A lot of writer pals said they were going to “follow closely” my journey with Booktrope. From the minute I was accepted there, I was told, “I’m curious to see how this unfolds for you.” And, I promised that I would relay back to everyone how it was going once I reached the one year mark, and this is where I am now. So, here are the pros and cons, and here is how my experience has been:
PRO: Booktrope is NOT self-publishing. CON: I made more with my self-published book on Kindle this year, like 200 times as much, with a fraction of the marketing and no team behind me.
PRO: Booktrope is NOT self-publishing CON: You still have to do most of the work yourself, without an advance (just as with self-publishing), and you’re just as tired at the end of the day.
PRO: If you’re a decent writer, Booktrope will give your book a chance. CON: If you’re a crappy writer, Booktrope will give your book a chance.
PRO: Booktrope is a family. CON: Booktrope is a family, but sometimes, you really just need them to be a publisher.
PRO: Booktrope is a nice place for your book to find new life or get its first legs. If you find a supportive team there, it can do a world of good for your tender writer skin. CON: I don’t have tender writer skin, so sometimes I don’t need all the instruction that, say, a new writer would. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, but I still get loads of info and instruction from the community that I really don’t always need.
PRO: I’ve made awesome friends! On great Facebook days, it’s like I’m at the world’s best writer’s conference. CON: I want to move past the conference.
PRO: I’ve sold eight books since March 12th. CON: I’ve sold eight books since March 12th, and yet, my Book Manager works her butt off to sell my book.
PRO: My Book Manager works her butt off to sell my book by getting me a ton of great reviews from wonderful book bloggers and reviewers. CON: All the book bloggers and reviewers get a free copy of my book, so…I’ve only sold eight books since March 12th.
PRO: If you have a day job, Booktrope is one of the best publishing options on the market today! CON: If your day job is writing novels, you will have to get another job if you are writing for Booktrope. Thankfully, my day job is as a writer, so I write copy and get paid. I write for Booktrope, and get reviews on Amazon.
NOTE: My experience is very similar to the vast majority of writers at Booktrope. It’s not remotely unique, and if anyone tells you it is, just smile and nod your head like you can’t understand what language they are speaking. I market, and know how to do it very well. My book is not being ignored, because it’s crap. It’s being ignored, because its only marketing platform is Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Like I said, my self-published book has far outsold it – over a 1,000 copies since the end of November 2014, and with a lot less social media effort. In one week, alone, I sold 500 copies, because Kindle featured it and people liked it. I never even Tweeted or shared on Facebook that my novel was featured. I just sat back and watched what would happen, because I wrote that book, because it needed to be written. The money was never expected from it. Still, it came.
I receive emails every week, or so, from a stranger telling me that they have now become a reader of my self-published book, and that it spoke to them. But I haven’t gotten anything like that from more than three paying readers on my Booktrope novel. I get paid to market for all kinds of people and businesses, and I do it quite successfully, so it’s not that I can’t and don’t market my work. Social media is just not the best way to sell all novels, and it is definitely not the ONLY way to sell them, but this is pretty much how Booktrope sells books, and you enter the game knowing that. Also, don’t believe anyone who tells you that they had no idea this was how their book was going to be marketed, because you sign a contract, and you are well informed of this fact. If you’re a writer at Booktrope, you know exactly how your work is going to be marketed. For me, personally, the only “what if” I had was, “what if social media really sells books?!” It doesn’t sell a lot, not in most cases. There are always exceptions. I can’t think of too many. But like all my writer pals who said they wanted to see how everything would unfold here, I wanted to see it, too, and now I have. And I like Booktrope. They’re a gift if you don’t need money, and I’ve known one or two people in my life that really don’t. Unfortunately, they’ve never been writers.
Booktrope is a wonderful online community that verbally values its writers. The staff offer endless “you can do it!” support and advice and constantly repeats the encouraging mantra, “Go write more books!” This is great, and I love all the connections I’ve made there. But I’ve had to go back to writing copy part-time in order to pay my bills. That was sort of depressing. I had this idea that, maybe, I’d make a couple hundred bucks a month writing stories. Not with Booktrope. I don’t work full-time. I have a neuromuscular disease, four children, and a few fat dogs and cats, so I don’t have time for all that. But I do have time to write this blog post for those who wanted to know how my Booktrope experience has been after a year of working with them. It’s been pretty good. I can’t complain about anything but money, because Booktrope doesn’t claim to be anything it isn’t. It not a mega publisher that will make all your wildest literary dreams come true, and newsflash! Such publishers do not now, and have never, existed. A writer has to make their own success just like all other hot blooded Americans. What Booktrope does claim is to offer a technical platform for writers, so they can have their books professionally published, designed, edited, and marketed through social media for free. With a good team, you get that.