What gets a writer happy dancing?


Being a writer isn’t easy. Sometimes I feel as if I’m boldly seeking out new ways to experience humiliation.

That’s why we really need our good excuses for a happy dance.

Julia Spencer-Fleming tweeting about my book!
So: Woo hoo! And I’m going to say that counts as a blurb, right?

But there are, of course, other occasions that make authors want to dance:

  • The first good review by someone you don’t know in the slightest.
  • Any meaty review that suggests someone “got” exactly what you were going after.
  • The first positive review that arrives after a nasty one that sat up there at the top of the “most recent” reviews.
  • When someone highlights a section of your work that you particularly love, too.
  • Watching on Kindle Unlimited or Goodreads as someone swallows your book whole.
  • The first time you sell more than a hundred copies in a single day.
  • A single sale anywhere when they’re not coming steadily anymore.
  • When a librarian says not only do they want to have you talk, they want to buy ten copies of your paperback.
  • When a librarian posts a great review of your book on her library’s site.
  • When colleagues or friends make references to you as a “famous author” and aren’t being sarcastic. (Wrong, yes, but at least not sarcastic.)
  • When you finally find a good way to write yourself out of a plot corner in your current draft.
  • When you find out your book got clicked on or downloaded far above a promoter’s usual range.
  • When you discover a new way to promote that looks as if it might actually allow you to make some money.
  • When a blog post or tweet goes viral.
  • When you get whatever yes you’ve been driving toward … publication somewhere, a full, an agent, a contract, a second contract … even if you know it’s just one milestone on a long, long road.

How about you? Have you had any good reasons to happy dance recently?

The Awful Mess is an ABNA quarter-finalist…

… which means … what?

So far, not much. I peek in at the discussions every once in a while to see if there’s something I’m missing about this process, but apparently nothing much has happened yet.

I’m trying to mostly ignore it. I didn’t enter this contest because I expected to win. “General Fiction” is such a broad category, it could go in any direction. And I am quite sure that my women’s fiction is likely to be regarded as “light” if it goes up against a compelling, manly sort of novel. It’s not terribly literary, it has Christian themes but can’t sell to the traditional Christian audience, and at least a few people would call it a romance. This is not the stuff of contest winning.

I DID want to win the free Publisher’s Weekly review, however, and that I have done.

Of course, I’ve since learned that “Publisher’s Weekly review” is a bit of an overstatement. Apparently these PW reviews are by freelancers who are not the usual PW writers, and they are being paid about $40 a pop to work their way through their assigned titles. At that rate of pay, it’s perhaps not surprising that they sometimes get a little snide. They’re earning even less per hour than I do as an adjunct.

And, alas, I think this also means that it’s unlikely the review will ever actually show up in Publisher’s Weekly.

There might also have been some business risk in doing this. Here’s someone who says that her product description for her self-published title got hijacked by Amazon’s free sample download, ruining her sales while the confusion existed.

I’m not going to freak out if that happens to me, though I think it means I’ll have to postpone some planned promotions (thankfully not scheduled yet). I just enjoyed a nice little burst of sales with the last Kindle Countdown Deal, and I’m currently in that steady drift back down to ignominy that I’ve learned to expect. But I’m not complaining. I tallied up my numbers recently and I’ve sold over 1,200 copies (and have given away over 50,000) since the book came out in June. That’s really not too shabby a reach for an indie debut.

So, if my current Amazon product page gets hijacked for the purposes of the contest for a while, it’s just not that big a deal.

Of course, the contest rules appeared to discourage sex scenes, so my actual book and the contest entry vary in that regard. If that becomes problematic, it’s possible that I’ve found an exciting new way to mess things up.

The next round of five titles for each genre will be chosen in June. I’ll let you know if by some wild stroke of luck I make it into that round. There are also rumors that one needs to have a social media push for support at this stage, but I don’t quite understand why yet. If I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know.

If you want to see the list of quarter-finalists for each genre, it’s here, alphabetized by author’s first name.