[Note: For purposes of full disclosure, remember, my novel “Agony of the Gods” has been published by Bookkus.]
For the new writer, Bookkus is another option to consider. Basically, Bookkus is a hybrid. It’s a publishing house, not a workshop like Book Country, but instead of the legendary “bored intern” reading your submission, it’s posted to the website and open to be read, and reviewed, by the general public, kind of like Wattpad, or maybe the reviews on Goodreads. So, while there’s still a pretty good chance your book will get declined for publication, at least you get the benefit of finding out what people didn’t like about it – which, of course, gives you things to think about as you revise the ms.
What this all means is that you should approach Bookkus the way you would (hopefully) approach any other publisher – by submitting a well-polished work. Anything that smacks of being close to a first draft will get the same reviews from a general reader as it would from the “bored intern.” Be practical! Think of it this way: if you were trying to sell your car, you’d want to make sure the body gleams, it’s clean inside, and it starts right up when you turn the key – right? If you went to look at a used car and it was filthy with stains and tears on the seats and interior walls, and you had to crank the engine a while to get it to turn over – would you buy it? Would you give it a second thought? Well, that’s what your ms. is like if it’s got numerous typos, grammatical errors, etc. Most readers won’t bother continuing beyond about five pages.
If the ms. is clean as far as the things I just mentioned, then you get people reading it a lot further. What happens now? Well this is where your novel starts to get reviews based on content. Does the plot make sense? Did it carry me along, or was I sleeping by page 6? Are the characters interesting and likeable (assuming they’re supposed to be). Again, this is the kind of feedback you hope for.
Bookkus usually hopes for a few more than 10 reviews in order to make a decision. You might think that 10 reviews is easy, but it’s not. If a novel is really poorly written many people just stop reading and move on (that’s another thing to consider – if you’re not serious enough to edit your work and polish it, why would anyone bother to take the time to review it?). The average rating out of 5 stars has to be at least 3.5 (making it better than average). If you get that (10 reviews with a 3.5/5 average rating), then it goes into the discussion phase.
The discussion phase is where Bookkus asks the reviewers to discuss whether or not the work is actually publishable. You might wonder why this is necessary since they’ve already reviewed the book. It’s important to remember that these folks are not professional reviewers. Sometimes you kind of like the story, but the writing is awful. Other times the writing is good, but the story sucks, or you’re really not all that interested in the genre. In cases like this non-professional reviewers tend to be kind and give the book 3.5 or 4 stars. However, when asked if the novel is ready for publishing they hedge. “Well, if the writing were improved…,” or “If the story were tightened up…”, etc. And of course the real tough questions is: “Would you pay to read this book?” I’ve been involved in a few of these discussions (not including for my own book, the author is locked out on that), and this is where those with strong feelings pro- or con- really get involved, while those that are kind of on the fence just hang back. The fact that the novels Bookkus has published so far had close to unanimous support says a lot.
Let me finish by emphasizing one thing. A well polished ms. does not mean a perfect ms. Bookkus allows for the fact that it is getting submissions from first time writers. You will get the support of both a content editor and a line editor if your book is chosen for publication.
I’ll pick that up later under “What’s it Like to Write a book?”