Some mainstream publishers have become creative in how they handle the “slush pile.”
You create a profile on their site, submit your entire novel or book, and other writers read and rate the book or novel. If you get the popular vote, an editor gives you a free critique and if the editor likes it, a publishing contract.
I registered on one of these sites and uploaded a nonfiction book I had finished. People cluttered my timeline asking for me to read and rate their books and novels. Few actually read mine in exchange. One person told me how best to trick the system so my ratings will go up quicker. The books and novels I rated went un-discussed. A month later I stopped visiting the site. Six months ago I deleted my profile and book from the site. My overall experience was not good.
I’d rather submit the old fashioned way than risk plagerism by posting my entire novel or book online. People wanted their name known. They played the system, trampled over people to get their work read, and it was frustrating and overwhelming. Overwhelming because with all the social networking we have to do as writers, having to read an exhausting amount of novels or books just to get others to read and rate yours bled over into my carefully balanced schedule.
It also made me realize what those editors must be feeling every day that they come to work. They read from the slush pile or get rude emails from needy writers who think their work is the next C.S. Lewis. The risks of submitting to these sites outweigh the potential. I can’t see the value in that system. After all the work that I put into Book 1: The Rose Door of The Origin Series and the hours I am putting into Book 2: Firebrand, being so careless as to publish the whole thing online makes me nervous. It’s like winning the lottery, cashing the ticket, and leaving the bag of cash on the driveway and hope it’s still there in the morning. There’s potential for publication, but it takes more work than its worth just to get heard on those sites.
I’d rather write, submit, and do my normal social networking, because I can’t live like that. I can’t make this all about me or there’s a danger of the system having a negative influence on me.
Over at the Rabbit Room yesterday, I read:
“As I pondered this, I remembered an anecdote that I’d read, or heard (I can’t remember which) of a conversation that Lewis had with Walter Hooper, his secretary at the time of his death. One day, as they sorted through letters, they were discussing the knights of the Round Table who went out in search of fame, glory, and “worship.” Surrounded by letters to Lewis from dozens of smitten readers, Hooper was struck by the similarity of Lewis’s fame to those of the knights and asked the hard question: was Lewis was aware of the fame he garnered and did he have to resist the desire for worship? “Every day,” was the gist of Lewis’s quiet answer.” (Sarah Clarkson)
Imagine receiving all those letters every day and having to remember that it’s not about you. The connections C.S. Lewis made with his fans is the kind of life I would like to live; to treat every email and comment as much as I can afford like a real person—not as a fan, but as someone I can connect with and encourage. Influence is a powerful tool in our culture. People use it for good and bad. At my old high school the slogan across the back of the gym was: The pen is mightier than the sword. Just look at the media and the influence of celebrities. For some people, all it takes is one word from a celebrity to change some people’s minds politically or otherwise without anyone checking the facts.
So if you choose to upload your book or novel to these sites, do so with caution. Some risk is required when pursuing publication, but how much is an individual decision. For me, the risks outweigh the potential on these sites.
What experiences have you had on these kind of sites?