It’s mind-boggling how much the publishing industry has changed in the last few years. Thanks to the invention of the e-reader, authors can now self-publish their work and actually have a legitimate chance of being widely read. Amazon has really leveled the playing field in that way. For example, my first novel, Following My Toes, has been downloaded well over 20,000 times! This is incredible to me. Of course, I priced it at 99 cents and that has a lot to do with its success. Years ago when I was first published the Kindle had not yet been invented. At that time I thought a successful month of sales was selling a dozen books.
However, my second full-length novel, Starring in the Movie of My Life, hasn’t sold nearly as well. It’s gotten great reviews, including ones from Midwest Book Reviews and RT Book Reviews. It’s placed well in several contests. It was even featured on USA Today’s book blog, thanks to IndieReader.com. But for some reason, it doesn’t sell as much as I hoped it would. Is it the cover? Is it that the subject matter is sort of serious? I wish I knew. I wish the formula for how to write a popular book was clear, but it’s not. It’s such a crapshoot.
Now Amazon is making it more difficult for indie authors to get ahead. With their new policy against authors reviewing other authors, and against people with personal relationships posting reviews, they are taking down reviews left or right, sometimes without proof of their policies being violated at all. Meanwhile, don’t tell me that the major publishers don’t practice nepotism. Yet only the indie authors are being hurt by this, and it’s a harmful policy indeed. Legitimate reviews are being removed for no reason. Furthermore, sites like Pixel of Ink, and Ereader News Today, won’t let you advertise with them unless your book has a review ranking of over 4 stars. That would rule out bestsellers like Gone Girl or JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, but they don’t need advertising.
And still the major publishers continue to exclude newcomers and take few chances on unknowns. Do you know the easiest way to get your book published by a major publisher? Become famous first. Seriously. If Snooki can get a book contract, why can’t I? The answer is simple; most people know who Snooki is, but few people know who I am. That’s too bad for me, but what can you do?
I don’t mean to sound bitter. Actually, I consider myself very lucky, because I can write about what I want and potentially find readers. And, despite their unfair review policies, I’m still deeply grateful to Amazon for leveling the publishing playing field.
I’m aware that November Surprise will appeal to a limited amount of people. Not everyone loves politics the way my main character, Lucy, does. But I’m confident that the love story will appeal to a lot of people, because who doesn’t love a love story? The political and pop culture references simply add flavor. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I’m aware that a major publisher probably wouldn’t touch it. That doesn’t mean that people won’t enjoy it, though.
This is an exciting time to be a writer. We’re at an impasse, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the publishing industry next. No matter what, I plan to be a part of it!