It started out as barbed remarks. A competitor messaged me, saying hi, how was I doing? My picture looked so nice! He would rather lose to me than anyone else. He’d read my sample, and honestly my writing wasn’t very deep. I used phrases like “giggling”. Not very mature, or, apparently, good writing.
Then came the protests against my legitimacy as a candidate. Among the complaints that I wasn’t actually living in Fairfield at the time were phrases like “young girl”, and other swipes at my validity as an author. The judges kept me in the contest, but did little else to calm the storm, so several evenings were spent at home, crying in frustration as I tried not to engage. I wanted to defend myself, wanted to call out the unfairness of my work and myself being so constantly criticized for being what they were and for succeeding at it.
I was a young woman trying to publish a book about a young woman. How dare I?
My friends and family helped me weather the storm, some of them going to battle for me, others helping me laugh at the more ridiculous aspects of the farce. We kept asking for votes, kept getting support, and forged ahead, keeping a careful eye on how we were doing. A month after the contest opened, it closed, with a radio broadcast of the readings again, ending with the announcement of the winners.
I had come in with the most total votes. But, because of “a margin of error”, I was declared a co-winner with the contestant with the second-most votes. We were both going to be published. I tied with the man who had tried his damnedest to get me kicked out.
I wish I could say I walked away from this with my head and my book held high, and never looked back except to thank the people who had so lovingly supported me. I wish I could say that I didn’t feel like there was someone who the contest winners had clearly wanted to win, and it wasn’t me. I wish I could say that I silenced forever the little voice that popped up and asked, “Do I deserve this?” But I can’t.
What I can say, however, is that I did it. I wrote a book, a book that I love, a book that I’m proud of, and people can buy that book. I have given signings, gotten reviews, both good and bad, and have seen my book on the shelves of more than one bookstore. And I’m working on a second one. And a third.
I think I’ll always have to deal with people in the writing world telling me “you don’t count” simply because of who I am and what I write. But I’m fortunate enough to have a strong countercurrent against that, and people who want to listen to the stories I have to tell. Not everyone has that. I was lucky to have the opportunity that I did, and even luckier that there were so many people in my life, whether in the center or the periphery, who stepped forward and said, “I want to see this published.” That was the force that won and overruled the voices saying “no”.
For more on the process of working with a publisher check back in next week! Read my review of Untold here or an interview with Amy here. You can find Amy on Facebook and her Website.
Why do you care? You can do the same thing! Here are three reasons you should be giving out ARCs!
- Early Reviews: Reviews are key aspect of your marketing campaign.Don’t have a marketing campaign? Well you should, and at the top of the list should be reviews. Customers look at your cover, then read your blurb, then read your reviews if buying online. Sometimes they won’t even open your book if you don’t have reviews. So, give away ten ARCs about three months prior to release (If possible, earlier is better but sending anything out pre-release is better than sending nothing). Tell readers that the reason you are giving them the copy is for an honest review. The reason I say to give ten out is because not every copy will get a review. Life happens, people get busy and reading the average novel takes 6-8 hours. That’s a lot of time you’re asking for so don’t be a pain and DO NOT ask the readers about the reviews until the three month period has passed. When you do ask them about it be gentle not demanding. A simple “Hey, did you get a chance to read my book yet?” will do.
- Typos: Every book has typos. They’re really hard to avoid. So when you hand out those advanced readers copies ask readers to use a post-it or take notes about typos and give them to you. One of the beauties of being an indie is you can update the book anytime. Hopefully you catch most of the typos prior to release but if you find one after don’t hesitate to fix it.
- Word of Mouth: Before Amazon and Goodreads, most readers found new books and authors when a friend or family member pointed them in that direction. The more ARCs you give away the more readers you will have at your launch. While the launch is more important to traditional publishers, you still need to pay attention to it. If you can get your book in Amazon’s top 20 for its genre or category you will be more likely to have steady sales simply for being seen. Having those early reviews and recommendations are well worth the cost of the ARCs themselves.
**BONUS** eARCs are just as helpful and don’t cost anything to create or send!
Marissa Frosch is the head of marketing at Amphibian Press and also writes under the pseudonym Cameron J Quinn. The first of her Starsboro Series is due out on January 16th. She can found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, her blog and her website.