I want you to take a look at some research I’ve done and see if you come to the same conclusion I do.
Lets start with two novels I reviewed that are written by local Vancouver authors.
The first is The Continuation of Love by Other Means by Claudia Casper.
It has one, two-star review on Amazon.com, which I wrote, and two reviews on Amazon.ca, one of which is also mine, averaging three stars.
Lucky by Kathryn Para, the winner of the second search for the Great BC Novel, has two reviews on Amazon.ca, one mine and one that appears to be by a personal friend who “visited her at home”. The average is four stars. On Amazon.com Lucky has five reviews (including mine) for an average of four stars.
Not so stellar I’m thinking when you compare them to my latest novel, The Local Rag which has seven reviews on Amazon.com (none of which I wrote, paid for, or pleaded with friends to review) for an average of four stars, and one on Amazon.ca of five stars.
So how come both these women are getting paid reading gigs and interviews with main stream media and I’m getting nothing?
Upon further investigation I discovered local poets who are garnering the same acclaim with the local literati but zero with Amazon reviewers. Some didn’t even have their books available on Amazon or at the VPL.
I’m not disparaging these other local writers and I’m happy for their success, even though it would appear, at least on Amazon, that my latest book is more popular then theirs.
So what’s the difference between them and me?
One thing. They all have traditional publishers.
Sure, their publisher may be some small press operating from a barn just north of Nowhere, Saskatchewan, but these authors didn’t self publish. One way or another they got their manuscript accepted and published by a bona fide (?) Canadian publisher who’s likely getting significant grants from the Canadian government just for existing.
I’ve traveled the submissions route before and it’s like living in suspended animation. You send out your manuscript and wait at least six months. By then maybe you’ve heard something, maybe not. You decide to continue to wait or accept that the recipient of your work is not even gracious enough to let you know they threw your manuscript in the garbage, and you move on.
You have no idea what’s going on, you have no control over the process. You are, in a word, powerless. No wonder so many authors choose to self-publish their work.
Unfortunately, you’re very, very unlikely to receive any critical acclaim if you follow the self-publishing path and that’s because there’s a stigma attached to self-published books and regrettably it’s deserved.
With the increasing ease of self-publishing and the complete lack of gatekeepers self-published books have become an anathema to the serious writer. It’s estimated Amazon carries 37 million self-published titles, up 438% since 2008. Most of these books are terrible or mediocre at best. Finding a well written, good story among all this dreck is near impossible and every one has come to realized it including credible publishers, agents, reviewers and even readers.
For me to self-publish another novel is futile. I’ll garner a handful of positive reader reviews, fewer sales and that’s it.
So I’m going back to researching potential publishers and submitting my manuscripts, the first being East Van Saturday Night, four short stories and a novella.
It’s deja vu all over again only this time I’m older (not necessarily a plus), smarter (at least in this arena) and a far better writer.
It’s time for real critical acclaim and credibility as a writer – or not.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs
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