Proofreading by any other name

I have to be honest. I’ve never heard the term ‘ARC team’ before today.  When someone on Facebook mentioned wanting to build up her ARC team, I asked what that involves. I was told that readers can sign up to be on an author’s ‘ARC team’ to recieve early copies of a book on their E-reader to read in return for a review. You know, the kind of reviews cunsumers put on Amazon for books and merchandise they buy there.

Okay. Cool.

It only stands to reason that with so many new authors self-publishing their work, that there would be changes to the way the game is played. Especially in the digital age. From writing a book, to publishing and reading one, there doesn’t have ot be a single slip of paper involved. The same goes for reviews, I guess. Nothing wrong wtih that.

There are apps that let you sign up to become a member of an author’s ARC team, meaning you’ll get a copy of their book in return for a review, either on Amazon or on a blog. It’s pretty straightforward, and it’s a great way to read more books for cheap.

What made me uncomfortable was being told that it’s “The way it’s done.”

Yes and no. Mostly no.

Traditionally, an Advance Reading Copy is an early version of an author’s book that gets sent out for reviews up to 6 months (or more). Those reviews can appear in newspapers, magazines, in/on Kirkus, and online. These are given by qualified professionals.

Getting friends, family, or even strangers to read your book for free in advance is proofreading, plain and simple. Even if they leave reviews on social media, blogs or Amazon for you. Those kinds of reviews simply cannot impact upon your career the same way a write up from Publishers Weekly can.

It’s always great to hear that people enjoy your book. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But we’re talking about serious business, here. So let’s be clear about the terms. Unless they’re someone who’s in a position to give you a professional review, they’re proofreading it for you. The fact that the word review is involved doesn’t matter. It’s a slippery slope that makes murky the waters of publishing in the modern era.

Getting together readers to preview your book in return for reviews is a good thing. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the same thing as getting professional reviews. It’s not. Not even close.

It bothers me that the line between proofreading and getting real reviews is getting so blurred. It bothers me that new and emerging writers don’t know the difference.

By all means, get all the reviews you can on Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere else. But don’t settle for that. Don’t let anybody make you think there’s any reason you can’t get ‘real’ reviews. You can, just like any other ‘real’ author.

It takes planning and legwork to get your work out there. You don’t just write a book and sit back on your laurels because your job is done, especially if you’re a self-published author.  You don’t have a publishing house doing all the work for you. You’ve got to get out there and do it yourself.

Do the homework. Find the “real” reviewers. How? Open any book on the bestsellers list. Or, if it’s a hard cover, turn it over. You’ll find reviews from papers like the NY Times, Chicago Sun Times, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, USA Today, et al.

Contact them and find out if they require a hard copy or if they’re cool with getting an E-copy. They don’t mind giving you information as long as you call with a brief question that asks exactly what you want to know. Keep it short and to the point. Find out what they review and what they want from you. Hard copy or ebook? Press kit? Just like publishers, reviewers have submission guidelines. Familiarize yourself with them.
For example, here’s how to submit a book for review to Penguin.

When you know who takes what, write up a press kit to go with your Advance Reading Copy. There are articles about how to write up a press kit. Here’s one with a free downloadable template. But it’s usually just some basic information about your book:
Book title
Author
Genre
Estimated publication date
Brief symopsis – seriously, brief. 2 or 3 lines.
ISBN
Publisher name and contact information – if that’s you, it’s fine. Don’t embellish or lie. If you’re using Amazon, say so.
Edition and language
Number of pages/words
Projected price
Number of illustrations, if any
Trim size – this is the size of your book.
Contact name and information for your publicist – if you’re self-pubbed, list yourself.

That’s a lot of information, but don’t be overwhelmed. It’s information you’re going to need and use as you poblish anyway.

Most importantly, DON’T be impatient. Don’t get so caught up with getting your book out there that you rush to publish. Do it the way the heavy hitters do it. Be patient, do the leg work, be professional about your publishing. That’s how to get professional results.

If you just want to slap a book on Amazon and call it a day, that’s cool. But if you want to take it to the next level, if you want to be a professional writer, put in the work.

One important thing to consider is this: The more proofreaders you have, the more people are reading your hard work for free. Think about that.

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NOprah 2020

When I first heard that Oprah was running for President in 2020, I thought it was a joke. Now that I’m hearing that it’s seriously being discussed, I still think it’s a joke.

I don’t know when the idea of Oprah running for President became a real thing, or if it really has. There are too many variables that figure into any candidate’s eligibility to run for President. Believe it or not, there are still more factors that should be considered besides a contender’s bank account. For one, she’s not married.

There has been an unmarried POTUS before. Two of ’em, in fact. James Buchanan never married, and Grover Cleveland was unmarried when he was elected. The question is, though, if a single woman could be elected in this day and age. I don’t care one way or the other. Marital status has zilch to do with whether or not a person is qualified to do a job. But there may be those out there that might care. A lot.

Is America ready for another President that has no prior political experience? There have been a total of 5 Presidents that lacked previous political experience, including Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump. Ronald Reagan was an actor first, but he was also a governor to the state of California before he became President. He also served in the military.

That begs another question. Can there be another President in the modern era that has no military experience? There have been a surprising 15 Presidents that had no official military service under their belts. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and Donald Trump. Can we afford to have another?

George W. Bush was President when America went to war against Iraq in 2003, and he did serve as a pilot in the National Guard. But no President since has served in the Military. Not one. And America is still at war.

It is my considered opinion that a person should have served in the military in order to be qualified to be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America. The last and current guys didn’t, and it doesn’t look like we’re any closer to a resolution than we were ten years ago. That needs to change.

I don’t care what color Oprah is, though It’s possible (probable?) that my lack of support for her would be attributed to racism – a term I find to be the most overly used inaccurate word in the history of the language. We’re all one race: human. The sooner we all realize that and pull together, the better the world will be for it.

I don’t care that Oprah’s a woman. There’s no reason whatsoever that a woman couldn’t do the job, as long as it’s a woman that’s qualified for it.

In fact, before a couple of hours ago, there’s even a chance that I might have overlooked her lack of political and military experience, to see where Oprah stands on the issues. She’s such a powerful and influential person, after all. Maybe she could get some good things done for the American people, and for the whole world.

That changed when I saw this 23 seconds of video.

Anybody who can wantonly call for the death of a whole generation of people has no business being in control of the most powerful military in the world. Period.

In the past, Oprah Winfrey has definitely shut down the suggestion that she might run for President. She told the Hollywood Reporter: “I will never run for public office. That’s a pretty definitive thing.” *

I hope she meant it. I really do.  Oprah v Trump is not a ticket I want to have to vote on.

Seriously. I’d rather sit through all three Twilight Movies, both 50 shades films and I, Tonya. And the chances of that happening are right up there with pigs flying.

* The Washington Examiner