My Book Country story actually goes back to when I was a teenager. My father works at Random House, currently as a divisional sales manager, formerly as a sales representative in the Midwest. I first met Colleen Lindsay, the Community Manager for Book Country, through my father and his work at Random House.
Since I started getting really serious about writing, I looked her up again and started following her social media efforts. We ran into one another at my first BEA in 2009, and stayed in touch here and there since.
Going into Book Country, I was already a little of an insider, with a personal connection to one of the staff. I also made an effort to stop by the Book Country booth each day during Book Expo last year, to chat and have a break from work but also to meet everyone and make connections.
In my first few months on Book Country, I tried to be very active, starting a lot of discussions and trying to post widely. I found myself gravitating to the ‘getting an agent’ portion of the discussions, since I was neck-deep in querying for Shield & Crocus.
I think that being a beta user, being active at the beginning, and focusing my efforts in one area all helped my exposure to other users. I also agreed to do an interview with Dana Kaye, Book Country’s publicist, as a part of their efforts to get regional media attention for Book Country and their authors. That interview hasn’t lead to any other media hits, but it was good practice for me and showed my investment in Book Country – I really believe in what they’re trying to do, and I think we’re already seeing the results it can bring, with fellow betafish (beta user) Kerry Schaefer getting a two-book deal with Berkeley: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/kerry-schafer-lands-book-countrys-first-deal_b45120
The first project I posted was my New Weird Superhero novel Shield & Crocus, which I’ve had on the market for a year and a half or so, querying agents.
Last December, after finishing the first draft of Geekomancy, I decided to put the whole revision process on Book Country, uploading the first five chapters of my initial draft and intending to update it as I went. It’d give me a larger feedback community during the revisions, and it seemed like a cool thing to try.
There are two big things that I think helped draw attention to Geekomancy in specific. The first was when the Book Country Editorial Coordinator, Danielle Poiesz, followed my book — I know at least I will scour her ‘following’ list to get a sense of what projects might be worth reading, so I bet others do as well.
The other one was that one user, after reading and reviewing Geekomancy, went onto a thread of ‘recommend other people’s projects on Book Country’ thread and gave a strong recommendation.
I can’t be sure what factors exactly lead the editors to look at my project in specific, but those are what I can point to as possibilities, for anyone playing at home and considering participating in Book Country themselves. I had fairly positive thoughts about it before this last run of excitement, since it can be helpful to get reviews from people you don’t know, some of the discussions are enlightening, and the staff brings in professionals to do articles and twitter chats on a regular basis.
This week, I got not one but two manuscript requests for Geekomancy, both from editors at major houses. They’d found the first five chapters of the rough draft that I’d posted on Book Country (totaling about 17K words) and asked to see the rest. I was floored, and sent each notes that I was happy to submit the full manuscript but that it was quite rough and I was in the middle of revisions. Each of them opted to read the as-is version rather than waiting for revisions (as I offered to submit more polished versions later).
That has gotten a lot of attention from my writer friends, and several have asked to hear more about Book Country, hence this post. If you have any other questions about Book Country I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
RJ Blain, another Book Country betafish, posted a really good beginner’s guide to Book Country, which I will shamelessly link to now: http://rebeccablain.com/2011/12/14/on-book-country-user-guide-information/