If it looks like a traditionally published book, is formatted like a traditionally published book and reads like a traditionally published book, then why not treat it like a traditionally published book?
I’ve had this post on my mind for a month or so and then bumped into this (excellent) post – It Isn’t (Always) Personal: a Bloggers Take on Not Accepting Self-Published Books – by Kate Tilton which prompted me into action.
As a self-published author, when you’re out there on the internet scouting for book bloggers to review your book you come up against a lot of ‘we don’t accept self-published authors‘. Fine. It’s their blog and I’ve no God given right to be accepted by anyone.
The reasons Kate gives in her article of why (some) book bloggers don’t accept self-published authors are; quantity, quality and professionalism.
I understand all these, especially quality. I remember reading the first chapter of a story on one of those publisher backed platforms, the ‘author’ had managed to describe a woman’s rack as bouncing up and down via the metaphor of being on a trampoline 3 times in the first chapter alone. I never went back. I can only imagine the dire shite some reviewers have had to go through before they finally shut up shop to self-published authors for good.
Quantity could be tamed by stipulating certain milestones such as number of reviews (which BookBub does).
Professionalism may be let down by self-publishers but it’s not their exclusive domain. I don’t quite agree with the argument Kate makes about traditionally published authors having to answer to their publishers if they step out of line. There’s been a few sock puppet authors out there behaving badly who should know better due to their full-time writing status. People can be dicks on the internet, no question. If any writer is being a dick through blogs, Twitter and elsewhere then I’d hope the news would quickly spread and the appropriate levels of ridicule and ostracisation befitting such a dick would soon ensue.
(Although, check out the example I linked to. That earned him national press across ALL the major outlets and I bet it resulted in an upswing of sales. So, unprofessionalism isn’t always going to hit the bottom line in a negative way).
Is there a happy medium? Is it possible for established book reviewers to read an unsolicited, self-published book?
Last month Buzzfeed asked it’s member ‘Tell us how you write, where you write and what keeps you going and you could be featured in a future BuzzFeed post.‘ so I thought I’d note down a couple of comments.
In the end I got carried away and wrote the following;
I’ve written 3 novels. My routine has evolved so that I prefer to write away from home in a coffee shop. My back has to be against a wall though because I’m paranoid of people looking over the shoulder and laughing. I have a laptop with Internet connection, it’s handy for finding quick answers and rewarding myself with some procrastination after finishing a chapter/page/paragraph/really convoluted metaphor. Make sure your laptop is charged or that you have a plug.
I listen to deep house tunes with little to no lyrics, so I’m in the groove but not distracted. I like to write in the afternoon because of work, lie ins and vegging in the evening.
I don’t set myself a word count. My only goal each day is to sit down and write just one sentence. 99% of the time after you’ve written one sentence the rest just flows. I don’t meticulously plan nor fly by the seat of my pants, I’m a ‘structuralist’. I know the beginning and the end, and I only plan an outline 2 or 3 chapters in advance as I go, this gives me a goal but also the flexibility to change if characters and events are leading me elsewhere. I finish when I’m stuck or when I reach the end of a chapter. Momentum for me is key, I don’t believe in the idea of stopping early so that momentum is carried over to the next day. With me, it’s forgotten.
If you’re stuck, sleep on it, go for a run, a walk, go to work, just step away from your laptop. It’s amazing what gets sorted out when you’re not staring at a blank page. I outline in a paper notebook and take notes, especially at the very beginning. Flesh out ideas, characters, plots, sub plots, themes, try to delve a bit deeper than that initial idea. The notebook comes in handy a year later when you’re fresh out ideas and you’ve only got a handful of chapters to go, sitting there will be a scribbled gem you’d cleanly forgotten about.
Write everyday but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t, life gets in the way. If you do 5 days out of 7, you’re doing alright.
The first draft is key; keep going, keep that momentum going, don’t reflect, judge or critique. You have other drafts to do that. Don’t sweat the small things; names, a wide vocabulary, how to dissolve a body, grammar, etc, all the details can be fixed in subsequent drafts just keep moving! Get the first draft finished. Finishing the first draft of your first novel will change your life forever.
Nothing I wrote got chosen to go in the final article ‘19 Writing Tips To Help You Become The Next J.K. Rowling‘ which may explain why I’m not the next JK Rowling but at least it’s a new blog post for here.