My two biggest goals this year were to get my financial life in order (I have a list of specific goals around that, but they basically amount to increasing my income, raising my credit score, upping my savings and amping up my retirement account) and to get pregnant. So far I've had zero luck on the latter, though I haven't given up, and am working diligently on the former. Five years ago, in October 2011, I was laid off from my full time magazine editing job and I really had no idea what I was going to do. My forays into the job market yielded nothing and that was depressing and demoralizing and I quickly realized I needed to simply adapt and rather than look for another full time job, I had to hustle as hard as I could.
That worked for a while, and last year was a good year financially, but it also came at a cost; I researched an article for a print magazine I'd dreamt of breaking into while on vacation in Thailand. I worked many odd hours and always felt like I was scrambling to read every last news item to see if I could pitch a story on it. So this year, when things got rocky in my little freelance world, I reached out to people I love and trust and told them I was looking for work, and lo and behold, I got part-time jobs writing for OMJ (Oh. My. Jersey.) and doing copywriting. Both have amounted to pretty much a full time job, and I still pour my heart and soul into editing and promoting my anthologies, teach my online erotica writing class at LitReactor, do occasional freelance writing and consult with writers about erotica. At the end of this year I will be formally assessing what's working and what's not so I can figure out my next steps.
But since this year has mostly gone well and seems to be on the upswing, I wanted to take a small amount of the money I've earned and find ways to both give back and spread the word about my books. I pour most of any extra income that doesn't go to bills or debt or savings back into promoting the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series, and that's paid off in the sense that I'm about to sign a contract to edit a fourth volume. That means I can plan and grow the series and really think strategically about what my goals are for it.
Additionally, I also plan to make an end of year donation to one of my favorite nonprofits, the New Jersey based Bridge of Books Foundation, which provides books to children in need. I used to volunteer helping sort books for them when I lived in Red Bank, and miss that experience but am so glad they are out there helping kids get their hands on books.
So while I'm still in the midst of really getting a handle on my money, when I have had a surplus due to especially good months, I've been looking for ways to give back, and two of those have been by supporting the sex positive community. I just backed my first Patreon, for the UK based publisher Sexy Little Pages. I've really enjoyed the books of theirs I've read, especially their tattoo erotica anthology Inked, and think it's wonderful for the genre to have new publishers, new voices, new ways of drawing in readers and new outlets for authors. I encourage my students to check out their calls for submissions and am always thrilled when one of them gets an acceptance.
The bottom line is, publishing is a business, and I believe we all have to support each other. This may be with money, by buying books or backing a Patreon like this, or by reviewing books on Goodreads, Amazon, your blogs, etc., by asking your library to buy an author or publisher's books, etc. There are really an infinite number of ways you can support the publishers and authors you love and want to see stay in business. I find that when a publisher closes, there's a lot of disappointment, but I think we then all need to ask ourselves, what were we doing to support them? So I wanted to use the blessing and gratefulness for what's been a good year so far to support a publisher I think is doing great things, and I encourage you to as well. If you back them for $3 a month, you even get a link on their site, so there's something in it for you too.
I have heard wonderful things from participants in the Sex Down South conference in Atlanta. I wasn't able to attend this year but I wanted to both support them and reach out to a community I think would enjoy my books, so the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series is now a sponsor of the conference. It's really an honor for me to be able to do this, and while large sums would have been out of my reach, theirs were very reasonable. So if you're in or near Atlanta, I encourage you to attend the conference this weekend and think about submitting to speak next year! Their lineup covers a wide range of topics, they bring in fascinating speakers and it looks like a wonderful event that I do hope I can experience for myself at some point.