Author Mark Lawrence has come up with a brilliant idea for self-published authors.
I realise that [self-promotion] is a lot easier once you’re ‘off the ground’ and that as a new author, particularly a self-published one, it is desperately hard to be heard. It’s a signal-to-noise problem. Who knows how many Name of the Winds or [fill in your favourite] are lost to us because they just couldn’t be seen? None? A hundred?
The idea is that a team of bloggers volunteers their time to become temporary pseudo-agents for self-published fantasy authors. They receive a batch of submitted novels and go through them to see which ones they would put forward for publication, if the choice was down to them.
As agents the bloggers will look at the submissions before them. Many they may abandon on the first page as rubbish. Many others may be set aside after a chapter or two. A small subset, perhaps 1 or 3 or 5 will be read all the way through.
They pick the best of the batch and review it (and are free to review any others they receive along the way), and then the best-of-batch novels are passed around to all bloggers on the team. They all read the chosen best and assign a score, and the highest score receives the honour of being, well, the best book out of a batch of 250. And gets to be reviewed by 10 bloggers, which is honestly pretty good publicity for self-pubbed novels, since many languish unseen and unread. Most book bloggers, unless they make a specific point of reviewing self-published novels, tend not to accept and review them.
There’s an idea that self-published novels have lower quality than novels published in a more traditional way. Fewer hurdles to leap over, and so fewer chances that someone will say, “Turn back, because this just isn’t good enough.” And to be honest, there are a lot of self-published novels out there that aren’t that great, that probably should have seen more time with an editor, that, in my opinion, aren’t good enough to be considered.
Then again, I can say the same thing of some novels that have been picked up by traditional publishers. And I know that there are some real gems out there, novels that were self-published for any one of a dozen or more reasons, and being self-published isn’t an indicator of their quality. But they do get tarred with that “lower quality” brush right off the bat a lot of the time.
Anyway, I submitted my name for consideration on the blogger team, and by some stroke of luck, I was considered “highly-respected” and “well-established” enough to get a spot, for which I’m both amazed and thrilled! Especially considering some of the others on the team, who are way more established and well-known than I think I am, so I’m taking this as quite an honour.
So soon it’ll be my chance to get my hands on 25 self-published books for me to consider promoting. And Mark Lawrence is right; undoubtedly there’ll be some that fall flat with me after a few pages. Some won’t be able to keep my attention after a few chapters. They won’t make it past the first round, and unless I finish a book, I don’t review it, so those books won’t even get publicity from me. It’s a crapshoot these authors are taking, and there are no guarantees. Out of 250 books, a guaranteed 10 will get reviews, which is 4% of the batch. There’s a 96% chance that any submissions won’t make it to the final round. Anything I finish I will review, regardless of whether I choose it to go on to the final judging, so there’s more than just a 4% chance of some publicity, but the odds are still long.
And less than half a percent chance of being chosen as the ultimate final winner.
But I don’t want that to be discouraging, because there’s still a chance, and this is an opportunity for potential publicity that many authors might not typically get. Imagine being chosen to be in that final batch of 10. Imagine knowing that you’re going to get a review on 10 blogs that have thousands of hits each month, that thousands of people will hear good things about your novel and why they should go buy it right now. And knowing that all you have to do is send an email, and then sit back while we do the rest.
I’m really excited about this. I’m always on the lookout for new good books, and I love being able to tell people about the things I love and why I think others should love it too. I love knowing that not only might I be able to help people become aware of some awesome novels they may not otherwise discover, but that I might be able to help an author who has put in a load of effort for their work and may only be lacking the publicity before their novel takes off and soars. I love knowing that this will enable me to find new authors to follow and new books to read and that I’m in some damn good company while I do it.
There’s still time to submit your novel, by the way, if you’re a self-published author reading this post. Hop on over to Mark Lawrence’s blog and send him an email and we’ll see what we can do for you. Best of luck to everyone!