Keeping Track

This is the final part of a Series
Part 1: Ménages Categorized
Part 2: How can MMF be romantic?
Part 3: How To Read Your First MMF Romance
Part 4: Where To Find Your MMF Romances
Part 5: Narrow Down Your List of Potential MMF Novels
Part 6: Keeping Track
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Even as you seach for your first MMF romance to read, you’ll be generating a lot of information to keep track of, because a centralized database of decent MMF romances in your preferred genre doesn’t exist.

Raw MMF Romance Titles

There’s the raw lists of potential MMF romances you have yet to research, if you didn’t finish researching the first time around.

I guarantee this list will get added to as you hear of titles along the way from reviewers, bloggers, other readers, and on Amazon discussion lists.

 Must-Have’s

You’ll also eventually end up with a list of must-have’s.  These are books you’ve researched, or don’t need to, but haven’t yet acquired.

List of to-be-reads

This list is almost exactly the same as the Must-Have’s list, except that these books you have already acquired.  You’re just shifting the books from one list to the other.  You can even combine the two and add an extra field that indicates you now own the book.

 List Of Have-Reads

After you have finished reading the book, it’s a good idea to quickly capture your impressions about that book, including:

  • Your overall enjoyment of the book
  • How much MM action (romance and sex) was in the book
  • How much general romance was in the book
  • How much other story was in the book (as opposed to sex and romance)
  • Was the book true to your sub-genre (e.g., was it really a paranormal, or just a sex romp wearing a cape?)
  • Was the sex hot enough for you?

Most of these answers are one digit or one word answers, that you should scribble down quickly as soon as you’ve read the book.  It doesn’t have to be scientific, count-the-pages stuff.  Work out your own rating system, and go with your gut.  How much MM stuff?  Mmm, make that 4 out of 10, if 10 is all the sex and romance in the entire book.  And so on.

Don’t rate only the books you like.

You should most especially reate the books that you consider duds, or not so fabulous, or that there was just something…off.  In this way, you’ll begin to figure out what works for you, personally, and what doesn’t, plus you’ll be able to guide other MMF romance fans if they ever ask you for recommendations.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts in this series, this information will aid you in finding more MMF romances that suit your tastes.  If the book was just perfect, you can head right over to that author’s back list, and quickly snatch up the rest of the series, and any other series she has written that looks intriguing (but do some research on any new series the same as you would for new titles – things can change between series, publishers, and as the author learns her craft.)

If the book wasn’t quite right for you, you can still mine her backlist to see if there’s something better.  Again, things can change between series, publishers and as the authors learns her craft and tries different things.  If this book didn’t do it for you, the perfect book or series might be lurking in her backlist.

If the book was awful, don’t completely give up on the author — yet.  Go back to the Amazon page for the book and read the one and two star reader reviews for the book and see if they agree with you on what was awful about the book.

Sometimes, reader have astonishing information to give about a book and its author that will show you why it was such a stinker:  The book was dashed off in three days to get the author out of contractual obligations; everyone knows the author hated writing that book, her others are much better; and so on.  Granted, this information perhaps should have surfaced when you were first researching, but you were looking for positive, go-for-it messages then.

Even if you don’t find a good excuse for the stinker book, still don’t drop the author.  Mine her back list for just one more possibility and try it.  After all, you picked her for more than one good reason.  Give her a second chance.  But not a third.

If her second title still fails to impress, then reluctantly let her go and cross that author off your list of regulars.

How to keep your information

Three choices stand out among many, mainly because of ease of use, and they’re free.

Spreadsheets

The easiest and quickest to set up are Excel or Word spreadsheets.

They’re also the most labour intensive, because they’re 100% manual, mechanical work.  There is no automation.

Still, they will keep every list you need to make, in the form you want to keep it.  If you already own Microsoft Office, they’re free.  Or you can use the Open Office alternative, instead, which is free to download and use, or Google Documents, if you would like to keep your lists on-line.

Goodreads

Goodreads, and other social networks for book lovers, is a great way to keep track of either paperback or ebooks you intend to or already own, and/or have already read.  The only limitation is that you can’t add custom fields to your reviews and ratings such as the ones I suggest.  So I would suggest using these sites only as wanna buy/to-be-read tools, in combination with either spreadsheets, or

Calibre

Calibre is the master ebook library manager for ebook lovers.  It will manage ebooks across multiple devices, and just like iTunes controls music files, it sorts your books on your hard drive for you, if you want it to.  It displays full book information, including the cover, back cover blurb, and with the click of a button, the inside contents.  If any information is missing (publishing date, publisher, blurb, cover and much, much more), Calibre will go off and get it for you.

With a single click of a button, you can convert and download your book to your favourite reading device, and you can see at a glance what books you already have loaded.  You can also delete book on your ereader from inside Calibre.  Calibre works in conjuction with Amazon, so you can get an average Amazon reader rating right from inside Calibre.

And no, I don’t get any commission for talking up Calibre.  Calibre is free!  I first started using Calibre four years ago when the software that came with my first dedicated ebook reader was so woefully inadequate I went looking for better.  I found Calibre, and have been using it ever since for every ebook reading device I own, even though that ebook reader has long since bit the dust.

And the beauty of Calibre is that it is also tailorable.  You can add your own user fields, hide standard fields from view, arrange fields in the order you want them to display, so that you end up with a customized view that is exactly what you need to pick through your full library of ebooks.

Could you use Calibre with paperbacks?  It would be difficult.  Calibre “imports” actual ebook files into its system – it’s a true manager, not simply an index.

There’s a teeny learning curve to the program, but there is also a full support discussion board on the program’s download site, so you’re not alone, if you’re not technically oriented.

If you’re not fully convinced by my raving about Calibre, head over to the site and sit through the 60 second demo video on the front page.  That was what sold me!

Finally, Pay It Forward

Once you’ve finished a book, you should help make MMF Romances a bit more accessible for all romance lovers, by adding your opinion about the book to the on-line world for others to find.  It may feel to you that no one is listening and cares less, but if you’re using those reviews to make a decision, you can be damned sure hundreds of others are, too.

This is something that I have learned from blogging.  I get no comments, no feedback at all, day in and day out, but my statistics tell me that hundreds of romance readers are reading my posts every day.  The odd comment I get is the tiny tip of a large iceberg.

So yes, what you say will be taken onboard by very many others, even if you never get to hear them say so.

Pay it forward by leaving your review and rating on Amazon, at least (because that’s where nearly everyone looks).

If you’re keeping any of your lists on Goodread, et al, then it will be pretty easy to add a simple rating and a few words about the book, once you’re read it.  If you’ve already done your Amazon review, you can cut and paste.  Many do.

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 This is the last post in this series on easing yourself into MMF Romance.  I hope you enjoy your new world of MMF Romance and the wonderful stories you’ll discover there!

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More resources:

My MMF Romances

Additional Articles:

The MMF Thing…How to Get It

MM and MMF – Let’s Try Again. Why Do Women Like Men Who Like Men?

Do Women Like MMF?

The Heroes in MMF Romance Don’t Need Classification

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