read to particular themes each month, and then returned to discuss what we’d read.

This way, we can choose books we are comfortable with, while still challenging ourselves to read outside of our usual patterns.

Here is what I’m thinking so far:

January: Indie Author

February: Fiction genre you haven’t read before

March: #OwnVoices book

April: Nonfiction book

May: Book with a protagonist of a different race to you

June: Book that’s been languishing on your TBR pile for a long time

July: Book set in an unusual place

August: Book that scares or intimidates you

September: Anthology or short story

October: Book that was made into a movie

November: Translated book

December: Book in an unusual format

If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know!

I intend to write a review of each book I read for the challenge, to see if it changed my mind about anything. I’ll ask myself questions such as ‘What did I learn?’ (either about writing, myself, or the world at large) and ‘Would I read a book with this theme again?’ It should be a nice record of a year’s reading.

What do you say? Will you join me?