Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Holy Grail

It used to be that finding an agent was the way to get your book published. Some publishers were prepared to accept unsolicited manuscripts but many weren't. I can't remember how many letters and first chapters I sent out full of hope only to get a rejection by return of post, or months later or over a year later in two cases. Did I ever get close? No, not really. Most letters I had were form rejections no matter how 'sympathetically or supportively' they were worded.
Then came the advent of digital publishing and the world changed. I redefined the genre I was prepared to write and was able to submit direct to publishers. Getting an agent lost its importance.
I still toyed with the dream for a while but I've long since given up on that and in fact, it's been overtaken by a new Holy Grail - the problem of getting reviews.
My publishers have a list of sites they submit to, but no certainty of getting your book reviewed. I can send to some sites on my own and I have done - and I'm shocked how many don't even bother to answer - even to say - no thanks. It seems many review sites have become reincarnations of the agents I used to approach.
It's a hard world out there. Word of mouth is the best way to get your book into people's lives and reviews drive that process. I'm told reviews on Amazon count the most which is more than a pity for me. My best seller Strangers - has 88 reviews on Amazon - massively more than any other of my books, but thousands of reviews on Goodreads. Ah, if only I could fix that. But I can't. All I can do is keep contacting review sites to ask for reviews. But I'm one of so many now, I'm probably buried in a different sort of slush pile. Things really haven't changed.
If anyone has any advice, please share it!!!
And because I like the cover of my book coming out in November - here it is!!!


Arlene said...

Asking review sites to take a look is prehaps worse than soliciting an agent. Anyone, any troll can start a review site. At least an agent gets a percentage of profits so they have more motive to be professional within the writing community. Awhile back I saw where a reviewer with a blog soliciting for novels in the Young Adult genre put one stars on Goodreads for a number of erotic romance authors.
And what's with all the authors paying for reviews? It really is a jungle/shark invested pool out there for everyone. I sure dont have any answers. I'm just glad you dont spend too much time worrying about it and wow, I love that cover, too.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Thanks, Arlene. I can only see the situation getting worse and not better.

Fred said...

I don't understand the dynamics behind reviews. It's all voodoo to me. I think it takes some odd dam to burst, and once it goes, the reviews pour in with a life of their own. But the secret to busting the dam isn't written down anywhere. It looks easy from afar, but when you get to the dam, it's solid concrete, and all you have is your bare hands. I know that sounds stupid, but that's how it appears in my head.

Barbara Elsborg said...

I actually think there is an advantage in getting reviews if you are self-published but it take a lot of effort. You have endless copies that you can distribute to blogs, readers etc By a law of averages, some have to stick! But if you are traditionally published, you can only send a limited number of copies out yourself and have to rely on the publishers contacting the bigger sites. I sometimes despair when I see the small number of reviews I have on Amazon and the much larger number on Goodreads. Amazon is the driver - that's where reviews really count. Maybe now they have bought Goodreads, something will change.