And the Bestselling Book on Amazon This Year is…

First, you have to guess. Of course. So go ahead.

*waits*

Before I saw the top 20 list I’d have said *gulp* Go Set a Watchman. I have been very open about being against just about everything this book stands for. But in the back of my mind I’m still thinking of those million books sold the first week. Not too many books doing that. So even with all my reservations about ever reading the book, I’d still have guessed that.

But it was only #3. Here’s the top 20:

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
2. Grey by E.L. James
3. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
5. Memory Man by David Baldacci
6. Make Me by Lee Child
7. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
8. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
9. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
10. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
11. 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
12. Old School by Jeff Kinney
13. Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford
14. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
15. Adult Coloring Book: Street Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring
16. The Liar by Nora Roberts
17. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
18. The Crossing by Michael Connelly
19. The Stranger by Harlan Coben
20. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

When I read through the list I see no surprises. This may be because I’ve been working in a bookstore for four months, but even I hadn’t I’d still not be surprised by any of these. There are some books that we cannot keep in stock at the store. We’ll get a copy or two of something and they’ll be gone in a day or two. Sometimes this happens with older books, but most often I’ve seen it with newer releases. Which is understandable.

Did the bestselling book of the year on Amazon surprise you at all? Or any others from the top 20?

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Working Outside of Writing, Does it Help?

Kind of a weird title. I’ll explain.

Most writers start off doing something else. Maybe they work for a major tech company. Maybe they work as an accountant. Or they’re in marketing. They can be just about anyone, right? My question today asks if that work experience that usually happens before the beginning of a writing career helps.

Some would say of course it does. Others would say it just takes away from time that could have been spent writing, or at least working on perfecting the craft. I obviously don’t have any real insight here, because I’ve never gone from a non-writing career to a writing one. But I do know about a few of my favorite authors. Marcus Sakey worked in marketing. Robert B. Parker worked as an English professor. I think. Michael Connelly worked as a journalist. Lee Child worked in TV. The list goes on and on. And the professions would vary widely from one author to the next.

But knowing this still doesn’t answer the question if prior work helps with one’s writing career. I think there’s no doubt that it helped Michael Connelly. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times. But Sakey was in an office for six years. I’m sure he had a lot of time to think, but I don’t know if he actually learned anything he didn’t already know.

Just about any writer on here is more polished and accomplished than I am. Maybe you have an actual response to a question I can only think about. Does the work you currently do or did in the past help with your writing?


On this day in 2014 I published If you Could Jump Into any Story.

 

Authors can Rally Around Great Books and Make Things Happen

About a month ago I read about something strange. A number of prominent authors were bringing attention to a single book. And it wasn’t written by any of them. Obviously I’m not under the impression that all authors are against one another, but this just seemed different. They were promoting a book entirely because they believed it to be one of those rare, great books that doesn’t come along too often. And things are happening because of it.

First, the book they were talking about was The Cartel by Don Winslow. The authors talking about it were Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and James Ellroy. I haven’t read all four, but I know them. Because I read crime fiction and those are names you have to know. But I’d never heard of Don Winslow before this book. The book became a New York Times bestseller and now has a movie deal in place.

I’m not going to say that it’s all because of what those four authors said about it, but when you’ve got a group that’s sold upwards of 100 million books talking about your book, there’s no greater promotion to be done.

The point is to say that everyone talks about how cutthroat the industry is and how impossible it is to break into publishing, but this group of crime writers has shown that it doesn’t have to be like that. That rallying around a book and its author is not such a bad thing after all.

What do you think of these bestselling authors bringing attention to Don Winslow and his book? I love it.

Attending Book Expo America for the First Time!

Book Expo America (BEA) is this week. And I’m going. I guess I have to go back and look at my Bookish Bucket List to see if attending is on the list, but it definitely should be. This is one of those events that one must attend at some point. Well, I mean any person with an interest in books.

The best part is that I’m “having breakfast” with both James Patterson AND Lee Child on different days! I don’t care what anyone says about Patterson, he’s one of my favorite authors and I get to meet him. And it doesn’t get any better than Lee Child when it comes to crime fiction. I was actually a bit disappointed that more of my favorite authors weren’t attending, but oh well.

It’s great that I’m attending, but I think an event like this would be a great place for bloggers to meet. I don’t know any bloggers who are also attending, but imagine if a group of 10-20 or even more bloggers could get together for the first time after interacting online for months or years. That would be cool. And if anyone happens to be crazy, then there would be plenty of opportunity to escape. But I don’t think any of y’all are crazy. Ha!


 

On this day in 2014 I published Hachette v. Amazon: You’re not going to like my thoughts.

PS: I’m not actually attending BEA, but I wish I was. Have you ever attended? Tell me about it!

Do you shy Away From Reading Long Series?

I actually just read a blog post about this topic yesterday that gave me the idea to write this. I’d link to the post if I remembered the name. Oh well.

Let me just tell you what this other blogger said. She categorized a “long” series as more than five books. And basically said that anything more than that is just too long and fails to keep her attention. I disagree. Let’s not forget Harry Potter was seven. Just saying.

I mean, five books being categorized as a “long” series is a joke. That is a short series. A very short one. I mean, five books is probably only long to YA readers who read trilogy after trilogy. Followed by Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not trying to generalize here, but really who thinks five books is a long series? Who? Another question. How many books are in your favorite series? Mine happens to have three, but when I start looking at more of the series I read I see a whole lot more books than that. Let me see. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is into the 40s. And oh by the way, this is only considered one of the great detective series of the past half century. Jack Reacher is about to reach 20. Alex Cross is into the 20s. Harry Bosch is nearing 20 books. Alex McKnight is in the double digits. Jesse Stone is at 14. Elvis Cole is at 16.

See what I’m saying? These are not just random series I found on the internet. I read all of them and there are several more that I could name. But I think I’ve made my point. I know I don’t speak for every reader out there, but it does beg the question that if readers were turned off by long series, then why are so many authors writing them? Michael Connelly just released a new Bosch novel this week and I’m near certain that it’ll be a #1 NYT bestseller whenever the list updates. As is also the case with most of James Patterson’s books. And Lee Child’s. And Sue Grafton’s. And I know there are YA series that go on and on, as well.

The moral of this post is that I don’t buy into the notion that readers are turned off by long series. Not at all. There are way too many that sell quite well for that to be the case. But I’ll ask anyway, do you shy away from reading lengthy series?

The Lack of Diversity in my Reading

Photo Credit: Valparaiso, IN

Before I continue with this post, I’d like to let you know that I’ll be talking about the lack of racial diversity in my reading. But I know that some people see anything Race related and automatically turn away, which is why I left it out of the title. The topic of racial diversity in publishing will NOT be discussed. This time. We’re strictly talking about my reading. Let’s begin.

One more point that I need to make before moving on is that in no way am I saying that these books, authors, or series are any less worthy of reading. We’re talking about me.

I’ve talked quite a bit about my reading habits on here. I mean, I have three different pages that are dedicated to books I’ve already read or want to in the future. And obviously reading is a big part of any discussion about books, so it makes sense to devote a good amount of space on here to my reading. But I realized something earlier today that I honestly hadn’t noticed before. It was something of a shock, actually. A huge percentage of the books I read not only have White protagonists, but they’re written by White authors. I can assure you that this was not done on purpose. That would be me saying that protagonists or authors of another Race are less worthy of reading. Absolutely not. I’m Mexican! Yes, I realize that in itself does not mean much, but I’m a Mexican author too. I want EVERYONE to read my books. And quite honestly, I believe my audience to be middle-aged, educated, White women. This is based off of the author events I’ve attended for writers in my genre. I saw the same person in the audience over and over again. I can tell you for certain that I was the youngest at every event I attended. By decades.

Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Let me tell you about some of the series and authors I read.

Authors

James Patterson – White

Suzanne Collins – White

Lee Child – White

Steve Hamilton – White

Robert B. Parker – White

Robert Crais – White

You get the point. There are more but it is not MOSTLY the same, it is EXACTLY the same. There is one author out of all of my books who is not White. Michele Martinez. I do have all of her books, but she only has four. Now let’s look at the protagonists I read.

Series

Spenser – White

Katniss Everdeen – White

Harry Bosch – White

Elvis Cole – White

Kinsey Millhone – White

Alex McKnight – White

Merci Rayborn – White

There are a whopping two series I read that revolve around non-White protagonists. Alex Cross, who is African-American. And Melanie Vargas. This is disappointing to me. Quite so.

I can guarantee that the Race of the main character is never once mentioned in any of these series, except for Alex Cross and Melanie Vargas. It’s not mentioned because it’s so obvious to the reader that it never needs to be mentioned.

I love all of the authors I’ve listed, all of them. Their books and writing and careers all speak for themselves. But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I consider myself an avid reader and yet, it would appear that I’m an avid reader of the exact same thing over and over again. I’m sure plenty of readers are the same way, but I don’t want that to be the case with me. I want to be a well-rounded reader because there are plenty of great writers out there who are worthy of reading but may not be well known. It’s time for me to make an effort to read more books that follow a Black protagonist or Mexican or whomever, along with the series I already enjoy.

And the absolute worst part of all this, and I do mean the worst, is that I wrote a protagonist who is me in every aspect…except Race. And I’ll even tell you why. Because I thought him being White would attract more readers than him being Mexican. I sincerely love Andrew and the character I’ve created, but I HATE that I did that. Hate it. I don’t know if this is me conforming to the publishing industry or what, but I need to figure out whether I want to write the stories I want to write or whether I’m writing what I think might get me published one day. They may or may not be the same thing. Which is unfortunate.

I know my posts are typically witty, funny, and informative, but this was a post I needed to write for me.

Thanks for reading.

I ask that you glance over at your bookshelf and see if you find the same problem I did.

To Pen Name or not to Pen Name; That is…a Dumb Question

Photo Credit: Kat Michels

This is another of those topics that I find myself reading way too many blog posts about. There are SO many questions that most writers will ask themselves at some point. I think I’ve written about several of these questions on here. Let me see. The question of whether to self publish or attempt to publish through an agent and traditional publisher. Coming up with the perfect title for the book you’ve just finished. Naming characters in your work. Whether or not to intentionally make your protagonist autobiographical. There are many more, but my point is that these are all valid issues that need to be figured out by the author.

The question of whether or not to use a pen name is not. It’s ridiculous. Seriously, who do you think you are? You haven’t done anything yet. So maybe you’ve written a book. Maybe you’ll clean it up in preparation to start sending out queries, but so what. Do you have any idea what the odds of that book ever making its way onto a store bookshelf? Yeah, I bet you didn’t. I’m getting off topic now.

I can only name a very small number of authors who I am aware use pen names. Lee Child. JK Rowling. Nora Roberts. Lee Child came up with his pen name because it would put him between crime writers Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie on bookshelves. Good idea. JK Rowling wrote a book as Robert Galbraith as something of an experiment to see if the book would make it on its own merits and not just her name. Another good idea. And Nora Roberts has written under several names because of the simple fact that she writes too many books to release under one name. I may be mistaken, but I think she’s written more than 200 books. Geez. I also know T. Jefferson Parker added the T in front of his name just because. It doesn’t stand for anything. And yes, I realize that a number of authors write in different genres under different pen names in an effort not to confuse their core readers, but again, these are established authors WITH readers. You’re no one.

The point I’m making by listing these few authors who write under pen names is that you are putting yourself in their company by thinking you should write under a pen name. No. Just stop.

Let’s say that you’re an unknown author who manages to secure a major publishing deal. They’re going to publish YOUR book. Why in the hell would you want a name on the cover besides your own? That’s a serious question I’m asking. If you have an answer I want you to write it in the comments because I don’t have one. Think about it. You’ll likely be telling every person who will give you two minutes to tell them about your book and they’ll ask the title so they can look it up. Then they’ll ask why the name is wrong. You’ll say you wrote it under a pen name. They’ll ask why and then think you’re just stupid.

If you’ve honestly asked yourself this question then tell me why and what you decided. I promise not to yell at you.

No offense was meant by this post to anyone. Please still like me. I still like you.