By Evangeline Jennings
In the six weeks since we opened our doors, we’ve learned a lot about the state of independent publishing and I think we have some lessons we can share with authors and small publishers alike.
To put it all into context, let’s start with our policies and a few hard numbers.
We have six very lovely book reviewers – all dedicated readers and super-smart. No, honestly.
We have a policy that says we won’t hate on books, so we only post reviews of those we can recommend. This means some of you are getting off very lightly.
We also decided we wouldn’t let books lie around forever and leave the author hanging. If none of our reviewers picks up a book within a month of it arriving at Pankhearst Towers, then we take it off our list and let the author know.
Here are the numbers for our first six weeks.
|Books currently available to reviewers||40|
|Discarded unreadable requests||2|
|Books nobody wanted to read||19|
|Books that were read but the reviewer felt unable to recommend||11|
|Books currently with a reviewer||23|
|Books we’ve actually reviewed||14|
If you do the math, this is what it tells you. Of the 69 books our reviewers have processed so far, 21 weren’t read. That’s over thirty percent.
If you’re the writer of one of those books, this can mean one of three things.
- The email you sent us was unreadable – we’ve had two of those so far.
- The package you sent – artwork, pitch, synopsis, whatever – didn’t spark the interest of even one person in a group of six enthusiasts who are keen to find and support good new books and writers.
- You did spark someone’s interest, but when they looked at the opening chapters on Amazon, the flame quickly died.
Moving on, of the 25 books we’ve read, eleven weren’t good enough for our reviewers to recommend. At all. Not even a qualified three-star review.
Very roughly, and assuming a similar rate of return from the 23 books our reviewers are actively reading, this means that only four out of every ten books we received were good enough to recommend to readers. For however little that’s worth.
Now here’s a few tips for authors and publishers.
First, write better books. Seriously.
Second, check your email before you send it. Get a second account and mail it to yourself. We’re not using some weird-ass obscure email client here – we’re using Gmail – and whatever clever formatting you may have been trying to pull off, it didn’t work. Here’s a thought – maybe the reason you’re self-publishing is because no agent was ever able to read your query emails? And no, we didn’t have time to chase you and ask for a readable message. We have 107 other requests to work through.
Third, read the second part of this editorial for tips on avoiding the pitfalls we’ve seen time and time again. It should be along in a day or two.