Here’s a rant. One I have often had.

When oh when are Amazon going to address the problem of reviews posted on Amazon.com, NOT appearing on Amazon.co.uk. And vice versa. What, are we British authors/publishers too insignificant for you to realise that many see this as frankly insulting. Not only that, but it upsets YOUR own customers. Why?

Because when someone is kind enough to take the trouble to leave a review on Amazon.co.uk, we the author or publisher then have to beg them to copy it over on the US site with the inconvenience that entails. It’s bad enough with no-one letting us know just what number of reviews it takes to get noticed, let alone this. SORT IT OUT AMAZON. Thank heaven for patient bloggers, they make the world go round!

 

As one currently teetering on the mental precipice that is ‘spreading the word about a new book’, it is difficult to know whether I am blindly leading myself down a dark alley or heading on the road towards the NY Times best seller list. It is certainly a trek of some foreboding.
I’ve read a dozen or so free self-help books and the conclusion so far seems to lead to two camps. Find an agent or a publisher. OR head off into blog land, find kindred spirits, and build up the Amazon and Goodreads reviews. We are all led to believe a certain magic number of reviews or a combination with sales will miraculously prod an Amazon algorithm up its digital backside, triggering an inexorable slide into fame and fortune. But what does one actually need, what are the numbers?
There is precious little hard information out there. Will fifteen reviews do it? It will certainly give you access to some higher review sites. Must it be in the hundreds?
At my average hit rate of one a week you’d better have a second income!
Maybe it’s just a rumour and months of effort on blog searches, and query emails, will be for nothing? Welcome to half my world of – ‘Is this really going to work?’
All will not be lost however. Bloggers are of a type – Generous with their time and helpful suggestions, heartwarmingly so. So should I fail from a sales point of view, I win hands down from the restoration of faith in human nature angle.
Then there is the agent or publisher route. Publishers – ahh here’s one, hmm nice website, they say most of the right things, let’s just see if there is a tiny clause hidden away under the edge of the cyber carpet, giving the game away, that they are actually vanity based. Oftentimes you won’t find that out until an exciting email declaring your novel has indeed found favour with their editors, but there is the teeniest fee for an Isbn, and for the coffee (theirs). Oh and for…
OK, try again – nicer website, they seem as big as one can get without an agent and his connections. Now begins the tedium of cross checking each author against Amazon rankings. They actually exist, good. Published three months ago and ranked at 30k, good, and there’s a paperback. Promising. They even pass the ‘Writer Beware’ website check. Nothing left to do, but fire off a query letter, one perfected over months of self-help hints. Sit back and wait and wait.
And wonder. If I approach several at the same time, will the one to say yes, I am the finest thing since Stephen King, also be the one to object to multiple submissions?
Damned if I do multiple queries, damned if I don’t?
Finally, agents. Feel the fear! I find them through Twitter and the ‘represented by’ mentions of other authors. Check them out, do they have any NY Times best sellers, do they actually have a route into Little Brown, because if they don’t I can get close enough myself.
Next, negotiate the muddy minefield that consists of their query specifications. No two are the same. Hours can melt away as I add the first three chapters (but do they want it attached or at the end of the email?) No, they want 10,000 words? Now I have to do a word count! Or do they want a blurb or a synopsis.
I hate synopses. What is the point? There is no such thing as original anymore. They have heard it all before, they know what’s coming? Why oh why?
Oh yes, obvious really – make me stick to the letter of the law, their very own arbitrary law. Make me jump through hoops. Thus making me, ‘the one’ for them. Should they say yes, fangs will almost certainly appear.
Negative about the whole experience? No, actually. It’s exciting. In come rejections, down goes the mood, in comes a wonderful review, all’s well. You just never know what is around the corner. And that my friends – is motivation.
I’m lucky, I spread the word about wonderful books from an author (my mum, Mary Delorme) previously with a proven track record through conventional publishing. So there are no doubts from that score.
Failure is my very own option!
One great friend I have made through all this, the fine American romance author JJ Kendrick has a more succinct way of expressing our frantic attempts to escape the quicksand of three million other ‘e’ books.
Keep on writing, because you love it. It’s all a crapshoot!

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