Two stars and one wish might be all it takes for the birdman to fly.
I’m an amateur writer trying to publish my debut novel at a slightly challenging time. COVID-19 seems to have turned our lives upside down in so many ways. The last thing a publisher wants to do during economic uncertainty and pandemic shock is take a punt on an unknown writer.
Yet here I am with this manuscript of my fictional novel, How the Birdman Learnt to Fly. It is inspired by my father’s battle with mental incapacity, ageing with dignity and the experiences of Italian migrants coming to Australia after World War II, particularly working on the Snowy Mountains scheme.
I’d love to share my novel with people all over Australia to see what they think. I’m hopeful you’re looking for something to read in this time of physical distancing and isolation. You might just be willing to give a few hours of your life to read a free (nearly finished) book. With all our lives moving online, it feels like the right time to try something like this.
All I ask in return is that you give me feedback in the form of two stars and one wish. That just means providing me with two pieces of positive feedback, and one thing you would change in the novel.
If you’re interested, just email me at email@example.com with your preferred e-book format and I’ll send you a copy.
Frequently Asked Questions
So what’s this book about?
How the Birdman Learnt to Fly is the story of Dom Divello, who learned the tough lessons of multiculturalism growing up on the Snowy Mountains scheme, before becoming an advocate for other immigrants and disadvantaged workers as a union official. Now in the twilight of his life, Dom is determined to overcome a recent stroke and his son’s attempts to place him in care to achieve one final victory – dress up in an embarrassing costume and plunge into the icy depths of Lake Burley Griffin in the annual Birdman Rally.
What’s this two stars and one wish thing, sounds like a scam?
Two stars and one wish is a feedback technique. Stars are pieces of positive feedback while your wish is the most important thing you would change. There’s no hidden agenda here. You get a free book, and I receive feedback on my novel to improve it. There is no need to write a novel of your own – a sentence will suffice!
Will I like your book?
Well, that probably all depends on the sort of book you like. How the Birdman Learnt to Fly is a cross between Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta and A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman, exploring the experiences of an older Italian-Australian.
If you’re interested in how multiculturalism has developed, and arguably become stifled in Australia in recent times, you may enjoy the themes. Older readers have also commented about how the main character’s reflections on his life resonate with them. And the story may appeal to Australians who have direct family connections to the Snowy Mountains scheme and an interest in the largest engineering project achieved in Australia.
What age is your book aimed at?
The novel is pitched at an adult audience, but would suit anyone over the age of 16.
How long does my feedback need to be?
I’ll take anything you’re willing to give – whether it’s written, audio, video or via interpretative dance!
Are you going to charge me?
The draft book is yours for free, on the basis you promise to not pass it on to anyone else.
Why are you giving away your book for free?
Because I would love your feedback, and as much as I’d love to shout you a coffee, beer or wine for a chat over a drink, that’s not possible at the moment.
If I give you feedback will I get credited as a co-author?
While I really appreciate the help anyone is willing to give, this will still be my novel. I’ll make the final decisions on how it is written and retain copyright in the work at all times.
Can my book club read your book?
Yes please! I would really appreciate any and all feedback from book clubs, including combined feedback if you decide to debate your feelings over zoom and a wine. You could record it and send it to me!
What are you going to do with my feedback?
I will seriously consider everything you have to say and likely make some changes to the manuscript. I know the book isn’t perfect, but want to make it the best manuscript I can be.
Will you credit my feedback if you use it?
Absolutely. Everyone who provides feedback will be publicly thanked.
Can I pass your book onto friends?
I am keen for as much feedback as possible, but equally don’t want to release the novel into the big wide world until it is finished. I’m aiming for 100 people to give feedback from across Australia. So I ask that draft manuscripts are not distributed without my express permission beyond those chosen to provide feedback. Tell you friends to get in touch with me if they’re interested in reading the book.
What if I know a publisher who may be interested?
I love any introductions to publishers interested in the story.
Will the book always be free?
No, I’m hoping that eventually the book will be released commercially.
What length is the book?
The book is a fairly standard novel size at 100,000 words.
Birdman photo Courtesy ACT Heritage Library, Canberra Times Collection, Photographer Peter Wells. See http://www.images.act.gov.au/