Self Publishing -- Ideas of a Site

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#1
Ok, with the intense interest in self publishing and the fact that most readers feel they have a book in them and are actively trying to share that book with the world (thank you Amazon), and the number of requests we keep getting for self published book reviews, I've decided to devote some of my limited time to creating a site just for self published authors.

I'm not exactly sure WHAT specific type of site, but it might be in the realms of helping self published authors critique each other's work, promote their works (i.e. sort through the crap and provide a means for legibly good work to get noticed by the big dogs, blogs, etc), get real reviews (no, not paid positive reviews -- you have Amazon.com for that), and maybe a distribution system for allowing people to download your book with a review as payment. A site like this would likely take months to build, costs thousands of dollars, and probably take a good year to get off the ground. So if I devote that sort of time to it, it actually has to be like, useful.

So a couple questions for you authors:

1. For you self published authors, what do you think is missing from the current crop of websites that cater to self published authors?

2. What would you like to see on a website about self publishing?

3. Would you be willing to give away your book to the public (a certain number anyways) for a review

4. What sort of advertizing budget do you guys have?

5. How do you go about promoting your current book (besides requesting blogs to review your book!).
 
#2
Btkong;

I completed my first book about two years ago, and have tried to get it published in the standard manner - no luck. Then I though about self publishing and even looked into it for about 3 months, then I got promoted and my extra time vanished. Recently I put up my own site focused on Role-play gaming (Point System Gaming - google sites), and have decided to offer my book for review and comments. Because my site just launched last month, I do not have the traffic needed to get 'the word out', and thus, not much activity yet.

To respond to a few of your questions;
In order to effectively obtain good feedback you need a strong group of functional writers or serious readers that can offer objective reviews. This translates into a high traffic website/blog. Further, you and/or perhaps a group of friends that are serious about writing need to put forth the time and effort to read the books submitted. Perhaps have a published set of guidelines that authors must meet to obtain a book review on the website. You and/or your team can focus on a single book from each of the major genres and feature that book for a given period of time (3-5 days) before moving on to another.

Just my two cents;
Hovannes
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#3
Btkong;

I completed my first book about two years ago, and have tried to get it published in the standard manner - no luck. Then I though about self publishing and even looked into it for about 3 months, then I got promoted and my extra time vanished. Recently I put up my own site focused on Role-play gaming (Point System Gaming - google sites), and have decided to offer my book for review and comments. Because my site just launched last month, I do not have the traffic needed to get 'the word out', and thus, not much activity yet.

To respond to a few of your questions;
In order to effectively obtain good feedback you need a strong group of functional writers or serious readers that can offer objective reviews. This translates into a high traffic website/blog. Further, you and/or perhaps a group of friends that are serious about writing need to put forth the time and effort to read the books submitted. Perhaps have a published set of guidelines that authors must meet to obtain a book review on the website. You and/or your team can focus on a single book from each of the major genres and feature that book for a given period of time (3-5 days) before moving on to another.

Just my two cents;
Hovannes
While I'm not going to go the self-publishing route, I agree regarding guidelines. Other places for aspiring writers (e.g. Book Country or Critters workshop) require you to either do 3 reviews/reads of others' work before you get your own work read, or to at least do an even exchange (e.g. no reviewing a short story and handing off a 100,000 word novel in return). That way people are actually getting critiques and it's more likely that the reviewers (or peers or whatever you want to call them) will put forth the effort to provide useful comments.

I actually don't mind reading works-in-progress, and have been told I provide useful advice (on Book Country, anyway, though I haven't been there in awhile). It's all about the approach. Someone actually wants help, I'm more than happy to provide it (and be nice about it, too!). Someone wants to charge me actual money for an unfinished, unedited product? That's a different story.
 

Cody Kelly

Possibly a Darkfriend
#4
I'm new to the Kindle self-publishing game (and to this forum). I'm trying to figure this all out. Sifting through the Internet and reviewing all the suggestions for getting self-published novels going, and thinking a bit about it all, it struck me that a web site would be useful that did the following:

1) self-published authors pay a small fee (or else how does the thing stay alive?) to join.

2) Everybody submits his/her own book.

3) Each member must read a few (of someone else's) self-published tomes in order to get their own tale read. Who knows, but, say, each author must read 5 other books to get their own read the equivalent 5 times.

4) Each author must submit a short review of each book he/she has read.

5) To maintain integrity, the author/reader has no choice of the 5 that he/she will read. They will be randomly provided.

6) Also to maintain integrity, the reviewer is allowed to grade each book 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. In other words, the reviewer only gets ONE of each category to sanction upon the five books.

7) The intention is not to demoralize people with bad reviews. Only the 4 and 5 reviews would be automatically published. A 3 will be posted only with the author's OK. 2s and 1s won't be published anywhere. The implicit system here will be that the "best" material will (presumably) get the most positive reviews. The poor reviews won't be used to punish weaker novels. For the weaker stuff, they would not get the attention of the stronger. For such material that is invisible to the public, that is the situation they are in anyway. There is no mean-spiritedness in the process. The terrible stuff dies a quiet death, not a ruthless one.

8) This system would allow for the variable of reviewer "taste." Some people hate stuff that other's love. It's human nature, regardless of good writing, good plot, whatever ... A reviewer's disdain for an entire genre or style would not be allowed to trash it.

If this system is too rigid, what other option might there be? I'm suggesting a system to help people but not harm (or hammer) them. A--hole reviews would be discretely weeded out, as would bad authors.

Cody Kelly / The Crack in the Ceiling
 

Shaun

Possibly a Darkfriend
#5
Hi, just my two cents worth. I had my first novel published the conventional way and have gone the self-publish route for my second. Unless you have some sort of public profile already established it seems to be quite difficult to publicise your novel.

In regards to a few of your questions. I think all self published authors are willing to provide free copies of their books for review. From what I've seen it's become the norm to offer a free copy in exchange for a review. As for budgets, it all depends on how confident said author is in their product. If they believe it will do well they'll be willing to spend some money on publicity. As for self publicising, facebook, twitter, pinterest — the usual social media sites are best. I've also printed some business cards to hand to out to anyone and everyone, and also got in contact with newspapers in areas featured in my work (thankfully my fantasy story has real-world settings).

I've only just released my first self-published book so still learning the ropes as far as marketing it goes, but hope my experiences help you with your site.
 

Prometheus

Killed in the battle against the Mad King
#6
Ok, with the intense interest in self publishing and the fact that most readers feel they have a book in them and are actively trying to share that book with the world (thank you Amazon), and the number of requests we keep getting for self published book reviews, I've decided to devote some of my limited time to creating a site just for self published authors.

I'm not exactly sure WHAT specific type of site, but it might be in the realms of helping self published authors critique each other's work, promote their works (i.e. sort through the crap and provide a means for legibly good work to get noticed by the big dogs, blogs, etc), get real reviews (no, not paid positive reviews -- you have Amazon.com for that), and maybe a distribution system for allowing people to download your book with a review as payment. A site like this would likely take months to build, costs thousands of dollars, and probably take a good year to get off the ground. So if I devote that sort of time to it, it actually has to be like, useful.

So a couple questions for you authors:

1. For you self published authors, what do you think is missing from the current crop of websites that cater to self published authors?

2. What would you like to see on a website about self publishing?

3. Would you be willing to give away your book to the public (a certain number anyways) for a review

4. What sort of advertizing budget do you guys have?

5. How do you go about promoting your current book (besides requesting blogs to review your book!).
btkong

I think that the most important thing is to control the volume. Most current sites allow you to upload your own book without any real prior site history. Maybe a credit system based on reviews linked to how much text you can upload might work.

There should be an editorial review by some sort of panel to keep rubbish work off and maintain standards.

It's tough because there are so many sites already out there.

It needs to be the book that shines not the authors marketing skills!
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#7
I think most avid readers don't mind reviewing and providing feedback but a WHOLE book? That is just not happening, I think that is just too hard on the readers. I guess it might not be that big of a deal to people also wanting to get their own work read.
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#8
Some good ideas guys. I posted that because I've seen such a rampant rise in the whole self publishing model now. As much as I do dislike the general concept, you can't fight the flow of the tide and for some (talented) authors, self publishing has become a real route to financial and literary success.

There is all this pent up energy that potential authors have and it would be nice to give them an outlet and way to try and help find success. Of course, talent is still key here and not just marketing, but certainly there are talented authors who simply lack the marketing skills/means of getting people to read and review their works. It would be interesting to find a way to help that segment find some success.

I've been tossing up having a prominent Top 25 Best Indi/Self Published Fantasy Book list for a while. It's kind of been a side thought looking at how to create a platform to cater to self published authors as well, though I do know there are plenty of those sites out there. The question is, are they providing self published authors with everything they need or is the system flawed?
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Some good ideas guys. I posted that because I've seen such a rampant rise in the whole self publishing model now. As much as I do dislike the general concept, you can't fight the flow of the tide and for some (talented) authors, self publishing has become a real route to financial and literary success.

There is all this pent up energy that potential authors have and it would be nice to give them an outlet and way to try and help find success. Of course, talent is still key here and not just marketing, but certainly there are talented authors who simply lack the marketing skills/means of getting people to read and review their works. It would be interesting to find a way to help that segment find some success.

I've been tossing up having a prominent Top 25 Best Indi/Self Published Fantasy Book list for a while. It's kind of been a side thought looking at how to create a platform to cater to self published authors as well, though I do know there are plenty of those sites out there. The question is, are they providing self published authors with everything they need or is the system flawed?
Reckon you'll have done well to have read 25 self published books. Might have to be liberal in your interpretation of self published. Still, might be interesting to see what's out there in this space.
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#10
Hi, just my two cents worth. I had my first novel published the conventional way and have gone the self-publish route for my second. Unless you have some sort of public profile already established it seems to be quite difficult to publicise your novel.

In regards to a few of your questions. I think all self published authors are willing to provide free copies of their books for review. From what I've seen it's become the norm to offer a free copy in exchange for a review. As for budgets, it all depends on how confident said author is in their product. If they believe it will do well they'll be willing to spend some money on publicity. As for self publicising, facebook, twitter, pinterest — the usual social media sites are best. I've also printed some business cards to hand to out to anyone and everyone, and also got in contact with newspapers in areas featured in my work (thankfully my fantasy story has real-world settings).

I've only just released my first self-published book so still learning the ropes as far as marketing it goes, but hope my experiences help you with your site.
Good information, thanks.

When it comes to doing reviews for authors from the perspective of a blog/website owner, it comes down to time and effort.

Do you really want to spend all your spare time reviewing potential catastrophes for...free? It's time consuming to read any sort of book and add even more effort to write a review for a book (even one you actually like) and the motivation. I've had some people tell me the review process is all about love of reading. If you to read, you should be willing to read books for the sheer love of it and review them.

I don't think book blogs are really trying to slap the little guy around, but just limiting reviews to actually published books (and even from that list, only reviewing works that, hey, you actually think looks interesting) serves as a quality control filter right there. I can tell you that reading a badly written self published book is a horrible, horrible job. I've done it a couple times when the site was new because I promised I would, but never again!
 

btkong

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#11
Reckon you'll have done well to have read 25 self published books. Might have to be liberal in your interpretation of self published. Still, might be interesting to see what's out there in this space.
Yea, the problem is I haven't read 25 self published books. I'd have to combine efforts with other people to come up with the list.
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Yea, the problem is I haven't read 25 self published books. I'd have to combine efforts with other people to come up with the list.
Thought that might be the case. Still, might me a good way to discover some good up and coming authors assuming the people you were relying upon have decent taste.
 
#13
If you join Emma Rose's newsletter you can get free romance books all the time. She runs promotions about once a week. You can search Emma Rose Romance to find her site.
 

Matthew Johnson

Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life
#14
I publish my short works in amazon kindle. It takes time to get noticed, since there are thousands of ebooks out there. Many indie stories are really, really bad. Poor editing, bad story technique, and overall not well constructed. However, there are a few good ones. You can google my name and "Retribution" to find my story.
 

Rasheedah Prioleau

Will likely be killed by a Lannister soon
#16
Hey,

After being dropped by a publisher, I found myself back to self-publishing. It's kind of a blessing in disguise, a little like moving back in with my parents after my marriage ended... but not quite so depressing. If a writer can get other sites to give them a good review then take a shot. I sent out about 200 request for reviews on my latest book and I've gotten back 5 from individual bloggers. I think it's okay to have indie writers jump through a few basic hoops and if one hoop is to get two or three avid readers to recommend your book to others, I don't think that's asking too much.

1. For you self published authors, what do you think is missing from the current crop of websites that cater to self published authors?
For me I would like to see an association that points to low fee reputable editors. I've gotten two books back from three editors only to find mistakes still throughout. Even ones that charge high fees have stated the writer's responsibility for getting a "proofreader." So, that has been frustrating.

2. What would you like to see on a website about self publishing?
Yes. I would have liked to see a one stop shop to explain the options when I first began. Now, my model is sticking to the southeastern region of the US. So I have the Southern Independent Book Sellers Association as my main target for major book distributions. I distribute to them through IngramSpark. I distribute to individuals through CreateSpace. I do my free e-publishing through BookBaby. But, it took me a long time to work out those logistics.

3. Would you be willing to give away your book to the public (a certain number anyways) for a review.
A very limited number to any given site, maybe one or two. The site would have to have a strong presence with an active social media following.

4. What sort of advertizing budget do you guys have?
$0-$500 annually

5. How do you go about promoting your current book (besides requesting blogs to review your book!).
The best thing to do for me has been a blog tour. This includes finding book bloggers and blog radios interested what I'm writing about.
 
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Matthew Johnson

Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life
#17
I build a connection via facebook. I just started some self-publishing of my short e-books last August, so I am seeing what type of action my second release will bring.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#19
Twitter is also really good. I think it's better than Facebook.
I'm curious about why you like Twitter. No judgment or evaluation implied, I'm genuinely interested in your response, because I've never asked an author about this before. It just seems to me that I have a lot of followers who are self-published or indie authors (I usually follow back out of politeness) who are constantly promoting their books. Many of them blur together after while. Do you see an increase in sales and/or attention from this type of tactic? Is the payoff worth the effort? Can you calculate a degree of return on your investment (of time)?
 

Rasheedah Prioleau

Will likely be killed by a Lannister soon
#20
I honestly just became active on Twitter about three months ago, but the possibility of reach, exposure, and interaction with fans is a lot better than it is on Facebook. I did start building my social media following with Facebook, but then Facebook began to limit exposure within an individual network in order to push their ad services. So, I would find that not everyone in my network was seeing my posts. At the same time the only people that can see your posts are those people in your network, unless your post is liked and shared. With Twitter people in your network and people in the network of the people you that follow you can see your posts. At the same time the use of hashtag has enabled people talking about the same thing to see what people are saying about that thing. For example #superbowl allows everyone that wants to follow what others are saying about the Super Bowl to do so. I do it with shows that I love to watch like Beauty & The Beast, American Horror Story, and Scandal. I've been retweeted by Idris (who I have a mad crush on) and I've been followed by low key industry people. Twitter makes me feel more social and involved in things that are going on.