The idea is that if a book is good enough, it will rise to the top. One of the major criticisms of allowing self-publishing on sites like Amazon, Smashwords, Wattpad, Scribd etc is that it will create a ‘glut’ of low quality work, which disappoints consumers, gives self-published authors a bad name and generally muddies the competitive waters because consumers can’t find quality amongst the masses of mediocrity.
One of my friends has a Kindle and she mentioned to me that she had just read two books by the same author that she found in the Amazon Kindle store. Having liked the first one, she bought the second. Both were priced around $9, which is relatively expensive for an eBook. It wasn’t until she finished the second book that she realised the author was a self-published author. I asked her if she had any hint of that while she was reading and she said she had no idea. This is a great thing. It means that the work was high quality, well edited and professionally formatted, so my friend, who is a keen consumer of books, didn’t notice any difference.
My first book, Times of Trouble, could definitely benefit from some professional editing. I had the manuscript assessed, but I never had the funds to invest in a professional editor. I have decided, however, that my second book, Conspire, will be professionally edited. I was thrilled with the reviews I received for Times of Trouble, but I did get one on Goodreads that said:
“I enjoyed this; a good plot with twists and turns; a somewhat naive style. Would benefit from a bit mor (sic) proof reading.”
The reader took the time to read the entire book, and seemed to enjoy it, but he is right about the proof reading. A truly professional book should be edited by a professional.
On the subject of Times of Trouble and Goodreads, there is another thing I would have done differently had I known what I do know when I finished that book. Remember, I decided to self-publish Times of Trouble after a few harrowing rejections from agents and publishers. My main motivation in posting the manuscript on WattPad, Free-eBooks and Smashwords was to get something that all new authors crave, like humans crave oxygen – Feedback! I just wanted an honest opinion about whether it was a good book! I thought it was good, my friends and family liked it, but none of us count. This is something worth remembering – your book is never going to take off with ‘reviews’, ‘likes’ and ‘five stars’ from friends and family only. It’s a nice way to get the ball rolling, but to gain real credibility and to stand out from the masses, you need genuine excitement amongst real consumers. You need people to recommend the book to their friends. You need the big wide world to notice your work.
I got what I asked for in posting the book online. A free book is obviously very easy to download, and I managed to get literally thousands of downloads across these sites. But I also got the feedback I craved, and it was very good feedback. (5 stars on all the reviews on Smashwords!). My mistake was, however, that I didn’t focus this feedback in one place. There are a few reviews on each of the sites I posted my work, but if I had just concentrated on one site, I could have up to 20 reviews, which is much more likely to be noticed by consumers looking for something good to read. I am definitely keeping this in mind for Conspire.
Looping back to the start of this post – the crème does rise to the top. But you need to pave a way for it to bypass the glut. To start out with, don’t fragment your efforts, as you divide the effectiveness of each of those sites in selling your work to the world. Once you have success on one site, it’s fine to move onto the next. But as I mentioned in a previous post, success breeds success. And the first round of success is by far the hardest to build.
I’m getting back to work now. I’ve got to make sure Conspire is the best I can possibly make it, or it definitely won’t be rising to the top.