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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Points to a Publisher

January 14th 2015

Just a few points, (owner of Publishing House), from a man who has been part of your social media group as an author, been rejected, and has nothing to gain or lose from giving his opinion. 

The idea of a social media website for readers to read books and choose those to publish is a noble one. I commend you for taking such a risk. The problem remains at this time that you simply have too few book reviews to honestly determine the viability of any one book.

Before you pulled my work from your site it had two official reviews and two ‘unofficial reviews’ as your fellow (Publisher Employee) described the comments. I, the author, am left with some sparse ideas on how to improve my work, and that quashes any means of my returning to your company to publish a new draft.

Now some authors will be unhappy with anything but publication, but some of us will be happy with a better understanding of our work. You want authors to send you new drafts. You want them to feel like they are better for experiencing how you do business. The last thing you want is for an author to go to another company and then do well, because that means you missed out on a profitable contract.

One idea, and maybe not a great one, would be to recruit unpaid college interns to review books. English students often have an internship requirement for graduation, they know something about books, and would be happy to telecommute.  These interns would be required to read the whole book and write a solid and professional review.

What this would do for your community would be to increase the number and quality of your reviews. It would also get the word out to perspective authors in English writing communities and bring more reading enthusiasts to your company. 

Another idea would be to add a step to publication. This would be a ‘would you like to read more’ section like your first fifteen forum. Both unofficial reviews of my book and one of the official ones read only a small part near the beginning.  Unfortunately, there were too few reviews to see a consistent pattern of what was wrong.

If I were to take this small section and place it on your site with a simple thumb up thumb down review and a minimum of ten reviews a pattern should start to emerge by that point. Then I would be able to say what was wrong with my work with some confidence.  In fifteen to thirty pages an author will express stylistic choices and in those pages a reader can find and mention what they dislike. Too many thumbs down will mean rewrite and resubmit, enough thumbs up will mean that the rest of the manuscript will be posted.

What this could do for your community would be to increase the number of reviews and interaction with authors. It would save time with books that just need more work, and give the author a path to come back.

One thing you may wish to think about is to put ads on your site. If you need to pay for it then it can do some paying for itself. You’re already involved in advertising on your site when you send out group requests for published books. If you’re going to advertise for your own company then you can advertise for other companies and offset the cost of operations.

Another point, I believe an author interacting with reviewers is a good thing, but I believe an author shouldn’t review when his work is up for review. It will always be in the back of my mind that (Publisher Employee) gave me a hard time, because I gave him a negative review. This probably isn’t true. He just gave me an honest review, and I’m unhappy with what he said, but that thought will stay with me. You may want to think about having author accounts that expire if a book isn’t picked up and reader accounts that expire after they have been inactive for long enough.

Finally, a rejection letter thanking the author for their interest, apologizing for their rejection, and summarizing how they can improve their work would only be polite. The author is a customer just like someone who buys a book and the service you provide them is to screen their work for profitability. I would never want my book published if it wouldn’t do well, so you’re providing a superior service compared to competitors. A letter making it clear to the author that there is hope would go a long way to clarifying that fact.

Those are my two cents. Forty nine more of these and you have a dollar.


Richard Leland Neal

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