What kind of reader are you? (survey!)

I have something a little fun and different for us today!

Every night after we’ve cooked and cleaned up dinner, Jarrett and I turn to each other and say “Sooo…should we read tonight? Or watch TV?”

That’s how exciting we are.

But really: those are about the only two leisure activities we like after a long day of work, and each one has about a 50/50 shot of winning out, based on how brain-tired we feel from the workday. But it got me to thinking: people fit reading into their days in such different ways!

I know a lot of people who read for a few minutes on their morning commutes, or can only squeeze in 30 minutes during a lunch break, or who rely on audiobooks to keep them up with their to-be-read lists. But everyone I know wishes they could read more.

So I thought it would be fun to do a little survey called “What kind of reader are you?”

what kind of reader are you

Click here to take the survey!

You can tell me all about what books you’re reading, what challenges you’re facing in your reading life, what genres or categories you most love to read, and more! I’d love to hear all about you. The survey is 7 very brief, mostly multiple-choice questions, so it shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes to complete.

At the end of the survey, you’ll also find a box for telling me anything else you’d like me to know about you–anything from what you’re working on, what your writing struggles are, or what you’d like me to write about next. I take personal requests very seriously, so if there’s something you want me to talk about specifically on the blog, now’s your chance to get all those questions answered!

And since there’s nothing more fun than talking about books, I’ll share the results next week, so you can see how you stack up against the other readers in our little community!

The survey will be open until this Monday, July 24th at 5 EST and will close after that.

I can’t wait to hear from you and share the insights with you all next week!

Get one tip for upgrading your literary life sent to your inbox each week!

 


What I’m Reading This Week:

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead (James Clear): I recently discovered James Clear’s site and have been really enjoying his writing on habits and learning systems. James wrote the equivalent of two books in one year (!!), and he did it by setting up systems, inspired by this Wall Street Journal article he read by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. Success comes down to committing to the process, and if you need a little reminder of that, here’s a free printable art print I created to remind you that you can’t rush something you want to last forever.

you can't rush something you want to last forever quote printable

Best Books of 2017 (So Far) (Book Riot): Maybe you need something new to read right now? Here are the best books from the first half of this year–browse away!

Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering (Literary Hub) “There are ecological reasons to question how books are made out of trees but metaphysical reasons to rejoice in the linkage between forests and libraries, here in this public library, in the town I grew up in, with the fiber from tens of thousands of trees rolled out into paper, printed and then bound into books, stacked up in rows on the shelves that fill this place and make narrow corridors for readers to travel through, a labyrinth of words that is also an invitation to wander inside the texts.”

3 Ways to an Acquisition Editor’s Heart (Chad R. Allen): These 3 things are also what I look for in potential authors. This is a great piece for any writer climbing up the mountain toward publication.

A Taste for Books (Monte Burke in Garden & Gun): Rick Ellis has a stunning collection of vintage cookbooks socked away in his gorgeous New York City loft, and this piece takes you through the highlights of his Southern cookbooks. I get a little giddy reading articles like these (cookbooks! everywhere!) and especially loved the shoutout to my old favorite, The Virginia Housewife.


What We’re Eating This Week:

It’s hot out; we’ve been gone every weekend (camping, beach, etc.); and the fanciness factor in our kitchen is at an all-time low. And yet, I just can’t stop scratching that itch to meal plan and cook something that sounds like something (i.e., not hot dogs) every night. What is wrong with me? Next week, I swear to eat hot dogs for dinner one night, and not even with any fancy toppings, either. It is the summer after all, and I need a break.

Monday: Jarrett picked the One-Pot Shells with Broccoli recipe from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow, and I added sautéed chicken to it because I like complicating things. (It was good!)

Tuesday: We could have chosen one vegetable curry recipe to make, but after a long day of stretching your brain and making decisions, isn’t it so much more fun to compile multiple recipes and ideas and substitutions until you have one FrankenCurry and no thoughts at all left in your brain? Tuesday, you won.

Wednesday: Out! Beautiful, beautiful restaurant food.

Thursday: Okay, so there’s this fast casual chain in the DC area called CAVA, and they serve breakfast at only one of their spots nationwide: the Reagan Airport location. I had the egg and lentil bowl there last summer on my way to LA for BlogHer, and inexplicably, I was attacked this week by the most horrendous craving for THAT EXACT BREAKFAST. All I can think about is soft scrambled eggs and black lentils. Which means I shall spend tonight maniacally trying to recreate all 87 of CAVA’s bowl components, using this recipe as a guideline. I either have too much time on my hands or a complete lack of good judgment. Maybe both! Woo.

Friday: Chicken Fil-A on our way to the beach. My good judgment is redeemed.

Cheers!

 

How John Green won millions of fans (and 4 ways you can build a fanbase, too)

I was scrolling through my daily Publisher’s Weekly a few weeks ago when I spotted the news: John Green is writing a new book called Turtles All the Way Down, and it will be published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on October 10th.

Cue the fan fare! 🎉🎉🎉

Within days of the announcement, Turtles All the Way Down shot up the Amazon bestseller list, and it’s now keeping it’s spot as the #5 bestseller out of all books. John Green is beloved by millions of readers, and he’s the kind of novelist every literary agent and publisher would dream of having on their list. But I’ve always been curious about what makes John Green so successful, other than his writing (because having a great book is always Step 1, but it’s no guarantee your book will breakout.) So how did John Green get to have a fan club of millions of readers, a whole world of fan fiction surrounding his books, and such impressive accolades for his writing?

john green fandom nerdfighters short

If you want to excel at anything, watch the people who are already excelling. But if you want to really get deep and understand what separates the bestselling authors from the struggling authors, you need to talk to their readers.

So today I’m thrilled to have Lydia DuBois on the blog to talk about the 4 things writers can do to build a massive and loyal fan base and readership like John Green. Lydia is a sophomore at the University of Richmond (my alma mater!) and a summer intern at Stonesong, and she’s been working behind-the-scenes to spot great manuscripts in the submissions inbox, scout potential new authors, and learn everything she can about what makes books work. She’s smart as a whip, an avid reader, and a close watcher of the John Green craze of the past few years.

So enough from me–here’s Lydia on what younger readers really think of John Green:

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6 books to read if you’re obsessed with ‘Hamilton’

 Do you read the same things as your husband or wife? Jarrett and I can both get into old classics like E.B. White, but most of the time, we’re reading on different ends of the nonfiction spectrum.

Jarrett reads what I call doorstoppers–1,000+ page books on historical figures and events. I can’t even find a comfortable way to position myself on the couch with one of those books. (On your back with the book resting on your chest? Leaning it against your legs? Asking Pepper to hold it for you?) It’s just too heavy, and it’s not all that interesting to me, either.

Instead, right now I’m dipping in and out of How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. Every last one of those is light-as-a-feather and perfect for hammock reading over the long Fourth of July weekend.

But if you’re looking for something a little more appropriate for Fourth of July, and you’re less of a wimp than I am, I’ll point you over to Jarrett, who has 6 of the best books to read if you’re obsessed with Hamilton and still can’t get Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics out of your head, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen the musical.

Even if you haven’t seen Hamilton, these are still some great patriotic books to read for the 4th of July, as well as some of the best books about America’s founding fathers. And I don’t say that lightly–Jarrett does a lot of research before choosing which biography to read about each of America’s founding fathers, and he always picks one that’s widely considered both the best work and a single-volume, yet comprehensive, treatment of that founding father.

But enough from me. Here’s Jarrett with 6 patriotic books to read this 4th of July if you’re obsessed with Hamilton.

Best books if you love Hamilton

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The only program I’ll recommend for writers + bloggers

It’s Friday, and it’s summer, and probably the last thing on your mind is next week’s to-dos. Pepper is definitely checked out already:

literary agent book blog

(Job update: our local post office is hiring, and we’re helping Pepper work on her resume and cover letter so she can apply. Progress is slow. Hope is dwindling.)

Anyway, if you give me your ear for just 2 minutes on this pretty summer Friday, I want to tell you about one of my favorite things ever: Food Blogger Pro, which is closing for enrollment this coming Tuesday, the 27th.

If you don’t know Lindsay and Bjork of Pinch of Yum, they’re behind FBP, and they run one of the best blogs out there. Let’s pause on that thought: they run one of the best blogs out there. Not best food blogs, but best blogs, period. (And yes, FBP is great for all kinds of bloggers!)

I’ve worked with hundreds of bloggers, all who were already at the peak of their games, since by the time they get to me, we’re talking about publishing a book. I’ve read and scouted and sorted through thousands of blogs over the years, and there are only (and forgive me for saying it, but literally) 5 blogs I follow regularly, religiously, excitedly. Pinch of Yum is one of them.

And you know why? It’s not about the food. (But you should definitely eat this, because WEEKEND.

It’s because Lindsay and Bjork have what every blogger and writer wants:

an authentic voice + a big-time platform + integrity.

Lindsay and Bjork can teach you how to grow a blog and make a fantastic income from your writing, without having to be one of those shout-y, pushy marketing types who make the internet just plain annoying.

As you all know, I almost never recommend courses in this space. (Because the truth is: most “experts” out there aren’t experts. They’re just trying to brand themselves as experts. And part of my job is weeding out the true experts from the hyped-up, big-talkers.)

But I have the utmost respect for Food Blogger Pro because I’ve seen it produce dozens of top-tier bloggers who went on to get big book deals. Everybody who comes out of FBP, whether they’re a food blogger or blog about anything else under the sun, has that special mix of voice + platform + integrity. And I won’t name names, but probably some of your favorite authors have gone through FBP in the many years it’s been running.

And because I could shout about FBP from the rooftops all day, but I promised I’d only take up a few minutes of your precious Friday, here are just 2 more things I especially love about it:

  • Learn From The Best: Every writer and blogger I know dreams of making a full-time income from their words, but they don’t know how to get traffic or monetize their creative work. Every month, Pinch of Yum makes between $40,000 to $60,000 in income and receives over 4,000,000 page views. Why learn from someone else when you can learn from the best?
  • It’s a Surprisingly Great Deal: You get 300+ videos, access to a forum where you can ask more experienced bloggers anything (!), and discounts to tools you really need, like ConvertKit, Tailwind, SwankyPrints, and others. Also, because they’re overachievers, this year Lindsay and Bjork are also including their Edit Academy course (which teaches you how to make food videos and usually sells for $129) and Nutrifox (which is their nutrition labeling tool and costs $89/year) in FBP membership. Which by the way, costs only $29 per month. Which by the way, is less than I spend on treats for Pepper each month. Which by the way, results in no return whatsoever in my investment.

But enough from me–if you’re interested in learning more, you can read all about Food Blogger Pro here. If you decide it’s for you, you can use my link to get 10% off membership. I get a tiny percentage if you use my link; you get a great discount off the retail price; Pepper gets an allowance to buy treats. That’s a win-win-woof. (I couldn’t stop myself! Please forgive me.)

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