Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviewed! (Maybe)

British author Mark Lawrence put out a challenge: have self-published fantasy authors submit their books to be reviewed by highly respected bloggers who write about fantasy and review books.
The structure of the challenge is to have ten reviewers be assigned 25 books each. From those, they will select one favorite to be submitted to the final pool. Once ten books have been submitted by the reviewers, then all the reviewers would read each of the books in the final pool and score each of those books. The book with the highest cumulative score would win.
From 250 to 10 to 1.
So what does that one book win? The prize is to have reviews posted by each and all the bloggers.
In other words, a huge publicity surge and promotional event.
I submitted Aggadeh Chronicles Book 1: Nobody to be considered. It has been accepted into the first round.
For all the self-published authors who submitted their work for consideration, there is still more opportunity. The reviewers have the liberty to review any of the books in their block. If a given book isn’t selected as their finalist, the reviewer can still review that book. So, even a second or third place finish can still be a win for any of the authors in the challenge. The worst thing that could happen is the reviewer didn’t like the book and doesn’t post a review for it.
For the bloggers, they just got a whole heap of potentially good books to read through. Many of them expressed a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the project, wanting to get more self-published titles into their collections of reviews.
The competition is going to be fierce. Going through the list of titles, I recognized a number of the other authors and I must say that they are very good writers.
The reviewers themselves are also highly qualified. They are not just random people who post occasional book reviews. Some have won awards for their work. They receive submissions from publishers to review their newest offerings. They all have large followings with thousands of readers.
It’s that last point that makes this such an important undertaking: large audiences. The winning author gets exposed to many potential new readers. The question on everyone’s mind—both author and reviewer alike—is will this result in a surge in sales for the winning author? For the author, the payout is obvious. But there is a something in it for the reviewer: demonstration of relevance. Did the review have any impact at all? Are people really reading these recommendations?
There is a third group with skin in the game: the self-publishing community at large. Self-publishing, while it is hitting the writing industry like a hurricane, still carries a bit of stigma in the industry. But as self-published writers crowd out trade-published writers in the bestsellers lists and begin to rake in million-copy sales, it is getting harder and harder to dismiss self-published authors as sub par.
The reviewers commented how they were excited to be looking at self-published work from independent authors. That reviewers are interested in promoting self-published books is a big step. It used to be incredibly difficult to get a reviewer to look at a self-published book. The famous New York Times bestsellers list only began accepting content from self-published authors two years ago.
What makes or breaks a good book is how visible the author can make the book to the reading public. If reviewers are becoming excited about promoting self-published books, this opens a huge promotion channel for independent authors. In this, everybody wins.
I say thank you to Mr. Lawrence and his idea to bring together independent reviewers and writers.
Now I just have to wait and see if I make the next cut. Stay tuned…!

Update–2015-03-26: Oops! Had a wrong link above. I forgot to paste the URL when I created the link, so it defaulted to another site by my writing program. (fixed)

Update-2015-05-12: Nope, didn't make the cut. Why? As I said above, the competition was very tough as there were some really good writers in the group. Only one can get the nod, and it wasn't mine. Better luck next time! :) Need the reviewer write a review for it? No, that's totally up to the reviewer.

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