In my short career as a self-published author I have published two e-books. The first, Shame and Internet Trolling is an autobiographical look at my experience wasting time as a member of a Star Trek message board called Sistertrek. Specifically I look at my behavior on the message board (including baiting and trolling people in the politics section) as well as my thoughts on the motivation behind my behavior. The second, The Book of Bud is a novel I wrote based on an attempt to write a novel in 50 days about a thirty something male who hated his office cubicle work life. Come to think of it, there was a nice chunk of autobiographical material in that one as well.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE SELF-PUBLISHING EXPERIENCE
Although neither one of these books set the world on fire, I did learn quite a bit during the process about writing, self-publishing and attempting to market them. The first lesson I learned was that writing and self-publishing a book requires time, effort and some (although not necessarily a lot of) money. It should not be surprising that writing a book requires a good deal of time and effort if one is concerned about creating a quality work product. As far as the money part goes, the actual publishing of the book is not that expensive. You can spend a bit more on editing, book cover design and marketing if you want. Personally, I would not suggest doing this if this is your first e-book or if you do not have a following of some kind. Because the truth is, you will probably spend more money than you will make in the process. All that considered, I still think the creative process of writing and self-publishing is a good experience. My advice to any newbies is to try to spend as little of your own money in the process.
The second lesson I learned is that once the book is published it can be challenging (to say the least) to get the book read and reviewed. My experience being a self-published author and milling about the various websites and forums that cater to self-published authors is that there are many people who have written books and are desirous of other people to read and review their work. Some are desperate. They want this for two reasons. The first reason is premised on the dream that their book will turn into a best seller and free them from their day job. Reviews are one way to boost the profile of the book on Amazon (or other self-published distributors) and the higher the profile the more theoretical sales they will make. The second reason most likely arises once the dream of self-publishing a best seller evaporates. This reason is the desire for some form of validation. The author has put all this time, effort and money into the process and although he or she has given up the hope of recouping that investment, he or she wants some form of acknowledgment. Another person (who is not a friend or family member) reading the book and writing an honest review can provide this validation.
THERE ARE MANY SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS WHO WANT THEIR BOOKS REVIEWED
When I look up the two books I self-published on Amazon I see that they are both ranked in the 2,000,000s for their particular genre. This means that there are at least 2,000,000 other people (and probably far more considering all the possible genres) who find themselves in this position. Most will never have their book read, let alone read and reviewed.
But this then means that there are millions and millions of people who are motivated to get their books reviewed and the obvious solution (at least to me anyway) is to have these people read and review each other’s books. However, the problem with this solution is that if two authors read and review each other’s work there will be a motivation to provide a positive review in the hope that the other reviewer will do likewise. Conversely, there is a fear that a negative review will invite a similar negative reprisal. This dynamic calls the honesty of these type of review swaps into question and is probably why Amazon and other review platforms frown on the practice.
MY SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM
My solution to this problem is simple. Create a matching service that introduces self-published authors to each other in a non binary or non reciprocal manner. That is, create a system whereby Author A reviews Author B who reviews Author C who reviews Author A. In this way there is no longer the motivation to provide a falsely positive review. This is a simplified version of the process but it articulates the philosophy that if Author A reviews Author B, Author B cannot review Author A.
This is the service my website www.binderreview.com provides. For $5 you will be introduced to an author whose book you will review. In addition, another author will be introduced to you to review your book. Note, www.binderreview.com is just an introduction service. Once introduced, it is up to you and the other author to arrange the book’s transfer and decide on which review platform you want the review to appear. None of this is transacted through the website.
THE SALES PITCH (SORT OF)
Of course there are paid review services. Most of them cost over $100 and take a month or two for the book to be read and reviewed. Moreover, the review will generally appear on the paid review’s website and not on Amazon or another book selling website. But if a person has already sunk some money into their project do they really want to sink hundreds of dollars more into a project from which they will probably never seen any monetary return on investment? This is why the cost of www.binderreview.com is priced so low. My thinking was that $5 is a nominal amount to pay to be introduced to a self-published author who will review your work. Your review of another person’s work helps to defray the cost. If I could, I would provide the service for free because I understand the psychology of a self-published author in this position. But at the same time, I would like to recoup the cost I paid to develop the website and pay for hosting, etc.
The truth is, most self-published authors will never make money off of their effort. But I believe anyone who takes the time and effort to write and self-publish a book should at least have a chance that their book is read and reviewed by another person. This is the service I want to provide with www.binderreview.com.
ONE MORE THING
The only way to get this website to work is to have a certain number of people sign up to create a viable and available pool of people. I am also a little unsure as to whether the website is intuitive enough for a person attempting to use it. For this reason, for the first ten people who do sign up, in addition to being matched through the service, I will personally read your book and give it an honest review for free if you send me a copy. Also, please give me any feedback you might have on the website. My goal is to make it as user friendly as possible given my current resources.