When I registered at www.authonomy.com, I submitted five chapters of my two Amish books – Christmas Traditions (ISBN 0982459513) and A Promise Is A Promise (ISBN 0982459505). I didn’t do this to work my way up to the authonomy desk, like the other writers, so Harper Collins might take a look at my work. I did it to get reviews to use on Ebay and Amazon. I wanted to give prospective buyers an idea about what others thought of my two books to help them make up their minds about buying my work.
I was thrilled with most of the reviews I got from that website and used them. Three writers tried to be constructive. One didn’t realize that I’d already self published and gave me tips on which publishers to try. She thought I should be picked up if I’d get the right publisher interested in my work. One wanted me to put the whole book on authonomy so she could see how it ended. I admitted to those two people that I was already self published. I’d like them purchase the book to see how it ended. Another one (from England which is where quite a few of the submitters on that website live) picked apart the first chapter of one book to make the story read the way he’d write it. He might have been right about the list of phrases he made of my writing style "errors" not working in a book written for England’s readers so I can’t fault him for his criticism. He was trying to help me. I don’t mind constructive criticism if it’s advice that I need to take to make my writing better. However, the other English reviews I received were great so my writing went over well with those who like American Amish stories. Since then I have sold one of my books to an UK customer.
I wonder what editors would think of my books. The revisions have be to their liking and in the publishing world, they are considered the experts, but one of my book buyers said about my work, "If it ain’t broke don’t fix it." I ask my buyers to send me a review of my books. I have a whole list of reviews from buyers who like my books the way they are and their email addresses to notify them when I have a new book coming out. I have to be doing something right in my story telling when I write a story that suits me. That means I self publish a book that I’d buy for myself. Now I’m sure that’s a book that wouldn’t suit mainstream urban readers, but my target is Midwesterners, country folks, Christians and people who want an entertaining, humorous suspense or romance that isn’t filled with violence or vampires. The idea of self publishing for me is to find out who and how many of those readers like me. So far I’m pleased.
On authonomy, authors rate each other. That means for every review I got I had to read someone’s work in return and review it. That takes hours. I wasn’t always reading material that I’d buy but responded with a critique that might help the author. To get the reviews I wanted for my books, it was worth the effort and time. I even got some advice on how to get up the ladder in the website so the publisher would notice my books.
I hear all the time now that self published work, if it’s selling, might be of interest to a publisher. Several years ago after I thought I had queried all the small publishers that would accept a query without an agent and was rejected, I got a list of agent email addresses and emailed around 200 for Christmas Traditions. Of the ones that bothered to answer, some emails come back with an automated reply. A few others said they liked my idea, but they had as many clients as they wanted to handle. Months down the road, I was still receiving emailed rejections. That’s why I was surprised when an agent searching the internet writers sites for new clients emailed me about her interest in my Amish books on Authonomy. That was the good news. Bad news is she used my Yahoo email address in October. I lost my home page about then and didn’t try to reinstall it again until February. When I found the email, I emailed the agent with my excuses and said I’d like to hear more but didn’t get a reply. When I looked up the agency, that agent wasn’t listed now. I take that to mean that fate may have intervened in my favor this time.
So take heart all writers out there wanting to get published. Publishers and agents may be coming to us. Submit a portion of your work to writers sites and blogs so the work is out there for publishers and agents to see. Wait patiently while you keep writing books and submitting. Out of the blue, you might find an email from a publisher or agent just like I did. Maybe you’ll be luckier than I was. My latest Amish book is going to be out in late March – The Rainbow’s End (ISBN 0982459521). So I’m CALLING ALL AGENTS to keep hunting. I and a lot of other talented authors are waiting for your email.