Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘getting published

I’ve just received this from Wally in Ontario:


A great topic and an excellent suggestion to ‘pool ideas’ on how to publicise and market our ‘fortune 5000′ books. In case you and some of your other bloggers haven’t seen the excellent series of articles on Writers’ Services, they are available at the following web site:

PS: Is it Legend Press, Lightening Source or some other printer who will print our books?

Cheers Wally, this is just the sort of thing I’m looking for. YouWriteOn are using Legend Press

These days, thanks to technology, there are lots of things a writer can do when the constant round of sending out manuscripts and getting them returned with rejection slips is starting to become tedious.

At one time if you couldn’t get published conventionally there was either self- publishing (which is by no means a modern phenomenon*) or the Vanity Press.
Anyone remember Johnboy, his look of pride as he unpacked boxes of hardbound books with his name on the spine- until he realised that he had to foot the bill?

Of course, we’re too sophisticated to fall for something like that, aren’t we? The problem these days is that there are other traps for the unwary- but also more opportunities in an alternative publishing world which is still in its infancy.

I will chronicle my forages into cyberspace publishing chronologically, and where possible leave you to make your own judgements.

Occasionally I will rant. Sometimes it takes me that way.

One of the first things I did was enter a competition in the Writers and Artists’ yearbook. The prize was publication. I never heard anything, so I didn’t win.

More recently I sent my novel to ‘Macmillan New Writers.’ The advantage of this is that you can upload your entire novel (which they promise to delete from their files if you are unsuccessful.) They say that if you’ve not heard from them within twelve weeks… now how long ago was that?

One of my earliest attempts to publish via an unconventional route was through a site called ‘Golganooza.’

Golganooza came up when I typed something like ‘new author wants to get published’ into a search engine.

What Golgonooza offered to do was read a large portion of my novel (I think it was something like 25,000 words,) my covering letter and synopsis, and to provide me with a critique from an unnamed professional- who worked in publishing or the media.

It came at a cost,of course, but there was a reward. If your work was deemed eligible for their ‘Gold Medal,’ Golgonooza would approach publishers on your behalf and represent you.

I next did what I always do when I come across this type of site- I Googled its name. It’s always a good idea to do this when you come across any site which seems to be offering a shortcut to publication. Even better, Google its name with the word ‘review’ attached. There are a lot of helpful people out there, some of whom have successfully used internet services, some of whom have been bitten by them, who have reviewed them for those who follow.

For ‘Golgonooza’ I was glad to find press releases praising the innovative nature of the scheme.

Another thing to do, especially if a site claims that its methods have led to booksales, is to look for that book on Amazon. In this case I found a genuine bestseller which had been a Golganooza Gold Medal Winner.

So far so good.

To use Golgonooza’s service was going to cost about £75.00. For that I would get a professional critique (far cheaper than any comparable service) and possible recommendations to publishers. The idea- and it was a good one- was that if Golgonooza considered something worthy of publishing they would approach publishers and save them from having to wade any longer than necessary to discover your gem in the midst of the ‘slush pile.’

(The slush pile, by the way, is a derogatory term in publishing, given to works which stand no chance of ever hitting the shelves. I wonder if this also includes the odd work of rare genius which publishers won’t touch because They won’t be able to ‘move’ enough ‘units’?) 

So I sent off my submission- through the website- and looked every day to see if the ‘pending’ icon had changed to ‘reviewed.’

About one month later, it had.

I found the review quite balanced, encouraging, and professional. But I didn’t get a Gold Medal.

After another year of revision I had incorporated all of the Golgonooza suggestions and decided to submit it again.

I uploaded to the site, paid my money, and waited… and waited.

After about two months I sent an email, asking where my revew was. No reply. I emailed again. No answer.

I then had the bright idea of writing on one of their forums. Again, no answer. So I wrote messages under each separate forum discussion, asking if anyone else had not received their review. Eventually I wrote warning people not to subscribe, just to see if this would provoke a response. It didn’t.
Then I saw it. The last contribution to be made to the site before mine had been… exactly one year before.

I suddenly felt like a character in one of those ‘last man in the world’ movies- ‘the Omega Man,’ or ‘I am Legend.’
My words seemed to echo back from the screen as I wandered empty cyberspace corridors.
I went back each day, the loneliness turning to mania. I left posting after posting like some demented graffiti artist:

there’s no one there, is there? And I’m going to prove it: I’m going to write ****, and ****, and **** on your website, and you won’t take it off, because you never look do you?

And they didn’t. Obviously the experiment hadn’t worked- either there were not enough people wanting to pay for reviews- or not enough were achieving publication. I don’t know, and there was nothing on the website to explain.

But then came the day that I went on to the site… and someone else was there. I felt a rush of incredulity and exctement, like Robinson Crusoe finding Friday’s footprints on the beach.

It was a guy called Rory. He thanked me for alerting him to the fact that this was a dead website before he parted with his money. We wished each other well with our books, and went our separate ways.
I continued to leave threats of small claims courts. My friend, Darren, who is a debt collecter offered to track the owners down, but we decided it was too much trouble over £75.

I was about to leave my lonely island forever when someone else left a message. He recommended a new thing called the ‘Frontllist.’ Another way of getting to a publisher.

So, a little bit wiser and a lot more wary, I set sail for the new site.

About a year later, out of interest, I tried to find Golganooza again. It no longer exists.

* The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield was self published, as were Eragon by Christopher Paolini and The Storms of Acias by Dominic Took. Other well-known self-publishers include: Stephen Crane, E. E. Cummings, Deepak Chopra, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Grey, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain.

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