15 September 2017

Getting Out There

In just over a month you, dear reader, will be able to buy a fresh copy of Starfall from the usual outlets. A paper and ink copy will be, I imagine, something of a rarity as the cost for dropping a paperback of this epic is pretty high. The e-book will be more reasonably charged at whatever you feel like giving me for it.

I have done something with Starfall that I have never done before. I sent copies out to reviewers. I haven't done this in the past because it hasn't been totally obvious who would be interested in reviewing my output. In the case of the three Chicago Shadows books they were super odd, police procedural? Horror? I still don't even really know.

Before that you'd have to go back in time over a decade to 2005 to my self-publishing debut, when I was new to Lulu and kindles were not a thing. So I would have had to buy and mail out individual copies of the books to get them reviewed. Back in those days I was vehemently anti e-book because Amazon hadn't made them so ridiculously easy to procure and acceptable to read.

I began writing Starfall in 2006, and it has been a source of long lament that the book I wrote for my wife has not seen the light of day for as long as we have been together (almost). When I think about it, though, what better time to put the book out than a time when I can email reviewers .epubs and .mobis, a time when digital collaboration has never been easier.

I got a couple of suggestions from a writing colleague and, once I had digested that list, I had the appetite to google for myself. I didn't have to google long before I found this immensely useful list of contacts. I worked through that too.

I do recall that back in the mists of time a writer would have to seek out obscure almanacs to get lists like that. Unsurprisingly the internet has changed the game. Good job too. Most authors are authors on the side, we don't have time to seek out, transcribe, and file any more. Much aside from anything else we have to maintain a public profile, however measly, and some of us have to typeset and publish our own books.

Not that it's all plain sailing. The problem with easy access to a resource (such as a reviewer) is probably often abused. I didn't just bang out fifty identical emails with e-books attached and spam the entire bunch of reviewers, no, not at all. I asked each one that I submitted to whether they had the time and capacity for another needy book baby.

Also, I didn't automatically submit to a reviewer just because they exist. In each case I tried to seek out a review policy to see if I failed the reviewer's requirements, which I did on occasion. I also didn't try to contact people who were not easily contactable. If I didn't know how rude a lot of authors are about getting their work out there I'd wonder how reviewers with no obvious inbox got books to review. Obviously, they may also not do reviews via request.

As I wandered through this gallery of web pages, seeking out the method for getting in touch with the reviewers, I realised that we have come to an age when you should really take some control in the matter of how people access you, or at least the public you. Anyone who visits this blog has some access, but then anyone who visits any blog has some access to the person who runs the blog. I don't really think that's enough any more.

I really do love to collaborate on things, podcasts, story collections, guest posts, anything I have time for I will do at this moment. So I set up the You're Invited! page to let people know that I was open for business. Now I know that people have a way to get in touch with me if they do want me to be on a podcast, or to write a story, or anything else.

It's early days so no one's asked yet, but I have a little bit of confidence in the fact that I haven't missed opportunities now. That's what all this accessibility stuff comes down to, opportunities are rare, and you shouldn't be passing them over. If people find it utterly impossible to work out how to get in touch then that's what will happen, on the other hand you want to control the flow. Otherwise you will miss some things and those people who are really determined will just find some other communications channel, appropriate or not.

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