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Rave Rejections (continued)
by J.R. Lankford

One morning I remembered something. Raving and rejecting editors weren't the only ones who'd read my book. Thirty-one regular people had and they'd described it as: "a great roller coaster," "a damn fine read," "pulse pounding," "utterly engrossing...as dandy a thriller as I've read anywhere."

They were the kind of people who actually bought mystery/thrillers. Were they 31 exceptions, or the tip of an unseen market for my writing?

I had an idea. Wouldn't it be nice if publishers could have foreseen--with the click of a mouse-- the reader interest in John Grisham's novels, for instance. They might not have rejected him at first. Also Tom Clancy, Norman Mailer, Pearl Buck, Mary Higgins Clark, Alex Haley, Louis L'Amour and so forth!

Yes, rejections--sometimes rave rejections--are normal for new authors, even good ones. Today it just happens to be a little worse. But what if readers could have a say?

I went outside and told my husband. Immediately he stopped waxing the car. For the next three days we hardly slept, constructing a Website where readers--hopefully, lots of readers--could come. It's called thecrowningcircle.com and, to my knowledge, is the first of its kind. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 9 of "The Crowning Circle" are on it, but that's not all. There's a voting page, which--to keep things honest--allows each visitor only one vote. It asks a single question: Would you buy this novel if it were in print?

So far there have been just over 200 visitors. Roughly 60 percent are saying yes, they would buy. Sixteen percent are saying maybe. Wonderful percentages, given that nowhere close to 60 percent of the public buys even the most successful book!

But 200 isn't considered a statistically significant sample. One thousand is. Maybe 500. If that many come and the results remain favorable, I believe "The Crowning Circle" may be given a second chance. If not, my husband and I are decided. We'll publish it ourselves.

It can be expensive to self-publish. It takes time to promote a self-published novel--time most authors want to spend writing their next book.

Others might like to try polling first, I thought, if our Website produces good results. We could erect another site. Keep the size small and quality high. Readers could sample and vote on maybe a half-dozen good novels at a time. We could call it something like NovelPoll. Ask: Would you buy these novels if they were in print? With the click of a mouse, publishers could gauge reader interest, reducing the risk of trying a new author. Authors considering self-publishing could gauge interest, too. It would be the first of its kind. It might help keep fiction going until baby boomers retire and go back to reading books!

That's just what I'll do if polling saves "The Crowning Circle." Through NovelPoll, I'll offer rave-rejected authors like me a second chance.

J.R. Lankford, founder and administrator of the online fiction writing workshop NovelDoc, says her new creation, NovelPoll, is designed to bring good novels to the attention of online readers who, if they like what they see, can help get the authors' careers rolling.

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