I Told You So….

I’m generally not one to say, I told you so.

But, I told you so.

I knew when Amazon bought Goodreads they would ruin it.

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PLUS

goodreads

EQUALS

trainwreck

I’ve always loved goodreads because it was a place to talk books, meet readers, access authors I admire, discover books I loved, and keep track of what I’ve read and want to read.

Slowly, Amazon has been sinking their money-lovin’ fingers deeper and deeper. Pop-up ads funded by the big publishers pushing the same authors and their same books have steadily increased. Buy links to purchase from Amazon are in every comment and recommendation, attached to every picture, and slathered up and down the side bars. And paid goodreads campaigns arrive in my email box for one NYT best-selling book after another.

Fine. It’s fine.

I know that the people with the money control everything, story of my life.

As a reader, I can generally look the other way, but as an author, I’ve had entirely enough.

I tried to believe that, although the game is truly rigged for the writers with the big publishers and the big bucks, I could still utilize goodreads to promote my books and connect with readers.

One feature of goodreads I especially love is the giveaways.

I’ve noted in a previous post, I have NEVER, EVER, NOT-ONCE won a giveaway, despite the hundreds I have entered. As I watch a good friend win copy after copy, I’ve scratched my head, but accepted that playing the lottery will never be a money-making proposition for me and when something says ‘odds are one in a hundred that this will happen,’ it’s more like ‘odds are one in a wando-mega-gazilllion to one that this will happen’ for me.

[And no, this is not another post speculating on how goodreads giveaways could possibly be rigged.]

No, this is a post reacting to the recent email I received from goodreads about their all-new, even better giveaway program for authors.

It may be new, but it is decidedly not better.

For example, one new feature works like this: Instead of giving readers the choice of entering your giveaway AND adding your book to their TO READ list, it automatically adds your book to an entrant’s TO READ list, whenever he or she enters your giveaway. This, they proclaim, will help generate buzz alerting the entrant’s friends and followers that they have added your book to their shelves.

Great, right?

No. I don’t want someone to be forced to add my book to their shelf. Maybe I’m overly sensitive because I’m one of those people who opposes being forced to do anything. (Same reason I still don’t like veal or eggplant, and I never follow-thru on chain emails or FB message forwards.)

Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I am thrilled when someone adds my book to their TO READ shelf, and yet I hate the idea of goodreads doing it for them. And I hate the idea of someone adding my book to their TO READ shelf only so they can be entered to win a copy.

Is it crazy to want readers to add my books to their shelves because they want to read my books?

Okay, enough whining. That’s not the big reason I’m angry about the new program.

Here’s the real reason—goodreads is now charging authors to giveaway their books. So not only am I (or my publisher) fronting the cost of the book and the mailing, but now I (or my publisher) will have to pay goodreads for the privilege of giving away my books!

And it’s not cheap. There are, of course, different packages, one more expensive than the other (they start at $159 a year).

So here’s one more way that authors and publishers are losing money to Amazon. And here’s one more way for books with big publishers and big budgets to get an advantage.

Enough!

I’m done.

I have no idea if either of my publishers will play the game and buy a giveaway package, but I’ve listed my last author-sponsored giveaway on goodreads before the policy changes with the new year.

After that, I’m gonna do this crazy thing and give away my books without the help of goodreads.

So, here we go.

How’d you like to win a signed copy of one of my books?

All you have to do is make a comment on this post right here on the blog or on Facebook, and you’re entered to win a signed copy of any of my books (you choose). I’ll even toss in a couple swag items with the book!

And starting twelve days before Christmas (do the math), I’ll be giving away one book EVERY DAY to a person randomly selected from my newsletter list (if you aren’t on it, sign up here) for the twelve days of Christmas!

Yes, I am more than aware that goodreads will not even register my little dissent and protest.

Which is fine.

I’d consider it an act of solidarity if you now went to your own goodreads dashboard and added my books to your TO READ list (but only if you want to read them.).

Take that, Amazon!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, please visit CaraWrites.com, or connect with me on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. You can win great stuff, get book recommendations & a monthly most awesome recipe, be bombarded with puppy pictures, and keep up with all my adventures, by signing up for my newsletter.

Best,

Cara

p.s. I LOVE to hear from readers (and writers), feel free to email me CaraSueAchterberg@gmail.com

 

 

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Falling in Love Has Nothing to Do With It

“You have to make a conscious decision to love someone.”

My mother told me this at some point in my young adult years. At the time I remember thinking that sounded like something an old person would say. It really poked all the fun out of ‘falling in love,’ something I experienced again and again and rarely acted on until I was nearly thirty.

I’ve reflected on those words many times in the years since she said it. In fact, my novel, Practicing Normal, explores that very idea. It holds up the concept of falling in love, against the reality of choosing to continue to love even when it isn’t easy. I’ve come to believe my mom is right. Love does require a conscious decision.

No more so than in marriage. I’ve been married now for twenty-two years. I’m here to tell you it’s not all fun and games. There are plenty of times when it requires serious work. And when you are bogged down in parenting or building a career you simply cannot coast on that euphoria of new love any longer. You have to make an effort. Even if you feel you’re carrying the larger load. Even when the bills and the laundry pile up, you still have to consciously decide to love this person who drives you batty at times.

The day we got married, I had a stomach flu that leveled me so badly my friends and sister-in-law had to dress me, do my nails, hair, and makeup. The limo didn’t show up and we all crammed in a friend’s mini-van to get to the church. The service started nearly twenty minutes late. Anything that could fall out of the sky, did fall out of the sky that November day – rain, sleet, snow, hail. My bridesmaids had barf bags wrapped around their bouquets, just in case.

And yet, my wedding was perfect. All the obstacles, whittled the event down to one thing for me. All I focused on, all I cared about, was being able to stand up and say my vows. Instead of worrying about my appearance and the million details I’d obsessed over for months, our wedding was about what it should have been about – making a conscious decision, even a declaration, to love each other. Forever.

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In Practicing Normal, Cassie, a hospice nurse expounds on my mother’s words:

“Love isn’t romance. It’s a grind. It’s being there every day, even when you don’t want to be. I see it all the time. I watch these people who sit with their dying spouse or friend or parent. They clean up their shit, spoon feed them their dinner, bathe them, read to them, take care of them—because they love them. It’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not something you’d ever find in a romance novel. Love isn’t some grand thing that you luck into; there’s not magic chemistry involved. It’s a decision. A conscious decision. You have to decide you’re going to love someone and then you have to make that decision every day, every hour, again and again. Even when it sucks.”

I’m pretty sure my husband is forced to make the conscious decision to keep loving me much more often than I debate my own love for him. I know I’m not easy, and maybe that’s one of the things that makes me grateful for him. He tolerates my moods and whims and unilateral decisions about how many animals to bring home.

Just like sunscreen and thank you notes, mom was right. Loving someone is a conscious decision. One we all make every day, every hour, and if we’re lucky, for a lifetime.

Best,

Cara

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, please visit CaraWrites.com, or connect with me on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. You can win great stuff, get book recommendations & a monthly most awesome recipe, be bombarded with puppy pictures, and keep up with all my adventures, by signing up for my newsletter.

 

 

 

Hometown prophets

They say a prophet is never welcome in his hometown.

Okay, I’m not Jesus.

But the book festival I attended last month was in my hometown. That’s the main reason I went.

That, and the fact that I’m a fan of the woman who organized the York Book Expo. For all the times that Demi has lifted up me and my writing, I couldn’t not go the Book Expo.

As an author, promotion is unavoidable. But there is a cost not only to your pocketbook, but to your time and family and happiness. I’m still figuring out which events are a good investment, which are necessary evils, and which waste my resources and time. I do think it’s important to evaluate your promotional efforts and learn from them. Hence, these posts I’m foisting upon you, hoping you’re learning from my experiences.

This was the third time I’ve attended The York Book Expo, which is well-organized and professionally run. The past two years it has felt very worth my while. It’s been fun to talk to other writers, put faces to names from Facebook, and I’ve even sold enough books to ‘make my table’ even if I didn’t make any real profit.

This year was different, though. Continue reading “Hometown prophets”

Book Festivalling Episode One

Book festivals are not everyone’s thing. I get that.

Okay, maybe I don’t. What’s not to like? Books? Authors? Festivalling?

This month, I traveled to three different festivals. I learned something at each one. I’d planned to write about all of them in one post, but upon reflection, I realized that each experience was so different, I need to give them equal time. So, this is the first of three posts on my book festival tour.

The first festival I attended was in Williamsburg, Virginia. I traveled there with a dear friend, beta reader, book & wine lover named Gina. I had no expectations for this festival, I told Gina. In doing my research, I’d talked to three authors who attended in years past. One was enthusiastic about the experience, saying it was well organized and the crowd was lovely. She sold many books.

The second author I contacted said it was awful. She was stuck in a side room and no one could find her table. The people who did were just looking for free stuff. Hmmm. Continue reading “Book Festivalling Episode One”

What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?

I started teaching a new course of Creative Writing this week. I forgot how much I love it. My class last spring didn’t fill and was canceled. At the time, I was busy preparing for a book launch, so I was somewhat relieved.

Driving home after class this week, I was energized. It’s so exciting to work with writers who are just beginning their journey. The possibilities are fresh and exciting.

The knowing nods when we talk about the urgent need to write, reassure me. I’m not the only crazy person in my town who feels this compelling urge to bear witness to all the little oddities in my life and heart.

pexels-photo-115782We talked about what we write and why. So many echoed the same sentiment—a voice running through their heads aching to get out on paper. I recognize that insistency. It’s their creative spirit. Everyone has one. That spirit can find its way out in a plethora of ways, but when its left trapped inside, unrecognized and unfed, it can lead to a confused despondency, a sadness borne of a day-after-day sameness. Continue reading “What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?”

Enough of That

Cut how many words?

The last few weeks have been a blur of editing. For me, editing is the worst part of being a writer. Also, it’s how you spend half of your time as a writer (the other parts are 10% writing and 40% promoting). Sigh.

I sat down with my current WIP and began slashing. My agent suggested I cut nearly ten thousand words. I was sincere in my effort and after letting go of my initial instinct to fight for every word, I discovered the story was cleaner and clearer once I unloaded 9,000 words.

After weighing every word and questioning every sentence, I was still coming up short. I figured if I could just get rid of another five hundred, I’d be golden. I mean, nearly 10,000 is pretty much 10,000, right?

I couldn’t bring myself to comb through the manuscript again, so I employed my favorite writing tool – the find feature. Now, which words could I cut that wouldn’t affect the story? Continue reading “Enough of That”

Playing the Peacemaker

“There might be another way to say that,” I suggest to my child who has just bluntly announced an opinion about another child in a semi-public setting.

“It’s no big deal. It’s only one evening,” I tell my spouse when our son want to invite ten loud young adults over to hang out before they return to school when we had planned to watch a movie.

“I think we’ll have to agree to disagree,” I say to a relative with very different political leanings.

More and more, Continue reading “Playing the Peacemaker”