I’ve been spending far too much time lately on an online writing community where you mostly do “blind” reviews. The great majority of the pieces I encounter require a lot of work, if not shredding, deleting or burning and just starting over. But every now and again I run across something with potential.
Today I hit the opening scene to an action-adventure novel. Sort of a Da Vinci Code (in a good way) meets Indiana Jones. The copy needed some tightening and I had one question about a certain chain of events, but overall the chapter opened well, built tension and climaxed appropriately.
I submitted my review, which revealed the author and allowed me to see his profile page. I clicked over to see if he had additional chapters posted because I wondered if he was able to follow-up on his promising opening. (as many agents and editors know, manuscripts can and do implode after great first chapters) Instead I found he hadn’t logged-in since July 20, and that his book had “published” by iuniverse.
Yes, a POD vanity-press. That means HE PAID THEM to bind his manuscript and make it available for purchase. And believe me that ain’t cheap – we’re talking five figures to make that happen.
The saddest part, to me, is that based on what I saw, if he had taken the time to find a decent copy editor, he could’ve found a legitimate publisher and actually launched a writing career for himself. Instead, he won’t get distribution into conventional bookstores, no one will review his book, he won’t get the media attention that traditional publishing garners, he’ll be regarded as not legitimate, AND he squandered an opportunity to be a better writer. (not to mention the hunk ‘o money he spent, which he’ll probably never earn back)
I might actually consider hunting him down and telling him all this, but it’d be moot. He’s already made his choice. Besides, he wasted my time doing a review he’ll never see because he’s so only using the website as free advertising! Why should I bother to help him now?