Aestheticism and Reputation

Recently, a wonderful blogger I have met sent me an email regarding a website she had come across which was geared up to be like my site. But something didn’t seem right, and she asked me to take a look.
First off, let me say, there are several sites like mine out there, and I have submitted my book to two of them, so I do look at other sites objectively, because first and foremost, I am a writer always seeking out publicity. So I took a gander at the site she mentioned and was immediately turned off by it. The set-up was horrific, the margins were all wrong and half the text traveled off to the side of the screen into the black border, which meant I couldn’t read half of what was on there. The part of the text I could read was all shifted to the left and staggard like poetry or free form paragraphing, and it was obvious this wasn’t done to be artistic or poetic.
The next big issue I noticed was the infinite scrolling to find a book, and I mean infinite. The page went down forever and there was no real way to search for an author or book. Then the authors of the page boasted over helping the self-published authors and great books promote, which is all good, BUT, not all the books were self-published and for the most part it was clear they posted anything sent their way, and there was no clear concise formatting. The page looked thrown together and haphazardly to say the absolute least.
Without giving my opinioon of the page, I had another author friend look at the site along with Daniel at Blackbird LSD since he deals with promotion and publicity of authors. I take the opinions of these two people to be very valuable. They said the exact samething as I did, and I asked if either would publish a work there since it was in fact free promotion. Both answered with a resolute, “No.”
Why? To paraphrase both people, “It looks cheesy, sloppy, and I wouldn’t want to promote myself or another author on something like that.” But there were at least fifty books on there.   Okay, that was the gist of the thoughts. The author then said this, “you work hard at creating a quality book. Blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, and many times financial loss. Why would you put your baby up on something that doesn’t give the aestheticism you strived so hard to achieve?” I had to stand back and think about that.
Here’s what I concluded: If you are selling a product like a fine piece of art, you wouldn’t stick it on the side of a garbage can to show it off. You wouldn’t get your nails professionally polished over grungy, dirty nails, right? And if you were trying to sell your car, would you post a picture of it in front of a beautiful marina or infront of the city dump? It’s all about aesthics and how the work is presented. So why, as authors, do we feel it is okay to publish the fruit of our labor up on anything that says “FREE?” Shouldn’t we be choosey as well?
It took months of working on my website before I put it up for the world to see. In fact, it was supposed to go live 12/21/12, but because it wasn’t just right, I pushed back the date. When people link into my site to showcase their quality book, I wuld like other viewers to have a positive first impression not only for my self-satisfaction, but so they will tell others, and so authors can feel proud to be there. Then again, that may just be me, and maybe my priorities are all screwy. But, when I choose to publcize my book on another site, I want it to be a quality site free or not. Yes free is great, but not at the cost of my reputation. Or is this just me? Would you put your book up on a site that is poorly set-up, maintained, and neglected simply because it is free? Honest answers always appreciated.

Tania L Ramos


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