(Continued from previous post – Review Central: Chapter One)
In the first installment of this multi-part post I detailed the way I arrived at the decision to seek professional help in my writerly endeavors. That decision was an acknowledgement that I’d have to invest some cash in the publication and marketing of my first book, The Obeahman’s Dagger.
Up to that moment, self-publishing had been a great adventure, a challenge to do what they all said couldn’t be done. And it was to be a learning experience as well. Though I had (at the time, but I’ve since reconsidered that decision) no intention of writing a sequel to Dagger, there were other books and drafts of books sitting in their file folders waiting their turn for a chance in the marketplace. Doing it all for Dagger was an experiment – could I publish a book of acceptable quality without spending a dime on professional expertise? Could I do it all myself and obtain a competitive product?
In the end, the answer was a qualified but resonant no.
I could not. The writing was okay, but the advice of an editor with a deep understanding of commercial success would have enhanced the book’s sales. Read the Kirkus review to see what I’m talking about. The worst thing was the cover – a good idea but the technical execution lacked control; the colors came out wrong and I just didn’t know how to fix it. I needed help and would have to find it for my next book. The big question was – how much would I have to spend to get it?
The first task was to identify competent people who would work on the promise of payment, with little or no up-front cash demand. The second was to evaluate the quality and integrity of for-pay services I could access. I figured I’d try to find the best value from the assembly I’d gathered.
You’re familiar with the experience of ‘sticker-shock’? The answers left me dazed and confused. I couldn’t afford this. There had to be another way. Then I came across a site that was eponymously named Writer’s Relief. Here’s a link to the site if you’re interested. Sounded good, so I tried them.
My book was rejected but they made it clear that the rejection was not on account of quality issues; it was simply that the book’s niche was too narrow and they didn’t want to be part of a likely unprofitable publication.
No hard feelings here. I encourage anyone who is curious to check them out. At least they’re honest. And I did get some valuable information (nothing I didn’t already know but it’s good to have objective confirmation of your opinions) about the marketability of my book. Back on the drawing board, I tried a different approach.
How, I asked myself, can I get a professional opinion on the quality and market-value of The Obeahman’s Dagger?
I still had doubts about the overall quality of the book but I was, at the same time, curious about how best to tackle the marketing problem.
I spent weeks researching those questions; you can read about my discoveries in my next post.
(To be continued)