Sunday, June 8, 2014

Patience required, please send to.........

Is it just me or does everything in the world of writing take forever and a day to get sorted?

A bold statement, which I am sure will upset or annoy a lot of people, but based on experience it's going to take a few months for those people to tell me :-)

First let me explain that I do understand that there are a lot of people trying to do a lot of good for Indie Authors, to propel the 'poor relative' of 'Authordom' up the food chain. But (and I've already admitted to not being over blessed with patience) why does everything seem to take so long?

Examples - IndieBRAG, LLC - It clearly states that it can take up to four months from point of submission for a response (and they really mean four months!) - but why? They charge a fee ($20.00) to 'process' your book submission with the following notice on the response email

"Please note that due to the large number of nominations we receive each week, and our commitment to give every book the consideration it deserves, our review process may take up to four months, possibly longer."

Where else in the world would a person give away money, hard earned currency, to a Company and not expect any return whatsoever for FOUR months? From a philosophical perspective, here is a company, a business, charging for a 'service'; I work in the 'service' industry and I can count the number of my clients that would wait four months (and pay for the privilege) for that service on one hand, with thumb and four digits missing! And finally it arrives - "sorry, you were unsuccessful" Again, to be fair, their website does say that they do not provide feedback or reasons as to why the submission was unsuccessful.

Cynically I have a vision of a rather overweight bespectacled man in his mid thirties sitting at his desk, feet up, with coffee and doughnuts. On one screen is his bank account balance merrily clicking up in $20 increments, on the other a list of books submitted with date of submission beside them; they're diarized to flag when the four months is nearly up. Just as he is dunking his doughnut in his cup of flat white with two sugars, one of the book titles flashes red. Lifting the soggy doughnut to his mouth he leans across the desk and pushes the 'reject' key on the stained keyboard prompting the automated "sorry, you were unsuccessful" email, whilst focusing on the bank balance. (Remembering, of course, to click 'accept' every now and again)

I have a lot more forgiveness for Billy Buttons at the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, although even there my patience is wearing very thin. Billy (real name Edward Trayer) has created this great competition where those Indie Authors that make it through the prelims get good quality feedback - the one thing (in my opinion) every single Author should be looking for. Edward asks for a reasonably small submission fee but, again in my opinion, the promised feedback alone is worth every penny. Closing dates are the 31st December of the preceding year, finals held in April. In all fairness to Edward he does state that feedback will be sent out from March after the finalists are announced and can take up to five months. He managed to get the finalists announced in February and we're now in June and guess what - still no feedback for me. Remembering that he works full time, has a family and travels a lot it is understandable - but that doesn't make it acceptable. In this ever changing world of technology it seems the industry still operates on 'old' time. 

These things take so long because they've always taken so long and people just accept that. As a fairly new author this is a huge frustration, and for anybody that wants to make a name for themselves in the industry, get organised, and get with the times please. It is no longer a case of writing books on old typewriters, printing the pages on wafer thin sheets, binding and sending off to various publishers via the postal system, and waiting six months - things have evolved, modern technologies have made the process a whole lot slicker - so why does it still take so flippin' long?! It seems this is one 'Industry Standard' that hasn't changed.

Ed seems a great bloke and I am not being disrespectful but since I submitted 'Russian Redemption' in December 2013 I have written 2 short stories (Fated Encounters and one yet to be published) plus started a further three novels including the follow on of Russian Redemption) - so what impact is this promised 'feedback' actually going to have? The lengthy time delay between selection and feedback unfortunately severely devalues the feedback, or at least the effectiveness of it, which is a shame.

There are many people, agents, organisations, competitions etc that rely on a regular supply of good quality literature for their survival. I believe there is a great deal of arrogance being displayed from these people and organisations (absolutely NOT Ed!) - In the greater scheme of things this is the 'tail wagging the dog'. What's the point in owning a bookshop if there are no books to sell? In any service industry the model is very simple

Stage 1: The 'people' need the service so charge what you like

Stage 2: Competition grows so charges (and profit) are reduced to retain the customer
Stage 3: Figure out a diversification, or 'added value', to retain the customer
Stage 4: Pay the customer to stay with you just so you still have the market share, until such time as you come up with the added value.

You can play with the words and the stages but ultimately 'service' is value and perception is changing.

"Beware the Ides of March" 

I'm gonna get off my soap box now, but I feel so much better for getting that off my chest :-)

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