Yesterday, I was scrolling through my newsfeed stopping here and there to check out new-to-me books in the marketing listings. Which I am wont to do on a lazy Sunday morning. Especially when I had to DNF a book the night before. (A whole other sad, lemme tell ya.)
Along the way, I saw a book that looked interesting along with a plea from the author with hopes people would find and love their book as much as they loved writing it. Sounds like a plea I'd make, and I'm always on the hunt for underappreciated authors, so I clicked the link. No reviews. Okay. A ranking approaching 3,000,000th. Oh, no. Poor thing. Read the marketing copy...
First off, the marketing copy could've worked for any generic fantasy novel written by anyone, it was so unspecific. It told me nothing about the book I was thinking about buying other than it was another brother n sister fantasy book in which they'd be discovering things and fighting things or some such blah.
So, I did the 'Look inside' thing. First person... okay. But the beginning reads like a note from the author telling the reader what they're going to find inside and it really didn't sound interesting. a few paragraphs later, scene break. Okay, I thinks to meself, time for the story to start. Nope, not really. The beginning was a hot mess. MC goes to find his sister at the mall and ends up somewhere else. BAM! There you are at a pivotal moment. No lead in whatsoever. Over the course of like two paragraphs.
And here's the kicker. The book shows it has a publisher* (one I've never heard of, so it may just be that the author made up a publisher name himself - which I hope he has a DBA for) and it's listed at $6.99.
New author, first book, unknown publisher... $7 ebook. Umm, no. I'm not willing to take that kind of chance with my money. And judging from the sales ranking, neither is anyone else. As poor as my sales have been throughout the past 4 years, I have never had a ranking that low. Hell, I don't think I've ever seen a ranking that low in all the time I've been buying books at Amazon.
Now, as bad as the sum of my experiences with the beginning of this book were, I might've given it a chance at 99c. I'm a sucker for the underdog sometimes. His heartfelt plea tugged at my self-published author soul. But my pocketbook is a hard-hearted thing. I can support several other new authors for the price of his book (at 99c to $3.99 ea - which about all I'm willing to pay to take a chance).
All of the above is what gave me a sad. I can see this struggling new author wringing his hands and wondering why the book of his heart is dying in the cold light of reader opinion. He may never write another book. And that makes me sad. Because even as bad as it was in the beginning, there was something there that made me wonder if, perhaps, it wasn't such a bad book after all. With some editing. And a a bit of marketing finesse on the cover copy. (Kind of like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. All it needs is a little love to be beautiful.)
I would've told him this in his initial post to the marketing group, but these days you can't be sure when a bit of constructive criticism will make you a target for psycho. So, while I can't help him directly, maybe this post will serve as a cautionary tale to other new writers. Don't do the things that this guy did.
*If the publisher listed is an actual publisher, they should be horsewhipped for what they're doing to this poor kid. (Yeah, I wouldn't say kid except his bio says something about him graduating high school in 2010. A year older than my daughter. So, he's a kid to me. And another thing - don't put high school stuff in your bio. Just don't.)