Posted September 23, 2013 by in What's New in Publishing?

Book Country: A Review


Book Country (BC) is a meeting place for aspiring authors to meet and exchange notes.  It is yet another writing community where writers can get feedback on their work, comment and review others work, learn about publishing, build a following, and also self-publish their books.

You can post your work on the site and receive feedback. Use the feedback to create a new draft and then re-post. You can also take advantage of the forums to learn more about writing and publishing.

My brother recently told me about Book Country and how this would affect me at Bookkus Publishing. You can take a listen to the interview On the Media from NPR here.

The Review

I agree with most things the narrator of the interview talked about. Book Country can, if used correctly, function like an MFA program for free. It is also a free gallery to expose your work to other authors, writers, publishers, and readers. This can help build a following when you are ready to publish or self-publish. It’s huge user base allows you to get a few reviews, revise and re-post your work. I think for new writers Book Country is pretty good. It provides you with the basic tools of building your writing skills and finding an audience. If you are a full-time writer it can be used as an MFA program where you post many pieces of work quickly and in a row (not that many people will do that). The quality of the feedback of course depends on who is reviewing the work. With 10,000 users and an average comment rate for a good story of 5-6 reviews will you really get quality feedback or will you just take what you want to hear and make changes that you feel fit.

Book Country was setup by Penguin-a nice big name to have your story under. They created BC to make money and find good stories to publish. Recently, they launched their self-publishing platform through the service, which isn’t bad since running a website costs money and they should try to recoup some of it. The platform is good and bad. The publishing service helps with manuscript formatting, distribution, cover art, limited promotional tools, and line editing. Book country is good for self-publishing, as it helps with formatting and finding the first audience.  I think, though, that the hardest points of publishing is the editing and the marketing. The main marketing through the posting of stories and getting feedback is really great, but they don’t include editing in the packages offered really hurts. These are what stands publishers apart these days: a quality marketing program and a quality edit.

I read this review from Paid Content and agreed with a lot it said about the self-publishing complaints (despite it being a little dated).  I think high prices and vanity press really stuck in my mind after reviewing there services. Putting a big name behind a self-publishing platform doesn’t guarantee it will make a good book. In fact it may mean they don’t focus enough on your book and plan to let quality slide for brand name appeal. They take an ongoing fee for publishing (unless you take the big self-publishing package which is affordable). They will continually take 15% of your earnings which is pretty steep for not doing any marketing and no editing. The editing is quite expensive as well. Line editing costs $0.023 per word. Times that by 100,000 and you get $2300 for only line editing. Although Book Country community itself should take care of the developmental editing, it would still be nice if there was an option. The prices vary from $0 to $399 for their packages which isn’t outrageous, but marketing is one of the hardest parts and if you only receive Book Stubs (book coupons?) then it may not help much being with them besides having their nice Pe nguin name on your book and the ability to start a following (which is free anyway). The two biggest things a publisher can do for an author is good editing (developmental, line, and copy) and marketing. That’s why people choose publishers today. In the past they chose them for paying printing costs. Now it is different.

I think book country is okay and bad. I think it is good for authors to work together to improve their work and learn to write better. There is nothing wrong with this and they do a good job of it. The question then becomes is it better than what is available or just on the same level? If you take a look at a site like Scribophile and then Book Country you can see that one may be better than the other. Even some of the less specialized writers’ forums have some similar or same benefits that Book Country has.

I think it would be best to go there for the editing and leave for the self-publishing. In fact I would spread my book out at Book Country, Authonomy, My Writers Circle, a few chapters at Wattpad, Scribophile, Absolute Write forums, and anywhere else offering a review to help build my audience. Then I would spend the money on editing, because it is better to spend some good money making sure your product is quality before putting it out there and getting bad reviews. There are good self-publishing platforms and people willing to do quality work for cheap in regards to formatting and marketing. Just look around and put some projects on elance.com or guru.com to see what is available.

What do you think?

Is Book Country better than other websites currently available? How would you compare book country to Authonomy? Scribophile? Bookkus? or some of the less specialized writers’s forums  (My Writer’s Circle, Absolute Write)?

William Y.

Marketing manager, editor, and author. I am a bookkaholic who stays up into dawn reading, wakes up groggy and grabs another book to make myself feel human again. I am an avid outdoors-man, but find myself behind a computer more than outdoors these days. I try not to tell many people this, but I really liked the Star Wars book series... Check out all my articles.