Monday, July 2, 2012

I Love You, but I'm Not Your Beta Reader...

I just opened the most unusual e-mail I think I've ever had from a published author, and this post is just a small rant about what that e-mail contained.

At first I thought it was of those I'm trapped in a foreign country and I need your help things. Or, if you give me your bank number I'll put a million dollars into your account.

I usually just delete and don't even read. But this looked different.

And it was different. Evidently, it's some kind of author promotion where an author is asking people to help her retitle/rename her published book. Basically, a gimmick to get me to click to a web site where the e-book is being sold and purchase it.

Well guess what?


Here's what the e-mail contained.

My book XXX XXX XXX needs a new title. Many people have assumed the book is about XXX due to the title and that just isn't the case. My book chronicles my son XXX's life, our rocky relationship, our family memories and much more.

Beneath this there's a link to click that says: "Submit a New Title Now!"

Then further down it says:

Rename my book.

I just ask that you are ages 15 and up to enter a title. There is no purchase required to enter and you can make as many submissions as you choose.

I've been reading that a lot of self-published authors are doing things like this lately. They usually follow reviews of their books and then comment on the review stating that they are going to go back and make changes to their storylines based on what the review said. It's like getting a book published and then going back to change it all after the revisions. Personally, it's not something I would do. But I hadn't been paying much attention because I hadn't seen it for myself.  

But this is the first time I've ever seen anyone do this with a book title. I've seen authors ask for help with various things before books get pubbed, on social media. There's nothing wrong with that, especially on facebook and twitter. I recently offered suggestions to a facebook friend about book titles right before publication and I loved helping out.

But what happens before a book is pubbed and after it is pubbed are two very different things in my humble opinion. Once that book is pubbed, you own it and take responsibility for it. You don't go back and make changes to the title or the storyline on a whim. I see nothing wrong with fixing grammatical errors and spelling errors due to formatting issues with digital books. But to ask your readers to rename/retitle your book is a gimmick I'm not interested in helping you out with.

And I can tell you for certain that I'm not clicking the link or buying the book now. I'm interested in reading finished books, with titles in place. And if you want me to be your beta reader, ask me before you pub the book, not after.


T.D. McFrost said...

Personally, self publishing isn't something I'm excited about. It still feels shady me. Maybe when I'm older and the industry has grown a little.

And It's not wise to open spam, Ryan, because simply clikcing to open the email can infect your PC. It happened to me when I was ten and using a PC at the library. At once the computer froze up and then displayed the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

I didn't tell the librarian because I thought I would've had to pay to fix it.

ryan field said...

I should know better. I just thought this might be from someone I know.

And, self-publishing isn't a new concept. It's been around for a long time. In the past, self-publishing was known more as vanity publishing. If you're interested, Anne Tyler wrote about it in her latest novel, The Beginner's Goodbye. The main character owns a self-publishing company. And it's really very honest.

The problem with self-publishing now is that a lot of people don't understand it. I think you just gave me an idea for a new post. I take for granted that people do know, and I'm starting to hear that they don't. Trust me on this, you don't get the full rundown on any web site or blogger that still depends on "traditional" publishing...agents, editors, etc...There is a lot of information out there "they" don't want you to know...or they just ignore hoping it will go away.

T.D. McFrost said...

Sounds scandalous. Tell me more. :)

ryan field said...

Oh, I will :) There are interesting things happening right now. You're going to have a lot to look forward to in the future.