Review: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

I was skeptical how good this book might be because one of its coauthors, Kimberly Jones, had a video about racism and social contracts that went pretty viral after the death of George Floyd. Part of me thought this book’s popularity was hype surrounding that.

I was 300% wrong.

This book had me turning the pages as fast as I could from cover to cover. I finished it in 3 hours. While juggling 3 children under 3 years old. There are very few things I can accomplish quite to this degree, but I made this happen because the book was THAT GOOD.

The book follows two highschool girls, Lena and Campbell, through a night that began as a normal highschool football game, and became a nightmare of protests and violence.  Along their journey, they discover their concepts of race aren’t as black and white as they thought.  And of course, they’re two girls in highschool, so amidst all of the chaos, there’s a very realistic naivete about priorities and expectations that are continuously challenged throughout the book.

The vernacular is on point, both in dialogue interactions and the headspace of these girls.  It made me feel like I was really there experiencing all of this with them.  The descriptions are excellent, the pace is fast and engaging, and it’s funny.  Despite the mature themes of this book, the two girls’ interactions, both when they work together and when they clash, are funny.  I don’t remember a time when I felt like laughing and taking to the streets for justice at the same time.  Usually those two don’t mix, but the combination here would not let me put this book down for a second.

I highly recommend reading this book.  You will laugh, get angry, maybe cry, and your beliefs about race will definitely be challenged as you immerse yourself in the headspace of these two girls, one black, one white.  It’s a must read.

It can be ordered from Amazon here. 

 

 

Revisiting Inkitt

Inkitt, the online publishing platform where authors can upload their book and get readers, reviews, and feedback for free! Inkitt might even offer you a publishing deal if it looks like it has best seller potential–based off of reader analytics collected every time your readers click on your book.

It sounds amazing. So how is it in practice?

A number of months ago I uploaded the first three chapters of my book, Isle of Elandia, to Inkitt to try it out.  I was able to create a synopsis, book cover, the works with their tools.  It looked very professional. 

Additionally, the online community they have is very interactive, and the site is easy to maneuver, and I was able to “review swap” with several readers and got two 5 star reviews. 

I ran into a couple of issues with Inkitt though.

The first was that I couldn’t find my book with their search tool.  After scrolling through pages and pages and pages of fantasy submissions, I could not find my book.  After typing it in by name, I still couldn’t find my book. I could, however, send a direct link to anyone from the author management page.  Inkitt’s search tool–even typing in the exact title–just would not produce my book.  BIG problem and seriously frustrating.  This tells me that the only books people are seeing on Inkitt’s site are the ones being spammed out by their authors so much that they bounce into that most popular bracket and end up on the front page.

Now, as a writer with a separate career and kids, I don’t have time to be glued to Inkitt’s community page review swapping forever until I get enough reads that a random person perusing the site will be able to find it.  And neither do a TON of other authors, so if you’re hoping to post your book on Inkitt to be read by millions of readers and become a bestseller by its own merit, you will be disappointed. You will have to put work in to bring awareness to it.

One plus Inkitt offers its authors is the analytics it captures, which reveals some important information.  Firstly, that my chapters are too long.  I currently have 95 reads of my book, according to Inkitt’s analytics. This is how many times someone clicked on it, so it doesn’t really mean that they read it.

The “binge rate”, aka, how many times readers continued on to the next chapter, just drops off after chapter 2.  In fact, only one person who started on chapter 1 continued through to chapter 3.  This could either mean that my book is terrible, or, taking into consideration other factors like chapter length, maybe they’re just too long.  Based off of the two reviews I have received on Inkitt, and the feedback from my critique group on the first 5 chapters of my book, I am pretty confident that my book is engaging enough to continue reading, so I think chapter length is a large part of this problem.

Another thing Inkitt also provides (I don’t remember them doing this when I started) are “tips and hints” in the draft area of your book.  One such tip is “books with chapter lengths that are 1000-1500 words have a significantly higher binge rate.”  Which makes sense.  If I’m sitting at my computer, I’m likely not on here just to read books, I’m likely doing 10 other things and am just taking a quick break, like a ton of readers on Inkitt. 

A 4000-5000 word chapter is just way too much to commit to in this day and age, and online reading platforms are a bit challenging to bookmark when you need to stop, unlike printed paperback books.

Another cool thing that the analytics reveal is that since January 2020, I’ve had an increase of 36 reads of my book, after having 0 for almost a year.  Why?  My guess, COVID-19 is pushing everyone to seek online entertainment. 

So!  I decided to do some revamping.  Luckily, each scene is about 1500 words, so I’ve split up my chapters into scenes to fit the suggested length, added more content, and updated my synopsis to see how much interest I get.  Hopefully, my “binge rate” will increase.

There are still some analytics that are not populating for my novel, and Inkitt’s help icon states that not enough data has been collected yet.  It also doesn’t tell me how much data needs to be collected, nor what it’s going to tell me, which would be nice to know. But I guess I’ll find out eventually whenever enough data is collected.

If you’re curious about Inkitt or my book, you can access it directly by clicking here Isle of Elandia and explore the platform further. And if you like, leave me a review!

Have you used Inkitt? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Happy Writing!

Dialogue Tags and Reading Culture

The greatest literary works are drowning in dialogue tags, but a lot of authors today are ditching them where ever they can. Why? Shouldn’t we follow the example of the greats?

It depends.

To really understand why this norm has changed, you really need to understand the changing culture of reading as a pasttime.

Books written during the literary classic time, such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, even JRR Tolkien were often read aloud as a communal past time, making dialogue tags essential for the audience to understand who is speaking in the story. It would be virtually impossible to follow along otherwise, unless the reader was a spot on voice actor.

Now it’s a lot different. With the rise of TV, internet, and video games, reading a book as a group pasttime is a thing of the past. Books are now usually read quietly and alone, which make dialogue tags cumbersome and annoying to the reader when the context explains itself.

Many children’s stories are meant to be read aloud, and younger minds may be challenged to understand how certain written phrases inherently follow a pattern of character interaction. So if you’re a children’s book author, lots of dialogue tags will likely still be an absolute must to include.

For young adult and adult books, however, consider carefully where you use them. If the context makes it clear which character is speaking already, maybe consider leaving them out to keep the story moving at an engaging pace.

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