Self Publishing: The Key To Reader Satisfaction

Updated: November 16th, 2018

I’ve been a member of the book blogging community since 2012, and everywhere I look I see aspiring authors — they’re networking with bloggers, participating in NaNoWriMo, and sending query letters to The Big Five of the publishing world (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster).

As a book blogging community, we share a common goal: we want to find books that we will love and then share them with others. We want to enjoy quality writing and spread the word about quality authors, and yet we far too often disregard, or, worse still, blatantly dismiss the very industry that is achieving those goals. Now, I know what you’re thinking:

Potter
Source: Tumblr

But I promise, you’ll want to hear (read?) this one out.

Mention the words “self-published author” or “indie books” in our community and you’ll get reactions ranging from the thinly veiled disdain of book blog Horn Books in stating why they refuse to accept indie novels for review:

“Just about every adult I ever met has ‘a great idea for a children’s book’ that is always an AWFUL idea for a children’s book, and, thanks to the greater ease of self-publishing, those books are coming to light.” (Sutton)

To the outright disgust of HuffPost writer, Laurie Gough, in stating why she will never self-publish:

“From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature.” (Gough)

I do not mean to suggest that all bloggers or readers are like this, only that the industry as a whole, and many prominent figures in it, still react this way to the notion that someone rejected by the all-knowing Big Five of traditional publishing would consider self-publishing their novel. (Also, while we’re at it, anyone painfully reminded of the Big Three of Percy Jackson’s Greek gods?) But here are the facts: the scene is changing. Traditional publishing is losing sales, and self-publishing is topping the best seller lists (we’ll come back to that one in a bit).

Thad McIlroy of BookBusinessMag compiled information from 2016 quarterly financial reports from The Big Five and found that sales and profits are “mostly flat or declining” and that in order to cut costs, there have been layoffs and consolidation, and he concludes that there’s not much more they can do to cut their costs (McIlroy).

So why are we still so hesitant to read, review, or write self-published novels? Since my brother first introduced me to the world of indie books when he self-published his first novel nearly seven years ago, I’ve seen a lot of arguments for and against self-publishing, and I’ve seen the reaction on many a face when they realized my brother had self-published. So let’s start by clearing up three major misconceptions in the TradPub vs. SelfPub world:

Misconception #1: TradPub Will Pick Up The Best Books

This is probably the most common argument when it comes to the world of indie books, and it’s an understandable one. We have this idea in our heads that the big publishing companies are these “gatekeepers” who determine who is or is not permitted to grace the Great Kingdom of Published Authors with their presence. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading voraciously since I was a little girl, it’s this — Everyone loves the unexpected hero.

Katniss
Do you love Katniss Everdeen because she went along with the established system? No. So, why do we need some established entity to tell us if they think a book is “good” enough to read when we certainly didn’t require Katniss to receive that approval from the gamemakers? (Gif source: Tumblr)
Tris
Do you love Tris Prior because she was formally recruited into Dauntless? No. So, why do we feel that a book needs to be be validated with a formal business deal if we didn’t require such validation for Tris’ membership in Dauntless? (Gif source: WeHeartIt)
giphy
Do you love Malcolm Reynolds because he was the poster boy of The Alliance? No. So, why do we insist that a book must be adored and celebrated by governing bodies when we never required that of our Captain? (Gif source: Rebloggy)

All Tributes, Initiates, and Browncoats know that it is not possible to answer yes to any of the above questions. Katniss Everdeen defied The Capitol and the system it had established, Tris Prior fought her way into Dauntless despite all of the professional opinions that she shouldn’t, and Malcolm Reynolds lost the Battle of Serenity Valley and spent his life on the run from The Alliance.

We love these characters, not because of who approved of them, but because they proved themselves through their character and heroism. They were each fiercely independent and refused to be held back by other’s rules or expectations for them, and we applaud them for it. So why don’t we feel the same way about authors who create such heroes and the books in which their stories unfold?

Larry Correia, author of the originally self-published (and, might I add, best selling) Monster Hunter International (M.H.I.) series, explains that the fundamental problem with the “gatekeeper” argues that what constitutes ‘the best books’ is subjective, giving the example of Twilight – a book that he would never buy, but millions of people have. He says, “‘Good’ is arbitrary. The real question is whether your product is sellable.” And with the Larry Correia sass his fans have come to expect and appreciate, he adds, “(and yes, it is just a product, get over yourself)” (Correia 2016).

To find an example of the flaws of the gatekeepers, one need look no farther than household name J.K. Rowling, who had her first Harry Potter book rejected twelve times prior to its eventual publication. Years later, when she published her first adult novel, J.K. Rowling, now topping Forbes’ world’s highest paid authors list, having earned $98 million in 2017 (Cuccinello), was rejected twice before being published (Marsden).

Misconception #2: SelfPub is For Those Who Can’t Get Picked up by a Real Company

Translation: Indie novels are the failures that the gatekeepers tried to save you from (see above misconception about gatekeepers). Now, I won’t deny that many authors first go indie when they had no success with TradPub. After all, publishing companies reject 90% of query letters they receive from authors, and that’s just the query letter, not even the manuscript (Shine).

However, I don’t think you can call any author a failure when enough readers want to throw money at them that the author can quit his or her day job to write (and publish) full-time.A fantastic example of that is J.S. Morin, a relatively new discovery of mine and an instant favorite. He recently hit 5 years as a self-published author (traditionally publishing only one series), and, get this, in those five years, he has published thirty five books (Morin).

Yeah, you read that right. Five years, thirty five books. He quit his day job as an engineer to treat writing as a full-time career, and his readers (myself most certainly included) love the pace at which he is able to release books because of that. I listened to his 16.5 book series (long story on that one), The Complete Black Ocean Mobius Missions, over the period of weeks. If listened to at a normal speed, that’s 85 hours of recorded audio, however, I listen at 1.5-2x, so make of that what you will. His quick releases made it possible to keep the momentum of the series and keep getting fans hyped for the next installment.

Source: GeeksMirage

Let’s be real here, y’all, the age of waiting a year in between books and then throwing midnight release parties are long gone. J.K. Rowling largely had a monopoly on them. They were an amazing time, but face it, they’re over. We live in a binge watching society, and it certainly doesn’t take us a year to read a book, and turns out, it doesn’t take authors a year to write one, either. Most successful self published authors publish about four books a year.

We live in a monopolistically competitive market — and that’s a fantastic thing for us! Because of the rise of self-publishing, authors are able to break into the writing industry more readily, and the ones willing to make it a full-time career, well, they can crank out quantity and quality and make some serious bank (we’re talking a nice six figures, y’all).

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of reasons why even an established TradPub author would want to go indie, and not just as a last resort. Skeptical? Don’t take my word for it, let’s look at another of my favorite authors: Drew Hayes, TradPub author of the Fred, the Vampire Accountant series and SelfPub author of the Super Powereds series, (not to mention the other series of his that I have yet to read). Drew explains to his readers,

“In truth, I only do one traditionally published series because I genuinely love going indie, especially for projects where it’s a better fit.” (Hayes)

He goes on to talk about the three primary reasons he loves indie publishing so much: the money, the control, and the schedule. (Hayes) Quick summary: indie authors keep 70-100% of the royalties (compared to the 15-40% of TradPub), they have complete creative control over their series (meaning they can do new, riskier things without a company pressuring them to adhere to the tried and true), and they can publish as fast as they can write, making sure that they release books at the optimal time to keep the hype, momentum, and revenue.

Misconception #3: Readers Won’t Pick up a Book Unless it’s Marketed by TradPub

Yeah, try telling that one to the Amazon bestsellers list. As I write this, it is 15:44 on November 11th, 2018, and four of the ten best selling fantasy novels on Amazon are indie (Amazon). If self-published books really were the trash that they get stereotyped as, how could they be taking top ten spots away from classics like the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones (all of which are ranked below them)? How is that even possible without the vast marketing campaigns that these big publishers can run?

Let’s go back to Larry Correia of M.H.I. fame, who self-published his first book after getting rejected by publishers for two years. Through hard work and a lot of self-marketing (he explains that all authors have to self promote— indie authors just do it alone), he made it into bookstores, sold the one thousand copies he had printed, garnered a dedicated and loyal fan base, and even made it to #3 on Entertainment Weekly’s bestseller list (Correia 2008).

I’m a huge fan of Correia. M.H.I was simultaneously the first adult novel and the first urban fantasy novel I had ever read, and my review says it all — I was hooked. Even now, years after having accepted a deal with Baen Books, Correia is still an avid supporter of self-publishing, as is evidenced in his many passionate defenses of self publishing on his blog.

‘Okay, okay,’ I hear you say, ‘Correia was a special case. He just worked exceptionally hard and is probably one of the only indie authors to actually sell.’ Well, as an Economics major, it’s taken me a lot of self restraint so far to resist the urge to fill this post with graphs and charts… but now let’s look at some!

In 2017, Author Earnings, the comprehensive yearly analysis of book sales, broke down each country’s e-book sales by publisher type. Of key importance here are two things to be aware of; red and purple represent the percentage of ebook sales that are TradPub. Bluegreen, and teal, represent the percentage of ebook sales that are SelfPub.

Source: Author Earnings, 2017

You know, while we’re at it, how about we take a quick look at 2018?

Source: Author Earnings, 2018

These are the top ebook publisher types. See that little purple one at the top? That’s the Big Five ebook sales. And the blue, light blue, and green? That’s all indie. Crazy, huh? In my opinion, anyone still refusing the indie market is really just denying themselves the satisfaction of reading some of the best novels of our time. Oh, and…

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Source: Imgur

A common, and undeniably well-founded, concern about SelfPub is the misconception that, without the assistance of a TradPub company and editing team, a novel will not be peer reviewed and edited. However, this is simply not the case. I would be willing to bet that every successful SelfPub author (remember, successful means their product sells) has at least one, if not dozens of beta reading teams. I have been on a number of these teams myself, reading and providing feedback on advanced copies and drafts of SelfPub novels. One could argue that this provides even more opportunities for critiques and editing than a TradPub company can offer.

To Sum It Up: At the end of the day, this incredibly long post comes down to one thing: reader satisfaction. Self-publishing increases the author’s ability to enter the market (both through lack of gatekeepers and by making it possible to actually make a living from writing), gives them the complete creative control necessary to increase the rate at which books can be produced, and, in turn, the rate at which they can be consumed by us, leading to greater reader satisfaction.

Willing to give it a try? Wondering where to get started? Well, aside from the authors I’ve already mentioned above, a few of my favorite indie novels that I’ve reviewed here are: Appaloosa Summer, Persephone, Corporate Husband, The Ugly Stepsister, and The Sailweaver’s Son.

Looking for more?

For the other highly successful indie authors check out the Goodreads pages of: Chris Fox, Annie Bellet, Michael Anderle, Christopher Nuttall, Marco Kloos, T.S. Paul, Lindsay Buroker, Ilona Andrews, Hugh Howey, Sarah K.L. Wilson, M.D. Cooper, and Elana Johnson.

Continue reading “Self Publishing: The Key To Reader Satisfaction”

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ATTENTION: This is not an Automated Post

Howdy y’all!

It’s been a long time! I am back, and I am so excited to get into the swing of things again!

As some of you may recall, from January 2017 to June 2018 I was serving a full-time proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Utah Provo Mission. It was the most amazing experience, and I am so grateful for the people I was able to meet and the things I was able to learn. To learn more about what I was doing, visit lds.org. 

 Since my return home, I’ve been readjusting to normal life. I was a nanny all summer (seriously the best job ever), and now I’m halfway through my first semester of Junior year at Brigham Young University – Provo. Yup, I fell in love with Utah while serving here, and so now I’m back! It’s great, because I get to visit people that I helped and worked with while I was a missionary here.

Since I already have my associates in science, I’m currently working on my bachelors in economics, and then I’ll be going to law school! I want to work as an attorney to fight sex trafficking. My life goal is to work for Tim Ballard of Operation Underground Railroad.

I really want to get as involved as I can in the book blogging world while still staying on top of my studies, so I would love to get caught up! What have I missed? What do I need to know about and get involved in! Unfortunately, textbooks have overtaken fiction novels as my primary reading nowadays. My college #Shelfie is kinda sad, but check out the cute bat halloween lights!

To my beloved authors: If you have sent me a book to read and review, please know that I have not forgotten you! Feel free to shoot me a reminder email (escapingrealitybookreviews@yahoo.com) if you would like, but I promise I am trying my best to get things done! I am so excited to read your work and share my thoughts about them!

I’ll be updating y’all more soon!

Love,

Lynette 💛

TBR Spotlight: Frankenstein Darcy — by Cass Grix

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Frankenstein Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Paranormal

Author: Cass Grix

Genre/Pages: Pride and Prejudice Paranormal Variation / 302

Summary: Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein. When he first comes to Hertfordshire, Frankenstein Darcy is a man of secrets, wanting to find peace. Falling in love with a provincial nobody is not in his plans. Elizabeth Bennet is both intrigued by this tall, dark, handsome stranger and infuriated by his arrogance. Neither of them realize how dangerous falling in love can be.

Frankenstein Darcy is a fun, romantic literary mashup, following the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s greatest romances, and combining it with the themes of Frankenstein, one of the world’s greatest Gothic stories.

In this full length novel, Darcy and Elizabeth deal with the conflict between science and religion, nature vs.nurture, love and friendship, and inner and outer beauty.”

Cover Review: I love it! Beautiful text and overall an aesthetically pleasing cover that accurately represents the contents of the book. 

Why I put it on my TBR list: I am a HUGE fan of Cass Grix. Not just as an author, but also as a person. She is fabulous, and her storytelling completely and immediately immerses you and transports you to a different world. I love everything about her writing, her stories, and her characters.

That said, I’ve never considered myself a Pride and Prejudice fan until I started reading Cass’ books. But now, I have grown to appreciate the story, but moreso, I appreciate what Cass does to make each of her Pride and Prejudice retellings unique and entertaining. And how much more unique can you get than Frankenstein Darcy???

Love Pride and Prejudice? Love Frankenstein? Make sure to order your copy of Frankenstein Darcy today!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

TBR Spotlight: The Last Day of Captain Lincoln — by EXO Books

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title:  The Last Day of Captain Lincoln

 

Author: EXO Books (Yup, that’s his pen name)

Genre/Pages: Science-Fiction /  133

Summary: Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.

An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.

Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.

The End is just the beginning.”

Cover Review: Ehhhhhhhh not so good. Pretty bad, actually. It does a good job of giving the sci-fi feel, but I’m really just not a fan of the art style itself.

Why I put it on my TBR list: This book has a summary that teases an incredible premise and world, but give you almost no information about the story itself.  Deaths that are planned? An effort to save all that is best in humanity? The end is just the beginning? Basically, I’m just confused after reading the summary. Confused, but very intrigued. And since it’s such a short read (133 pages), I’m definitely going to give it a try when I get back from my mission! I have loved science-fiction for a very long time, and I love supporting indie authors, so you can bet that I’ll be reading this one. 

Do you love science-fiction? Make sure to grab your copy of The Last Day of Captain Lincoln!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

Review: In The Herd — by Jayne M. Silberman

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: In the Herd  : A Photographic Journey with the Chincoteague ponies and Assateague ponies

Author: Jayne M. Silberman

Rating:  ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Photographic Documentary / 160

Summary: “The 140 unforgettable images that make up this unique photographic journey are the result of the long-term, unprecedented access the author/photographer was granted to one of this country’s wildest and most beautiful places. Every July, some 40,000 people converge on the barrier islands off the Virginia-Maryland coast to observe the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, a trip that takes the herds only seven minutes to complete (with the assistance of the famous Salt Water Cowboys), but is critical to their preservation. This is the element of herd life best known to the world. But there is so much more to see and know about the wild herds. With the support and cooperation she has received from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and National Park Service, noted wildlife photographer Jayne M. Silberman has devoted years to visiting the area and getting to know the animals firsthand and in every season—their relationships, rituals, behaviors, habits, family life, and intimate moments.  The result is this moving and beautiful array of gallery-quality photos, accompanied by an informative 8,000-word essay presenting the history of the herds and many fascinating details about their environment and way of life. A foreword by Diana XX, queen of XX, completes this enduring, one-of-a-kind volume that will be heralded by lovers of the natural world and fine-art photography, as well as the thousands of devotees of the wild horses themselves.”

Cover Review: This cover is absolutely gorgeous. There’s nothing bad I can say about it –  It’s a beautiful hardcover coffee table-sized book, and it’s perfect.

My Review: As a baby, my first word was “horse”. As a toddler, I had an endless supply of horse toys and stuffed animals. When I was 5, I saw an ad on the tv for horseback riding lessons starting with 6 year olds, and when I turned 6 I convinced my mom to let me start taking riding lessons. When I was 11, my dad took me on a week-long trip to Chincoteague and Assateague islands during the annual Pony Swim (popularized by the Misty of Chincoteague books), and I immediately fell in love with these beautiful wild horses.  At 19 years old, I still stay up to date on the movements and activities of the herds (and I’m still taking riding lessons, in addition to teaching riding lessons, and training horses).

So, when my dad bought me this book for Christmas last year, I immediately fell in love with it. It’s your classic fine art coffee table book, you pick it up and flip through it, marveling at the beautiful pictures, and reading through the wonderful insights and information about these specific horses, then you close it and flip through it another time. It’s not the kind of book you read all the way through in one sitting, but it is the kind of book you love coming back to time and time again.

To Sum It Up: The photography is breathtaking, and the story of these horses is beautifully told. This photographic journey is the perfect gift for the horse lover in your life.

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

TBR Spotlight: Death to the Undead — by Pembroke Sinclair

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Death to the Undead (Life After the Undead, #2)

Author: Pembroke Sinclair

Genre/Pages: Zombie Post-Apocalyptic / 286

Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Krista has already proven she can survive the zombie hordes.

After moving to North Platte with her distant cousin General Liet to help build a wall that will keep the zombies in the West, it becomes apparent that the zombies aren’t the biggest threat—some survivors are far more dangerous than Krista had ever imagined.

With the help of Quinn, a survivor and fighter from the zombie-infested wildlands of the West, they free the garrison at North Platte from the power-hungry Liet. But there is a bigger battle to fight.

The Families who rule Florida and use intimidation and the threat of the zombie horde to coerce their territory want Krista and Quinn captured, the zombies want to devour them, and other survivors want them dead. Caught between powerful forces, will they survive long enough to devise a new plan and put it into action? Or will they self-destruct?

Find out in book two of this thrilling apocalyptic series by author Pembroke Sinclair.”

Cover Review: I like this cover a little more than I do the first one. I know it’s going for the post-apocalyptic feel, but, tbh, I’m getting more of the Old West vibe from it. Which is weird, I know, because there is a modern fence, but whatever. I like the cover, overall!

Why I put it on my TBR list: I’m a huge fan of the author, and so when she offered to send me some of her YA novels, I happily accepted her offer. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get to them before I left on my mission, so this spotlight post will have to suffice for the time being, and to serve as a reminder that I need to read them as soon as I get back. 

Okay, so what I like the best about this story, from what I can tell, is that the entire premise is not just escaping zombies. It’s about rebuilding a destroyed society, and the politics and danger involved in that endeavor, and that sounds like an epic book to read! I can’t wait to give it a try!

Read the first book? Or perhaps you enjoy jumping into books mid-series? Make sure to pick up your copy of Death to the Undead!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

TBR Spotlight: Faults — by Tudor Robins

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Faults (Island Series, #4)

Author: Tudor Robins

Genre/Pages: Equestrian Fiction / 260

Summary: “Giving up her pony didn’t make Austen’s sister better. Sacrificing her social life hasn’t done it either. But with her sister’s life at stake, Austen’s never good at saying no. So, when their mom decides a move to the island is just what Eliot needs, Austen says good-bye to her perfect summer plans.

Rand’s not on the island by choice, either. After drinking, driving, and crashing his neighbour’s car, he’s been sent to live with his uncle until a spot opens up for him at boarding school.

If too-nice Austen, and too-much-trouble Rand are opposites maybe that’s why they’re so attracted to each other.

New characters mix with familiar faces – not to mention plenty of horses and dogs – in this fourth book of the much-loved Island Series.”

Cover Review: Say what??? I can’t make heads or tails out of this cover… Cuz there aren’t any on it. It’s just weird… I mean, I’ve given baths to hundreds of horses, and I like to take artsy photos… But I would never take this shot and think “this should be on the cover of a book”. It doesn’t work. At all. 

Why I put it on my TBR list: I love this series. Like, a lot. It’s my happy series. It’s what I read when I’m sad. It’s like the Heartland TV series, except books… and completely different stories. But still. I love Tudor Robins, and I love her writing! I am so so SO excited to read this one when I get back from my mission and I cannot wait to see what more Tudor has in store for us!

Tudor restored my faith in equestrian fiction when I thought that there could be no more good ones. Then I found these books and they are so beyond perfect I can’t even. 

Are you a fan of the Island Series? Do you love horses? Make sure to go buy your copy of Faults!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.