2018 Year In Review

Wow…the year is finally coming to a close. I’m like a lot of you where I feel like this year has gone on FOREVER. I’m glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to 2019. Before I gaze into the future though I want to take a few minutes to look back at what’s happened with me and the blog this year.

Let me start by saying I’m disappointed in what I was able and not able to do with the blog this year, specifically in terms of reviews. I just didn’t finish as many reviews as I would have liked. I’m not surprised given how busy I’ve been, but I’m still disappointed. You’ve probably seen me post about it a bunch, but early on this year I got bogged down with work and family commitments which meant I didn’t have as much time to devote to reviews. Then things got better for about a month or so before work reared it’s ugly head again and I was asked to study toward taking a professional certification exam. That meant the last few months of the year I was focused more on studying an prepping for the exam than I was on writing reviews.

Well…I took the exam today and HOLY MOTHER FORKING SHIRT BALLS I PASSED!

HMFSB

OK y’all here’s the deal on that exam. It has only a 57% pass rate. I was certain I wasn’t going to pass. And after work had paid for the prep course and the cost of the exam (over $2,000.00 combined) I was starting to feel really bad about going in to work on Wednesday. Now there’s a huge weight off my shoulders AND I can hopefully start giving more time to the blog (knocks on wood).

Now…On to what’s important. At the beginning of the year I posted my 2018 Reading Goals. They were as follows:

  • Read more debut novels
  • Read more short stories
  • Read more non-western fiction
  • Read more diverse authors
  • Read more award winners

So how did I do? Well, I think I did OK but not great. Here’s how all that worked out.

Debut Novels

If my count is right I read ten debut novels. My original intent behind this one was debuts in 2018. I wanted to read and review at least one 2018 debut a month. THAT didn’t happen. I ended up reading some debuts that actually came out in previous years (based on a comment and request from William Ray to read his debut Gedlund, and I definitely didn’t review them all. But in the end given everything that happened I was pleased with the reading I accomplished if not the reviews I didn’t write.

Short Stories

Oh man…I didn’t do well with this one. My intent here was to read more collections of short stories and maybe add a subscription to one or more sci-fi/fantasy magazines. I only read one collection (The Art of War – which I haven’t reviewed yet) and a couple of issues of Apex Magazine. The blame for this is entirely with me as I just didn’t make myself do it. I did end up reading a couple of really great stories from Apex which I posted about in my Best Reads of 2018.

Non-western fiction

Hmm…I didn’t do too hot with this one either. I really only read two books that fit this category, The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso. I enjoyed both of these books, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro made it onto my best of list this year. I also read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor which is really a novella but figure I should add it to my list. If I’m honest with myself though I had hoped to add a lot more.

More diverse authors

Though related to the previous category I suppose I did slightly better on this one given the number of female authors I read. If I’m counting right I think I read 11 female authors, two African or African-America authors, and two Asian authors. So…better than the non-western category but again not as good as I’d hoped.

Award Winners

I’ll be honest, I just decided not to care about this category. At first I wanted to read multiple books that won Hugo, Nebula, Norton, Arthur C. Clark, BSFA, Locus, etc. awards. I did manage a few like Dune, The Forever War, Ancillary Justice, and Binti, but in the end I quit caring. I say that because as I’ve watched the award nominations the past couple of years I keep seeing they are filled with books that while good, don’t reflect what I see other bloggers and reviewers enjoying and talking endlessly about. I also don’t see much of anything regarding self-published or indie books with the exception of #SPFBO. That isn’t to say the winners are not deserving, I just feel like there is a certain kind of book that gets nominated and that many other books which ought to be nominated are not.

 

Mid Year Goals

So that’s how things fell out with my original goals. Part way through the year I added another goal…reading more self-published fantasy. This came about after receiving some early review requests and winning a free copy of another self-pub book. I discovered that I had been missing out on a ton of great books and authors because I had a bias against books not published through a big name publisher. You can read about that realization in my The 2018 #SPFBO (And Maybe A Self-Pub Fantasy Month) post.

Long story short I decided to read more self-pub and indie books and I have not regretted it one bit. I managed eight books in this category. Four of them making it onto by best of reads for the year.

SelfPubFantasyMonth

I also decided to take things one step further and hosted a Self-Published Fantasy Month here on the blog in September. I was super excited about this event and it started with a bang…then ended with a whimper due to that pesky exam I had to start studying for.

What I find fascinating about all this self-pub stuff is that out of all my posts this year it was those related to self-published fantasy that got the most hits.

Now the number of hits on these posts could be in part due to the number of self-pub authors who follow me on twitter sure, but I have to think a lot of it has to do with readers interest. Almost all of the bloggers I follow and those who follow me have at least some interest in self-pub fantasy. It’s a growing segment of the industry and there’s some really great stuff being published. That Gedlund post had 28% more hits than the second highest review which was for Bloody Rose. That’s impressive. And William Ray if you’re reading this I hope that generated some sales!

In addition to all that I also managed some other cool things this year.

  • The blog turned one year old
  • I received my first review requests from both authors and publicists
  • I was granted my first ARC requests from publishers and Net Galley
  • I was asked to Beta Read a YA Steampunk novel which I can’t say more about just yet

And finally, perhaps my favorite aspect of blogging (and book twitter) this year has been getting to know so many great people who love all the books. Authors, bloggers, and just good old book lovers, you’ve all made this a great year in terms of the community we all share online. Whether raving about books and authors, talking about events, or just joking about all the little things in our lives it’s been wonderful getting to know all of you. You mean a lot more to me than you know.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope all of you have a great new year and a safe and fun New Year’s Eve. I’ll try to post a list of 2019 goals in the next few days. Till then happy reading!

 

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13 thoughts on “2018 Year In Review

  1. Wow, congrats on passing your test, that’s huge! And it must be a relief. Hope you can enjoy the rest of New Year’s, and I look forward to continuing to enjoy your posts and reviews next year:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay, congrats on passing the exam! I hope your 2019 doesn’t have more of this coming 😉 And looks like you did pretty good with your challenges if you ask me! And as long as your reading is fun, it doesn’t really matter anyways 😉
    I’ve heard a lot of good things about ‘Gedlund’ – time to get a sample I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A big Congratulations on your test results, such fantastic news.
    It’s been an absolute pleasure reading your posts, they have gotten me right into self published books. I have quite a few of them sitting on my kindle waiting for me to get to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: 2019 Reading And Blogging Goals | Off The TBR

  5. Congrats once again on passing your test!! I’m also super glad we connected. You’re such a gem in the community, I love reading your reviews and you’re just a generally wonderful person to talk to. Excited to see where 2019 takes you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I will definitely have to remember that! We just drove through Kentucky in October to visit my Grandma in NC, so next time we head that way, I’ll definitely let you know! They are a little bit, but I know it’s only the calm for the storm. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

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