F-F To Support Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Author Opportunity
You might scoff at that question – ‘no idiot reading Name of the Wind would turn it down’ – but actually many, many very clever, very experienced industry professionals did. Need more convincing? Dune by Frank Herbert, one of the most beloved Science-Fiction novels of all time, was rejected a total of 23 times before someone finally gave it a chance in the mid-1960s. Harry Potter: 12 rejections. Lord of the Flies: over 20. Carrie by Stephen King: 30. The Tale of Peter Rabbit: so many that Beatrix Potter actually had to self-publish it (it ended up selling over 45 million copies, by the way). And the list goes on…
All that said, I will admit that I’m a true sceptic of Self-Publishing. The reason for this is that I believe a lot of people Self-Publish for the sake of Self-Publishing. If you have written a book, sent it out to agents and publishers and had it rejected then I do feel that the likelihood is that you need to work on your manuscript. If you simply say ‘the publishers are wrong’ and refuse to consider that the problem may be with the work you hold in your hands then you could well be stunting your development as an artist. Publishers ARE clever people, with first hand knowledge of your target market. If you send them a book that they can make decent money on then they will generally sign you up. They are a business. If they let too many manuscripts slip through their fingers and allow them to be scooped up by their competitors then they’d soon be bankrupt.
Despite my reservations, the fact that so many incredibly successful authors have been turned down by so many publishing houses made the idea Mark outlined intriguing. What Mark proposed was that 10 bloggers each work through 25 Self-Published novels that have not yet reached the level of ‘success’ or ‘received-attention’ that the Self-Publishing authors believe their work deserves. So, in total, 10 of the most established SFF Bloggers from around the world will be reading a total of 250 Self-Published SFF novels over the course of around 6 months. We Bloggers will then need to select at least one book that we feel deserves to go through to the final, but are encouraged to review any of the 25 that we finish and feel positive about (Mark notes that it is likely that from a slush-pile of 25 many will be set aside before the final page is turned).
The 10 bloggers will then take another 6 months to read the other 9 titles put forward by the other 9 Bloggers. Each book will be scored out of 10 and the book with the highest score will be reviewed by each of the 10 Bloggers on their blogs. Now, to some of you that might not sound like a very good prize (where’s the cash, right?). But the main difference between a bestselling book and a poorly-selling book is exposure and interest. Mark’s competition promises exposure across 10 of the genre’s largest blog sites: putting the winning author’s Self-Published work in-front of thousands and thousands of genre fans. In addition, Mark Lawrence is one of the most social-media savvy Authors in the world, so you are also guaranteed that there will be a ton of interest in who wins this contest from his many, many followers too.
Even when Harry Potter was signed-up it was done so with a note from Bloomsbury Staff that the author ‘should NOT quit her day job’. So, who is to say that another platinum salmon hasn’t slipped through the publishers’ nets or that this platinum salmon simply hasn’t been quite felt confident enough to swim out into the open? There could be many reasons for either of these: perhaps the book didn’t fit neatly into a trending sub-genre, perhaps the submissions team lack the needed foresight to appreciate it, maybe their tastes just didn’t quite match the ones I will bring to the table, maybe the self-published author truly didn’t want to send the book out for submission – maybe confidence or a true disliking of the traditional publishing system.
It all boiled down to this: the best book I’ve never read could be on Amazon right now. It could be sitting – amongst a pile of duplicate copies – in the garage of an author (as they’ve been unable to shift the multiple copies they invested in printing). And it’s not just about me either. This could be a book that thousands, even millions, of people have been robbed of enjoying because it hasn’t had the level of exposure a publishing house can give it. As someone who truly, truly wants to promote good books and good authors – regardless of how they come to market – I decided that this is something I could and should be involved in.
I will keep you updated as the contest progresses…