Tuesday, February 28, 2023

An Unpopular Opinion on an Ethical Issue

 This week's topic:
Ethics: What thorny issue have I dealt with or worry about as an author?

Oh. Eeeeee. Hmmm. Because I love you, dear readers, I'll brace for the tarring and feathering that comes from holding a very unpopular opinion about a sticky sitch, a slippery slope, a squicky scene that is not an uncommon occurrence in the publishing industry:  

Being a professional editor or agent in the same genre you are an author.

By "professional" I mean that you get paid. It's not that I don't understand leveraging one's skills into additional income streams. On the whole, authors aren't wealthy. We need $$. On the other hand, one job entitles you to finances, information, resources, and opportunities that benefit your other job. Mildly stated, it's an unfair advantage. The practice enables easily exploited circumstances and acts as a gateway to all sorts of ethical breaches. It's akin to government officials trading stocks in industries they regulate or legislate. Conflicts of Interest aren't--by-in-large--illegal, but they are unethical. 

I know, I know, I know there are people of good repute who are both authors and editors/agents in the same genre. Some have success in one field more than the other; some are equally unsuccessful or successful in both. Yes, I do know a few of these folks personally and they are lovely people. However, none of that makes the practice any less of a Pandora's Box of ethical issues. 

{checks temperate of tar. winces.}

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Being a Better Critique Partner / Beta Reader


As an educator, I believe all of us are always learning. As a writer, I can be shy and anxious when sharing my work to a new person or group. I try to remember both  these attitudes when I'm a critique partner or a beta reader.

Writers are always learning

When I teach creative writing, I help students take risks and experiment. We know that publishers, readers, and agents are looking for fresh, unique voices. Yet young people today are caught by the expectations for instant success and living perfect lives. Failure is difficult, even though more seasoned writers know that is how we learn. 

Writing is messy. It's necessary to try and fail and try again. 

Young people are also hampered by social media's value of conformity, which can be the death knoll to the creative process. Much of my efforts as a teacher go into encouraging their unique perspectives: helping them find their voice. What are their individual style and interests? What genres do they like? Tone and narrative voices? What sets them apart from the other students in the class? When they can answer these questions--and not fear being vulnerable and authentic--they can lean in to who they are as a writer and their writing will improve. 

A common mistake beginning writers make is to think that their critique partners don't "get" what they're trying to do. That's not a helpful altitude--it infers that you cannot learn from your writing group and it ruins any chance for building trust. It stops you from listening to your first readers. Remember, if you are planning to publish your work, then you are writing for readers not yourself. You need to think about your readers and their experience reading your work, not your experience writing it. Listen and learn. You'll get something out of it, even if you don't agree with everything.

Sharing your work can be hard!

Many writers can have a thin skin or may feel uncertain about a piece of writing--though we can gain confidence as we gain experience, many of us are sensitive artist types who appreciate a positive, encouraging attitude. Some authors prefer tough criticism, while others like a gentler tone--it's worth asking your critique partner if they have preferences or certain needs. I've never forgotten a student who exclaimed, "I love praise!" when we were discussing her work. This was a key motivator for her, and it was so helpful for me to know this information.

Think about the goals of the critique session. Is this a first draft and they need advice on story structure and character development? Or is it a more polished piece and they are looking for more granular suggestions? Does their confidence need shoring up because they're stuck in the muddy middle? Could they use some brainstorming or a sounding board? Are they ready to be challenged and take their writing to the next level? Is it time to pull out the tough love?

Writing is like learning to walk. So many small pieces go together to make up the actions, and not everyone learns them in the same way or at the same pace. It can be overwhelming if we try to tackle everything all at once. Be conscious of where your critique partners are in the learning process.

Critique partners, alpha readers, and beta readers all make our work better, if we respect the process and use it as a learning experience for everyone. 


Friday, February 24, 2023

Critique Ground Rules

In offering: One perfect white rose from the bush in the front garden:

Critique situations have the potential to be fraught with emotional mines. You can make it harder on yourself or you can make it easier.

Hard: just join a group of people you don't know and who don't read the genre you write.
Easier: It helps to at least be familiar with your proposed critique partners. Not everyone has to write the same genre and subgenre, but if you write scifi or erotica, it sure helps to dodge groups full of people allergic to those genres. You'll be happier if you're reading stories you generally like to read and you'll be far more confident of the critiques you'll receive if the people reading you understand the conventions of your genre.

Hard: Mixing beginning writers with very seasoned writers. Not saying this to be a snob. This is about offering critique at a level someone can fully comprehend and *action*. My example: my first few RWA conferences, I had the option to attend Margie Lawson workshops. Went to one and left halfway through because it was so far ahead of where I was as a writer, I couldn't understand what was being presented. Now, after a few books under my belt and a critical eye toward how I put emotion on the page, I can and do grasp the concepts I once couldn't. Further, I can apply the teaching and see the immediate change in my craft. Mixing wildly different skill levels makes life hard for everyone.
Easier: Finding a group of writers who are about at the same level as you are - some are farther along the road and they'll pull you along. A few will be a little way back on the road and you'll help pull them along. It creates synergy.

Once you've found your group, you have to learn how to both accept and offer critique with grace and with humor. These are some hard won ground rules I'm about to lay on you. We won't talk about how I worked them out other than to say it wasn't pretty.

  • Leave your defensiveness at the door. Learn to listen with your mouth closed whether you agree or disagree with someone's critique (until it's your turn to talk.)
  • Assume the best intentions./Come with the best intentions. If anyone in the group hasn't come to help make books better, you have a problem. Don't be that problem.
  • Address the writing and only the writing. Zero personal attacks.
  • The words 'that's dumb' or 'that's stupid' may never leave your mouth in reference to another person's writing.
  • Ask questions. Rather than saying 'you have no point to this scene', ask 'what do you want the point of this scene to be'? This helps if the other writer is getting a little tense in the face of critique. It asks them to think which moves them out of emotion.
  • Suggest possible fixes for any issues you identify. I'm a stickler for this one - if I can't make a suggestion for something that bothers me, I'll mark the section in text and talk through why I'm bothered and then ask for input from the rest of the group for ideas on how to fix because I care enough about my crit partners that I don't want anyone left hanging.
  • Offer ideas and suggestions without ego. You're offering up ideas and suggestions, yes, but release any attachment to having someone use them. Your goal is to spark the other person's imagination, not get your way. If you feel really strongly about an idea, use it yourself. Let everyone else decide what's right for their stories.
  • What happens in critique, stays in critique. Your critique group needs to be a safe space to try new things, make mistakes, learn new technique, and air intellectual property that isn't ready for public consumption. Trust matters for and from all members.
  • Share the wealth of knowledge. Recommend classes that helped you. Share notes where it's ethically legit to do so. Remember a rising tide lifts all boats.

Critique is hard. There's a lot of emotion involved. Learning to navigate your own and everyone else's is no small task. Give yourself and one another grace. I've learned to couch suggestions in terms of opportunity. Ask anyone who's ever been critiqued by me about my favorite phrase: "I feel like you have an opportunity here to <insert plot point, emotional hit, etc>". It's served me well because it offers a writer choice without intimating that they've done something wrong in their book. I may feel that they *have* done something wrong, but I'm sure not going to say that. Maybe that's the last rule: Care about other people's feelings and remember that WIPs are fragile little birds. Gentle, honest handling strengthens them so that when they are released into the world, they're ready to fly.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Want to be a better Beta Reader?

Critique Partner: a fellow writer who you exchange chapters, manuscripts, partials with for feedback.

Beta Reader: a reader who gives feedback to an author on their work in progress.

Definitions for these two roles vary, but at their heart they provide feedback to the writer. Editing help for free, it hardly gets any better! But not all advice is useful, so how do you become a better beta reader or CP?


Yes, I seem to keep saying that, but it applies in so many areas. The more you read the better you’ll become, even subconsciously, at recognizing issues with plot, characters, pacing, you name it! So keep reading! 

Beyond that fun assignment, there are a number of things you can consciously do to become a better beta/CP. 

First, and I’ll argue the most important: make sure you read the genre they are writing in and vice versa. You may have well meaning writing friends, but if they only read say, historicals, they may not be the best fit for your fantasy. 

Second: determine what kind of feedback the writer is looking for. If someone wants commentary throughout of what works and what doesn’t, but you read it through and offer your impression at the end, they won’t be happy. Is it a line edit? Would correcting typos help or get in the way of unraveling the plot hole? So many questions that need answering!

Third: be specific when pointing out problems. Telling someone the story just didn’t hook you isn’t nearly as helpful as hearing their character’s personality changes after the third chapter without any reason why. Or if a scene isn’t necessary, help point out why it drags or lacks connection to the goals/plot. 

Fourth: let the author tell their story. It’s a fine line to help improve a story and attempting to make it sound like your voice. You’re offering suggestions, but in the end it’s their opinion that matters.

And here’s a fifth that’s more than a cherry on top: remember to point out what works. Even writers who want feedback and are expecting their work to be torn apart need to hear some positives sprinkled in here and there. There are always good parts to be found, make sure you point some out!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Three Things to Never Do as a Critique Partner

 I'm engaged in a project this year to promote my backlist more. (*cough* AT ALL *cough*) So today I'm featuring EXACT WARM UNHOLY. This story originally appeared in THE DEVIL'S DOORBELL anthology and it's one of my favorites. I adored writing this troubled, but super smart heroine. So much smexy in this one.

Tonight my name is Mary…

Or is it? Sometimes she’s Tiffany or Syd or Bobbi. But whatever face she wears, she returns to the same bar, to find a new man and seduce him, safe in the knowledge that no one will recognize her. Until one man does.

“And I was ... Stunned by the originality of the concept of this story. Stunned by the emotions it made me experience in such a short expanse of time. Stunned by the beauty of the romance in it that ran parallel to the overwhelming sadness throughout. I mean, seriously. If you don’t fall in love with Peter, you have a heart of stone.”

~ Kristen Ashley on Goodreads


This week at the SFF Seven, we're giving tips on How to Become a Better Beta Reader or Critique Partner. As with many skills, this is one that is acquired over time, through extensive practice and lots of trial and error. In fact, learning to become a better reader for others, with useful feedback to give, is largely a case of figuring out what NOT to do. So that's what I'm offering today.

  1. Don't tell the other writer how to change their work. Focus on what isn't working for you and, if you can, do your best to articulate why it's not working. But resist the temptation to suggest rewrites or any kind of specific plan. Those kinds of feedback move it into the realm of how you would write it, not them.
  2. Don't get emotionally involved. So you hate the protagonist? Maybe you hate the premise? Doesn't matter. Separate your personal reactions from legitimate reader ones. If you can't step away from your personal buttons being pushed, then recuse yourself from reading.
  3. Don't argue with the writer. It's their work. They get the final say. Give them your honest feedback and let it go. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Key to Being a Better CP

 This Week's Topic: Tips for being a better Beta Reader / CP

Hahaha. OMG. {hangs head in shame}. Lo, I raise my face to the heavens and confess my sins. When I started being a CP I hadn't learned the most important thing about constructive critique:

 Tell 'Em What IS Working and Why. 

As a CP, I'm a stronger developmental reviewer (which is an Alpha Reader/CP thing) than I am a line or copy reviewer. My analytical brain overreacts to Where's the Plot Ball, That Shit Makes No Sense, and Failure to Meet Genre Minimum Expectations, so I bleed Add Comments all over the doc. As an author, receiving dev edits is usually the greatest cause of bourbon binging because fixing developmental issues usually means rewriting whole chapters and/or morphing plot threads throughout multiple arcs. You can bet the author is desperate for at least one (if not a dozen or three dozen) callouts for something that is working well. Big or small. 

As a CP or Alpha Reader, the last thing you want is for the author to change something that moves you or crystallizes a character conflict or plot challenge, etc. Alas, sometimes, to fix the larger issue that Really Awesome Scene has to go. Thus, it's important to say why that moment works for you. If you can articulate what moved you, then the author can either salvage or make a point of hitting that same note in a different way or at a different point. It's not uncommon for one of my comments to be "love this section and these (specific) lines that show them laying bare their heart but it kills pacing; could work better if moved to ChX after the blahblah conflict."

Line edits and copy edits carry less sting, but still need to be balanced by positive comments. Is there a line that made you literally LOL? Add that LOL as a comment. A scene move you to tears? Tell 'em! Dating a new book boyfriend now? Yessss. Say so! Those smexy times get you hot and bothered too? There's no shame in tagging it as hot, hot, hot. Catch an Easter Egg? Teehee. Give 'em props. 

It's too easy to think that as reviewers we only provide value by pointing out what's wrong, when, in truth, highlighting the really good stuff is just as important. 

To my early CPs, I apologize--profusely--for being an asshole. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

For the love of fantasy romance


I've always been drawn to writing the books I most want to read. I grew up immersed in the worlds of Terry Books and Piers Anthony, while also devouring Sweet Valley High books. Even then, I longed to find the perfect cross over. Naturally I was a huge fan of Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey, who at least touched on the kind of emotional arc I craved, though they weren't as spicy as my ideal. Because I found it hard as a teen to locate books that really scratched my fantasy romance itch, I'm thrilled to be part of a growing subgenre of fantasy romance writers. In my stories, I’m always trying to  hit the sweet spot for readers searching for emotionally complex characters, a satisfying love story and all the wonder and magic of a fantasy world.

I love the creativity and possibility in good speculative fiction, and the way the big sandbox of world building allows us to think about the real world in a new way. There is a wonderful freedom to writing fantasy and science fiction, especially in the fantasy realm, where the broad expectations of the genre mean the only limit is your imagination. At the same time, I'm a character first writer so the emotional journey is where the juice is for me, particularly when it comes to the plot and story arc. I wouldn't know how to shape a novel without a satisfying love story at its center. While I still read contemporary romance and a wide variety of speculative fiction, I can't imagine writing anything but in that crossroads niche where my two favorite genres meet.

If you are interested in exploring the fantasy romance niche, an anthology from 20 authors is available now for a reduced price. Once Upon a Forbidden Desire (https://books2read.com/forbiddenfairytales) is a collection of completely original retold fairytales--since many fairytales are iconic tales of magic and romance! With a wide variety of settings, steam levels, and characters, it is truly a lovely sampler pack for fantasy romance. Try it out, and maybe you’ll fall in love with the subgenre as much as I have!

Jaycee Jarvis is an award-winning fantasy romance author, who combines heartfelt romance with immersive magical worlds. When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her spouse, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Twitter: @JayceeJarvis
Spoutible: @JayceeJarvis

Friday, February 17, 2023

Fantasy Genres - the Creepier, the Better

This is going to read rough. I'm coming down off a weird viral thing (not Covid, believe me, I tested more than once) that had me asleep for 36 hours straight. Today is the first day I've been upright without tipping over. No warranty express or implied, I'm afraid. I have the mental acuity of a lettuce.

Genre Love

How am I supposed to pick my favorite fantasy genres? I like them all. I grew up consuming mostly epic, other worldly fantasy. You know the kind. Knights, horses, swords, vast spooky forests to cross before the evil on the other side can be conquered. Sprinkled into that were the contemporary world colliding with inexplicable bits of magic. These were usually YA books.

Interestingly, there was no urban fantasy when I was reading in my youth. If a fictional world spoke of the future near or far at all, it was in terms of science. I don't know where the switch in the zeitgeist came about but I know that urban fantasy hit my radar while I was still in high school in the early 80s. Charles de Lint introduced me to the bare edges of the urban fantasy map. Then through an odd confluence of events, strange brain chemistry, and neurodivergence, I slid from my intended life path into working in technology. And I slid more firmly across the threshold into urban fantasy.

I don't know what it is about those of us who were born into a world well before personal computers and cells phones. I find a startling number of us still harbor this sneaking suspicion that our world is held aloft by  tenuous threads woven by a cabal of technowizards somewhere. More than half of us admit to talking to our technology - and I don't mean Siri. We speak to our machines as if they held some sentience. Some of us of pagan persuasion insist that all objects, animate or inanimate, contain a kind of spirit even if we wouldn't entirely call it a soul. I say this not so much so you can worry after my sanity (far too late, y'all) as to say that perhaps you can see how the world of technology melded with the fantasy world of curious magics and curiouser sprites, Fae, and spirits.

Urban fantasy seems to happen at the point where humanity risks being subsumed by everything humanity has wrought - whether it's technology or an unfeeling city that's threatening to swallow up the main character. Magic in an urban fantasy context seems to either act as a flicker of hope, or yet another dehumanizing obstacle to be overcome. I think, though, that I like urban fantasy for the experience of marking out the people who can see what lies underneath and those who can only see what's presented on the surface. There's a story Charles de Lint did called Crow Girls. One of his characters can see the young human sisters in the crows who come to the yard every day. Everyone else just sees ragged crows. Eventually, the girls shapeshift for the POV character and everyone helps solve everyone else's issues where they can. There's a story about perception being told there and it feels familiar to me.

Not to mention that I get the chance to play with creepy imagery. I might not have the chops for horror and that's fine. But I do love a good skin crawling creep out and it's in fantasy - especially urban fantasy - that I get the chance to play with giving myself the heebie jeebies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Fantasy Romance: My Niche and I Love It

THE ORCHID THRONE, book one in the completed Forgotten Empires trilogy, is on sale this month! A great time to escape from winter and revel in this enemies to lovers (she imprisons and plans to execute him!) epic fantasy romance set in a tropical paradise. 

This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking about finding your niche. We're asking each other, what subgenres speak to you as an author?

This is an easy one for me! My niche has pretty much ALWAYS been epic fantasy romance, even before anyone knew what to call it. That's just how the stories came out. Which is not a great thing, if you're writing in a niche before the niche exists. It's like being a creature ahead of the evolutionary curve, ready for that climate change that has not yet occurred. You can survive (maybe), but not necessarily flourish. 

That history makes yesterday's news particularly exciting for me! Tor Publishing Group announced that they're kicking of a new romantic imprint! I love that this is clearly publisher Devi Pillai's baby, as she truly loves to read this sort of SFF/R crossover. Monique Patterson will head up the imprint, and she is a much-admired editor who comes over from the SMP Romance side of Macmillan. Exciting times!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Twu Wuv: Beloved Fantasy Subgenres

This Week's Topic: Finding My Niche.
What subgenres speak to me as an author?

Aww, what a great topic for Valentine's Day. 💖A topic about wuv, twu wuv. Subgenre wuv. 💖 The depth of subgenres of Fantasy can only be contained in a Bag of Holding. The endless niches are portals to worlds coming into existence. I could wax on (and off!) but, to answer the question my top 3 would be:

Contemporary Fantasy -- It's happening in the here-and-now, just not in a world with a world order you're accustomed to seeing.

Urban Fantasy -- Gimme your cities run by Others. Put forth your orc mayors, your dryad landscapers, your shifter soldiers, and your golem construction workers. Why yes, I will take a unicorn Uber. Ah, no Fae barista, you cannot have my real name.

High Fantasy -- These worlds ain't a European history AU. They're weirder. They're mishmashes and hodgepodges with settings and social structures that make sipping deliriants seem de rigueur. Buckle up for a journey to the 4th sun's moon where time is told by what cities are visible. 

What's your favorite subgenre of fantasy? Are fantastical creatures involved? 🐉 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Reader Investment

author Alexia Chantel standing with an armful of books that reaches past her nose and her Siberian husky stretched out sleeping at her feet

What makes readers invested in a story? I’ve seen writers stress over this question. With good reason, because it is important. But I also don’t believe it needs to be over complicated.

First: acknowledge that you will never ever get every reader to become invested in your story. 

Are we good? You’ve all acknowledged that perfection in storytelling is pure, unadulterated fiction? Great. Let’s move on!

Second: you read, right? Think about the books that sucked you in right away, the ones that you couldn’t stop thinking about after you hit The End, the characters that you possibly consider friends. 

Some books carry a certain magic. And no, I’m not talking strictly fantasy reads. I’m referring to the magic that invests your heart and/or mind in the story. And like any magic, or cake, once you understand the components you can make your own.

Ingredients to Hook a Reader:

  • an Irresistible Plot. Think of the kinds of cat-nip tropes that appeal to the greater population, like enemies to lovers or heists!
  • an Intriguing Character. If you love them, or love to hate them, then it’l likely that your readers will to. Don’t write wishy-washy characters!
  • an Unforgettable Location. That spooky house on the hill, the abandoned space station, or the cottage in the woods—you’ve read about them and fallen in love with them…now write one!
  • a Compelling Problem. What seemingly insurmountable issue is at the heart of your book? Who can put down a well-written mystery or thriller? Who can resist reading about a dominating, immovable force being taken down? Not me! 

Magic needs a reason to show up, and if you start with the right components your chances go up. For me, that list contains the main ingredients. For different flavors, there are countless combinations you can try. And for that sparkling incredible success, you’ll need a healthy dash of luck.

May your writing be irresistible this week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Three Simple* Steps to Entice Reader Engagement


Exciting day today! For today only, 200 of the most amazing books in Fantasy Romance, Gaslamp Romance, Monster Romance, and Paranormal Romance are FREE! Go load up your eReaders by clicking here https://farofeb.com/freebooks/ Below are some samples of the books available, including my own DARK WIZARD

This week at the SFF Seven we're talking about what makes readers invested in a story. It's an interesting question, really, and the subject of much debate. I think every author would love to know the "magic formula" for making this happen in every book. Sometimes, though, it can be a real surprise what readers latch onto. There's always an element of unpredictability there that's part of the joy of creating and storytelling. (Which is one reason why I believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will never supplant human creativity, but that's another discussion.)

So, my thoughts on ways to engage readers and entice them into being engaged in a story?

  1. Give them characters that feel like they could be best friends
    Whether it's found family, besties, romance, or a protagonist we fall in love with, readers want characters who feel like real people they know and care about.
  2. Give them a world they want to live in
    We read to live in other worlds, even if they're a simulacrum of the world we live in. Readers love that opportunity to step outside of their daily lives.
  3. Give them a story that inspires emotion
    Happy, sad, tragic, romantic - the feeling of a story is what lingers after we close that final page. Even if a reader can't recall plot details, they'll remember how a book made them feel.

*Of course, none of this is actually simple. It takes craft, talent, and lots and lots of practice. Read widely. Re-read your favorites. Observe how other authors accomplish this and emulate shamelessly!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Keeping a Reader Reading

 This Week's Topic: What Makes Readers Invested In a Story?

Short answer: Empathy. 

Longer answer: Giving a damn about the character(s). A whole host of style flaws or storytelling glitches will be overlooked if the reader cares about the cast. It's not to say a reader has to see themselves in the character. Heck, some readers don't want that at all. OTOH, others absolutely crave self-insertion. Your protag can be the most despicable antihero ever, but if you can make the readers care whether that character lives, dies, suffers, fails, succeeds, or gets a comeuppance, then the reader is invested. They're turning pages. They're putting that book down long enough to pee and coming back. Sure, vivid settings are good. Unique magic or hard science is a nice-to-have vehicle of conflict or development. But EOD, it's all about the characters. 

Don't get me wrong. The character(s) don't have to be human or humanoid. Some of my favorite thrillers place the house as the protagonist. Every time a nail goes into a wall, I feel that stab wound. Furniture being dragged across the floor, gouging the hardwood? Wall demolished? Abandoned by the family it cosseted? All the agh, grr, and noooooos. 

Want to keep a reader...reading? Give them a character to care about. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Lack of Newsletter Love

 I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret. I hate newsletters. Hates 'em, my precious. Don't read them. Don't write them. Don't send them. I subscribe to exactly three and they are all people I know and care about. Do I open them and read them? No. I get what I need from the subject line and I move on.

Time is a commodity. It has value - possibly the only value - because it is the measure of your finite life. I begrudge no one reading a newsletter, if that's their thing, but in a world that competes for time and attention, the newsletter feels -- I don't know -- not my cup of happy juice.

This is a long way of saying I am absolutely the wrong person to talk to about how to increase newsletter subscribers. I am so bad at sending newsletters that MailChimp fired me as a customer. Seriously. I hadn't served a newsletter in so long, they deleted my database of subscribers. All 60 of them. S'okay. I know all of them. If they want to know what I'm up to, they call or text to ask.

Still. We want to reach readers. We want to let readers know how to find out what we're doing and what's coming up. For some genres, I feel like newsletters are totally appropriate. For scifi, I wonder. I'm actually thinking that I might be better served to leverage a Tik Tok format for a pseudo newsletter-y type of thing. Or Discord. Or some other place where my fellow geeks hang out. This could all be rationalization for the fact that I'm bad at newsletters.

Suppose, though, that I *did* start some 'contact readers' push. How would I draw people to consume my content? Cross pollenization. It has to be done carefully, but you can leverage one platform's content on other social media platforms. Link them all back to a single landing page with you pertinent info - new release, find me at this place at this time! Whatever you want readers to know. The key to success is the same as it in newsletters - offer value. Something silly. Something charming. Something that makes readers feel. Control that and ask for responses. Engagement equals reach. Reach means more eyes. Does it work? Don't know yet. It would have to be tried and tested. The level of effort has to be weighed against the return.

And that's on each author.