Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ultimate in Niche Marketing

I know this is technically old news but I only came across it today. Cameron Kelly produced book through Lulu called "50 Reasons Why You Should Marry Me ... And 51 Reasons Why I Should Marry You." Apparently the answer was: yes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where do you buy/sell self-POD books?

Now, I must confess that these days I get most of my self-POD books via review copies. Other than that it would be a rough three-way split between Lulu (ebooks) and hard copies from and bookstores (local authors for the most part, presumably). I would love to hear the main sales form/venue authors are exploiting and readers are using. Do tell!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The 4 Qualities of Good POD Cover Art

I am going to use as an example the cover of a book I received a few days ago and it is killing me that I can't read it yet. I have other books I promised to look at first and a lot of other stuff on my plate just now. And it isn't just that I have enjoyed this author's previous work, it is this cover:

So, here the are, Emily's handy dandy 4 Qualities of Good POD Cover Art.

1) Good POD cover art looks like someone has spent a good long time getting the cover just right. If an author is particular about the cover art there is a good chance they made the effort to prepare their manuscript in a professional manner rather than running a first draft off with a stock cover and releasing it. Even if I don't like the art, there are points for effort.

2) Good POD cover art is pleasing in appearance. It uses a balanced composition, a clear font and an appropriate color palette. The image shown is not amateurish in that 'made by my cousin Bob who loves Poser' way. Any artwork or photographs used were created by someone with talent. Many people can write well but have no taste when it comes to visual arts--these people should get help with their covers!

3) Good POD cover art begs a question. You don't just look at and think 'okay, pretty.' You look at it and the art itself poses a question to which you immediately want to know the answer. This is a great general rule for any illustration, in good illustrations there is a feeling of a story going on right there in the picture. And don't tell me that a Japanese archer in antiquated dress with some kind of serious automatic weapon doesn't make you go "hmmmm".

4) Good POD cover art intrigues, but also suggests. You should have an immediate feeling about the potential content of the book. So far I am thinking slip stream, I am thinking Japan, I am thinking the potential of some kind of conflict... I am anticipating finding out how the prose will match the expectations set up by the cover.

In short, all I have seen so far is the cover and I've already been thinking about this book on and off for days. Now that's a cover.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

'The Pleasure Palace' by Sara Winters [ADULT]

Title: The Pleasure Palace
Author: Sara Winters
Price: $9.99
Genre: Erotica
ISBN: n/a
Publisher: Inky Blue Allusions/Lulu Press
Point of Sale: Lulu

The Pleasure Palace is a pleasant, playful sort of erotic story. We are introduced to a hotel that specialises in some extra sexual services for its guests. The main characters are three of the staff in an interesting sort of love triangle and a married couple checking in for the first time. The sexual scenarios are fun; they are brief but varied like a 'sampler' of some of the more intriguing combinations and practices available to the characters. Some of the hotel's features, like the elevators with extra buttons to suit exhibitionists or just couples after a novel souvenir, are amusing.

The presentation is adequate but a stock cover on the version I reviewed, minor proofreading errors and the whitespace created by spreading just over 20,000 words over more than 80 pages is somewhat distracting. I see the currently advertised version has a new and much improved cover art (shown right). For a novella of this length I would consider $9.99 a tad steep.

I would certainly recommend this author for a sexy daydream material but the sexual scenarios are too brief to be what I would, with necessary crudeness, call "stroke" material. The characters are believable; the plotting is adequate but not complex.

RATING: 5/10

Friday, May 25, 2007

Looking Forward to the Weekend

It has been a while since I personally posted a review. I am currently job hunting and awaiting the verdict on my application for an H1 visa to stay here in the US. Today I will also deliver the manuscript of my third novel 'Father of Dragons' to Samhain Press (I have also written 10 novellas, my love for that length is one reason for my preference for e-publishing). I still have 30 pages to proofread before firing it off to my editor as promised. So of course I am currently across town in a cafe having latte and quiche and typing on my laptop like an uber-nerd. But that book will be sent in before I sleep tonight! Then I will have a virtual pile of great ebooks and a long weekend ahead of me... so expect some new reviews soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

For Authors: A Guide to Networking with the Peeps

First, let's keep this real. This blog is a happy little endeavour... but not the New York Times. Six people are subscribed to the feedburner feed and about forty unique users visit each day.

Nevertheless, some authors out there like to pop by the blog, and in the back of their mind they want to say either (to the reviewers) REVIEW MY BOOK! or (to our blog readers) BUY MY BOOK! Which I understand. I do. Actually, that is what we are here to do, but there are ways and there are ways. The primary goal is to get a review. This is what to do.

This is Good:

* Let's say I have read one of your books in the past. I have emailed you directly about this book which suggests a significant personal interest in your work. I have recommended this book to others. I really liked this book. Let's say you have written another book that you think is even better. Yes, you should email and tell me, this is something I want to know. Yes, you should offer to send me a review copy. This will make me very happy.

* Let's say on the other hand that you have had no direct contact with any of our reviewers and you want to send a review copy. Well, we are open to paperback submissions only at this time. You might submit a paperback. You might wait for ebooks submissions to reopen. You might send a short query email giving us some reason why we might look at your ebook outside of normal submission periods--for example by looking through the blog to see if your genre is of particular interest to one of our reviewers (hint: gay fiction, sci fi, poetry, western, romance) or make the case that your book is of particular interest for some other reason (e.g. award winning or very timely) or remind us that we like you (reviewed your previous work positively, have seen you around the blog). However, do not expect that we will necessarily jump at the offer. That isn't personal, like you we keep pretty busy so we are sure you will understand. We attempt to reply to all emails ("we" in this case being Dawno) but sometimes this is not possible or there is a delay.

* Let's say you sent us your book and haven't heard anything for over a month. You should feel free to check on the status of your book. Just email.

* If you have had a book reviewed here you might want to post a comment to it. You might want to link back to it. You might want to comment on other posts and generally stay in touch. When it comes to 'off season' queries this will dispose us to being helpful. We appreciate our regulars.

This is Not Good:

Please do not...

* Comment on the blog with some brief, generic praise of the site and then link to your book. We are here to provide reviews not spam opportunities.

* Submit an unsolicited ebook. (If you really want to you may query, a query is an email attempting to solicit our interest to which the book itself is not attached.)

* Subscribe me to your newsletter to announced all your future works, reviews, thoughts and musings. Being spam-blocked means we your emails won't even get through when we reopen to submissions.

* Respond to a negative review with insults (any emotional comments will now be immediately deleted). I truly appreciate corrections of fact, typographical errors etc. But the reviewer's opinion is their opinion. Whether you agree with it or not the gracious thing to do is thank them for their time, or remain silent. Please don't comment while annoyed, sleep on it and think about it first. If you have a lapse of this etiquette and did not subsequently apologise please do not submit future works to us.

...and finally

Thank you to the over forty authors who have allowed us to read their work. We do this because we want to support writers and we enjoy good books. I have been gratified and honored to have the opportunity to read the books submitted to POD People over the last 16 months.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

'The Holmes and Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium: The Case of the Witch's Talisman' by Elmore Hammes

Posted for Pamela:

Title: The Holmes and Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium: The Case of the Witch's Talisman
Author: Elmore Hammes
Price: $21.95, hardback; $14.49, paperback
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Children's
ISBN: 978-0-6151-3949-4
Publisher: Kanapolis Fog Publishing Emporium/Lulu Press
Point of Sale: Lulu

In a time long ago, a wizard holds in his hands the life of an evil witch. Before his chant to banish her forever completes, she escapes. Present day, two children stumble upon an amulet lying by a creek. One scrapes her knee on the metal disk, depositing just enough blood to form a link between her and the amulet. The amulet, or talisman, links to another so evil that even small animals and children are in danger.

Kevin Williams and Ginny Davis are best friends. At twelve years old, they still partake in imaginative adventures brought about by summer, free of school assignments and curfews. With a tree house serving as their home base, Kevin and Ginny store treasures there, discovered during their journeys, then logging daily those items while noting their experiences into a journal. On one such adventure, they discover a dead squirrel. Intent on burying it they locate a box only to find it gone when they return – vanished. Searching for it, they come across Mrs. Crabapple accusing them of putting a dead rabbit in her yard. With the animal in the box, Kevin and Ginny head towards Sharper’s Woods to bury it. While digging its tiny grave, the rabbit disappears too. Puzzled, the kids decide to unravel their first summer mystery as Holmes and Watson.

Even with its lengthy title, “The Holmes and Watson Mysterious Events and Objects Consortium: The Case of the Witch's Talisman” is a memorable story, captivating young readers with the misguided adventures of two pre-teens. When not sorting out a mystery or following the trail of a new discovery, Kevin and Ginny encounter normal childhood trials: dodging town bullies, not fitting in, and the onset of puberty that incites an attraction towards the opposite sex, which even best friends cannot deny.

Boys within Kevin’s age group view him as weak, preferring books over sports. However, he does show that being book smart has advantages as he can sink a basketball ten times in a row. His repeating the exact same throw, each time guarantees success; also, his father is a Physics teacher. Ginny refuses to submit to the torment that her friend tolerates. Standing her ground with firm conviction to treat her fairly or suffer her wrath, reason why the boys refrain from tormenting Kevin when Ginny is in his company.

Their friendship is based on honesty and compassion, forming a strong bond between the two adolescences. However, throughout the story Kevin and Ginny wrestle with their growing attraction towards one another. Confused by the changing direction of their friendship and teasing from their parents only fuels their unease.

The dialog and story line is simple, though the suspenseful mystery makes for an engrossing read, even for someone in their forties – like me. Mr. Hammes sends clear messages to his young readers, as one young boy voluntarily walks the elderly Mrs. Crabapple home, since it’s late at night. Another is the wholesome homes both Kevin and Ginny hail from, where parents and children equally respect one another. Although, Kevin’s mother is absent throughout this story.

At every turn, Kevin and Ginny find mysteries in everything they do. While cleaning off their soda fight in the creek, their belongings are stolen. Digging up the lone footprint left behind, they follow the others until uncovering much of their lost items. These youngsters are quite ingenious. As they continue to look for the other missing items, someone else trails right behind them bringing danger closer and closer.


Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Share the Love

I have here beside my computer a $20 gift card good for any US Borders outlet. I would like to give this to one of our fine reviewers. All you have to do is help me choose. Please let me know of any review on this site that you found helpful, insightful or entertaining. The writer of the most frequently mentioned review will get the prize. If the winner is not in the US I will be happy to use the card to purchase books to send on to whatever part of the world they are in.

I would also like to take a moment to thank all of our reviewers for the time and effort they put into their reviews and for keeping this site going. POD People would not be here today without you all.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The POD People Want You

Spring is here, our queue is full of great books, and the POD needs some more peeps. We are now open both to ebook and paperback reading reviewers. If you would like to join up or to get some more information please email podpeep AT

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Terri Main one of several bloggers to make what continues to be an important point about self-publishing. In part:

"That brings me back to the real danger of self-publishing: poor literary quality."

"...the self-published author also needs to exercise enough patience to not go to press before the book is ready."

full article

Brought to my attention by Dusk.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Strongest Links...

I am playing around with a new webpage-making program (Adobe's GoLive) and hope to make more frequent updates to the static webpages. One new feature will be cover spots for books by the top 3 referring authors. That is, if you link to the POD People website or blog (i.e. to your review) and send us some traffic we may return the favor with a more prominent listing and link to your point of sale. The current top three can be seen on our main page and below.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

'The Map of the Known World: Tree of Life Trilogy Book 1' by Steven Smith

Title: The Map of the Known World: Tree of Life Trilogy Book 1
Author: Steven Smith
Price: $19.95, paperback; free ebook at
Genre: Sci-fi/Futuristic/Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-84728-422-8, paperback
Publisher: Lulu Press
Point of Sale: Lulu

An adventurous story about a teenage orphan burdened with getting the “Map of the Known World” safely to the Illuminati. The young girl’s journey is long, taking her across land, sea and mountain. At the same time, she dodges Redeemers wanting the map; minions belonging to Prester John, ruler of the Known World and head Patriarch of the Mother Church. Aiding her quest are pixies, barbegs and other fey folk as she battles against spriggans, Lantern men, man-eating merpeople, and other sea monsters. Tested time after time is her courage and self-belief. Still, can a fourteen-year-old child handle a task where many adults failed?

Built into the Ulmeria Mountains, the Ulsacro palace has housed five centuries of Patriarch’s. Today, Prester John holds that position exerting a sinister command that places fear instead of reverence into the hearts of his people. However, he still shares that power with the rebellious Illuminati, having not crushed their influence…yet. Possessing the map will place Prester John as supreme ruler over the entire world. He commands the Redeemers to exterminate anyone who comes into contact with map, but without fail return with the artifact.

Elowen, an orphan since birth, bears severe treatment by the orphanage Master and her fellow orphans. Told daily how useless she is maligns her esteem and sense of worthiness. Through books and tales shared with her one friend, Uther, Elowen imagines wonderful adventures outside the orphanage. Her chance meeting with the town jokester makes those fantasies real.

Tom Hickathrift hides behind a fa├žade of peculiarity while living in an abandon watchtower. His spirited though pleasant demeanor contrasts against the town’s gloom. His befriending Elowen intended, as destiny ordained it since her birth. Tom explains the purpose of the Holy Null, where all fifteen-year-old children must partake. Cold iron embedded into the right brow allows Prester John and his Redeemers to track and control the people he rules; keeps any insurgents from rising against him. Elowen continues to visit Tom every night, regaling her with old tales. On one such visit, she meets Vortigern, an Illuminati who escapes the Redeemers to bring Tom the Map of the Known World. Before they can fully tell their tale, the Redeemers storm the watchtower. As Tom and Vortigern battle the enemy, Elowen escapes with the map entrusted to deliver it to the Illuminati sanctuary. She must reach the town, Prevennis as soon as possible, for its King knows the location of the sanctuary.

Having stayed up until one in the morning to finish reading it, “The Map of the Known World: Tree of Life Trilogy Book 1” is an exciting novel. With a pixie, Bucca guiding her through the forest, she stumbles upon her nemesis, Diggory; head boy who mercilessly harassed her at the orphanage. He tells of Redeemers removing children from their parents, beating them, and then taking them away in carriages. Escaping leaves him with nowhere else to go so he joins her quest. Together they defeat spriggans only to later fall prey to Malengin, resident of the Island of Ictis. Staying on the island beyond the two days intended Elowen and Diggory soon realize they are to be sacrificed to the merpeople. Ictis King Nadelek contracted to feed humans to the sea beasts, in exchange for protection from the Redeemers. Nonetheless, Diggory and Elowen escape from the island only to experience more peril as their journey to Prevennis continues.

Another suspenseful high point is the fall of Prevennis. The Hammersund castle is impenetrable, but the King’s oldest son, the heir apparent, sides with Prester John. Bringing down the only man who knows where the Illuminati haven is located. With the execution of King Olaf, his younger son, Bo escapes prison and bands with the barbegs in raising an army against his brother.

“Map of the Known World” is a story easily shared with pre-teens and young adults, Mr. Smith hands over fascinating characters that animate the beguiling exploits of a young girl. Yet, he masterfully weaves an intricate story basis, pulling from his active support of environmental issues and knowledge of local English folklore. Mr. Smith gives the reader rich insight into each character. Elowen’s plight inside the orphanage is tangible. Years of brutal condemnation meted by classmates, townspeople and the orphanage Master weighs heavy. Many times on the journey, self-doubt overshadows her true capabilities, but her sense of honor, especially to those she has promised, fuels her courage to move forward. With his snow-white hair and pink eyes, Bo, too, suffers the same extreme criticism from his mother and brother. His sense of honor feeds his courage, surpassing any self-doubt.

I eagerly await the next book in this trilogy, “The Ordeal of Fire”, tentatively scheduled for release December 2007.


Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

Under Review:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

...and then there were seven.

The PODlings blog is closing.

Reviews and Money--And Never the Twain.

Very few people get paid to write book reviews these days. In fact the number of print magazines that even print them regularly is declining rapidly, and many genres were never well represented. Print magazines seemed focused on high literature, something that thinks might be part of the reason for their decline. So magazines aren't paying for reviews.

Most people now write reviews for online venues which have very limited funds, if any. In fact given that most online venues cost some money to run and earn none, certain suckers who shall remain nameless effectively pay for the honor of writing book reviews. The most your average reviewer is likely to get out of the deal is some free reading. But as people who want to review books are people who like to read books this is probably fair enough. So anyway, websites aren't paying for reviews.

It was therefore probably inevitable that some review venues would try and reverse the revenue stream entirely and try to charge the authors. But as far as I am concerned, no author should ever pay for a book review. A review is useful only to the extent that potential readers will heed it. Potential readers heed sources of information that are useful and impartial--one reader providing advice and recommendations to another (and yes, it is pretty easy to tell when this is no longer the case). This honesty and impartiality rather falls apart if the reviewer is taking money from the publisher or the author.

Besides, readers don't run out and buy books just because there is a review somewhere on the endless wasteless of the Internet. Very few sites have the influence to sell many books and they (with a few lamentable exceptions) do not indulge in profiteering. For the rest, avoiding a month or two delay, or even getting a review versus not getting one simply isn't worth the $10-80 they are charging. Those people that trade on their reputation to charge for reviews frankly don't have much of a reputation left. And none of these usually glowing fee-charging reviews is going to do what the author wants, sell books.

What sells books is honest reviews from influential sources. Or maybe even a few copies from less influential sources so long as the 'cost' side of the cost/benefit ratio is keep to a minimum. Readers listen to other readers who write reviews out of a enthusiasm for the genre. They listen to reviewers who read the book because they wanted to read the book.

Ergo, the more you pay, the less the review is worth. It is one of those rare cases where the best things in life are indeed free.

[Edited to Add: interesting blog post on this issue by Monica Jackson.]

Saturday, May 12, 2007

'Rebirth' by Scott McKenzie

Title: Rebirth
Author: Scott McKenzie
Price: $19.99, paperback
Genre: Horror/Paranormal
ISBN: na
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu

A well-written horror novel, “Rebirth” thrills with rapid-fire, edgy suspense, keeping the reader entranced. Mantek Pharmaceuticals is bombed, leaving two security guards and one research assistant dead. The company’s leading research science team, Dr. Owen and Dr. Forrest are missing. As clues surface the scenario becomes more opaque as twists and turns flourish when key suspects begin disappearing. More puzzling are the two groups of men battling against time to locate and apprehend the doctors, both leaving in their wake unexplainable carnage.

In a seedy motel outside of the city, Dr. Andrew Owen contemplates his role as “the savior of humanity”. Even on the run, he feels the pull of responsibility in finding a cure but right now staying alive is his primary focus. After a full night’s rest, he will get in touch with Dr. Forrest. From a deep slumber, Andrew feels tightness around his neck as a chloroform rag covers his mouth.

Agent Jane Simpson of the World Health Organization ends her vacation after receiving a call about the Mantek bombing. Her job is to track contagious diseases while finding their cure. Working closely with Dr. Owen just part of that job, helping him to contain and study a deadly blood disorder that travels freely amid the world’s population. On the scene before the police arrive affords her an opportunity to gather enough evidence without revealing all she knows to the investigating officers. Yet, the Detective assigned to the case is good… too good.

Homicide Detective Tom Ryder takes on a triple murder and bombing case, averting his much needed vacation. Being the best defines his foregoing any downtime. Arriving on the scene, he meets a W.H.O. investigator, a youthful woman who knows more then she is telling. As they begin to interview suspects, it becomes apparent to Tom that they are constantly one-step behind someone else.

Provoking more suspense, a team of elite solders, called The Brotherhood, ardently searches for the scientists. Two of their black vans pull up in front of Dr. Forrest’ home, within minutes the team is dead. In another part of the city, one more team in black vans leaves Dr. Owen’s home, after ransacking the place searching for clues to his whereabouts. That team then goes to Forrest’s home where they retrieve Dr. Owen from the enemy’s clutches. This move puts Tom and Jane on their tail, which ends with the police tactical unit massacred on the highway as The Brotherhood escapes with Dr. Owen.

The mystery deepens as the identity of The Brotherhood remains murky, and then their urgent need for Mantek’s researchers leaves the reader wondering. More importantly who is the enemy they are fighting, and why. Meanwhile, Tom becomes aware of Jane’s omission of knowledge. After leaving an autopsy, Tom intervenes on an assault against a homeless man; the attacker is Myers, the officer killed at Forrest’s home. The evidence and events begin to snap into place, but more secrets need revealed, ramping up the bloody horror in pictorial detail.

Mr. McKenzie scripts plenty of characters to keep the fast pace plot moving, sprinkling witty sarcasm to lighten the intense mood. All the while, the reader is pushed and pulled from one group of good guys to the next, leaving one speculating who can be trusted. Still who is to say which group is good and evil, as they each have their own agenda to support their cause? “Rebirth” is an energizing story that remains long after reading it.

RATING: 8/10

Lulu: 8.3


Reviewed by: In August of 2006, Pamela broke into book review writing with Erotic Escapades, but writes for The Erotic Bookworm, The Muse Book Reviews, Romance At Heart, and now POD People. Her own web site, Chewing the Bone exhibits book reviews in multilple genres, including children and young adult fiction. With all that she has going on Pamela finds time to dabble in flash-fic writing. Although, she doesn't aspire in becoming a published novelist, because it would take valuable time away from her first love... reading.

Under Review:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Slight Change of Tack....

Looking around the De Facto POD Review Blog Ring, or whaetver da hell it's called, I notice one thing. Most of us are closed to submissions. In fact limiting incoming submission is one of those eternal issues. It is sensible to narrow the focus to a certain publisher, to print copies, to certain genres, or to open to submissions only briefly... but the POD People are going to try a slightly different approach.

Perspective is important. Bloggers write from the perspectives or editors, or self-POD authors, but in many cases they try to review primarily as that most mundane and elusive of creatures, the readers. That's what I strive for anyway. I write, some of our POD People reviewers write, some self-publish, and some do neither. Strangely enough some of our reviewers are in fact only readers--a reasonable proxy for the general reading audience we all hope to reach.

The problem is that we open for submissions, we take submissions, but many of them simply sit there for months on end. Sometimes this is because we all get busy. With a single reviewer this is bound to happen, and although we have 12 reviewers normally only 2 or 3 are particularly active at any given point in time. Sometimes it is just that the book doesn't strike anyone's fancy.

As has been suggested recently by both PODler and Leo Stableford there is more to reviewing than getting a book into the hands of a reviewer. It has to be a reasonable match, you want a reviewer to be a reasonable proxy for a the kind of reader who would see your book, become intrigued and buy it.

It is a little too late to cut this long story short, but here is the point I am getting to. From now on POD People will accept submissions, will post them for six months and if they have not been selected by one of our reviewers we will then delete them. We will open submissions as required to maintain a selection of not less than 20 books for our reviewers to choose from. I apologise to those authors who will, as a result, not receive a review.

I think this is a good move for several reasons. 1) It will help us attract and retain active reviewers by offering them a changing selection. Our available book pile is starting to look a little stale and monotonous. 2) It will ensure books are read by reviewers interested by the blurb and cover--perhaps active readers of that genre, and 3) as such it will maximise the chances that a book will be read by someone able to approach it from the perspective of a genuine prospective customer.

So if we have been sitting on your book for over six months you will probably soon receive an email from Dawno (who does all the work here) with our regrets at being unable to accommodate you by providing a review. But in my opinion not every review is a good review, whether glowing or harsh you want a review written by someone who had an interest in the book going in, some who had thoughts and expectations--not someone who opened the cover with a despondant sigh and read on from a sense of duty. And on the upside we should be re-opening for submissions soon.

On a side note, our current reviewers particularly appreciate poetry, romance, historicals including westerns, gay and lesbian fiction and thrillers (add more here, guys, if I missed any). We would like to hear from prospective reviewers interested in paranormal and fantasy, young adult, contemporary/mainstream, anthologies and non-fiction.

Under Review:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When is a POD, not a POD?

I just thought of a question that could be added to the iUniverse Book Reviewer's handy-dandy comparison chart: is the review site for all books using print on demand technology, or only self-published books?

Because here at the PODcave we recently thought this one over. POD People is all about self-publishing, whether you actually use POD or not (e.g. ebooks only, short offset run, we don't care). By referring to this, generically, as 'POD' we continue to contribute blithely to the murderation of semantically correct English.

I believe POD Critic and Leo Stableford cover PODs that are not self-published? So they are self-POD inclusive rather than exclusive, probably a smart move if if we are trying to blur the distinctions between good self-POD and good fiction in general. But then nobody could accuse me of making too many smart moves...

Anyhow, if you are a non-self-published POD author this is not the blog for you. May I interest you in this new blog by the other half of the PODmins, the inimitable Dawno....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

'A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story' by Charles Emery

Title: A Man and his Maniac: The Bunkie Story
Author: Charles Emery
Price: $12.98
Genre: Non-Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-6151-3838-1
Publisher/Point of Sale: Lulu

The Bunkie Story has many of the qualities of a good dog. It is straight forward, good humored and worth an hour or two of anyone’s time. I smiled, I laughed, I actually cried at the end. Anyone who’s been there at the end for a dog knows what that is like. Any dog owner worth there salt will recognize these experiences: from the wry mundanity of stepping barefoot on dog shit and the moments you think ‘yup, that dog is dead’ only to find they are way more resilient than you imagine—to the moments of pure insight and satisfaction that can only happen when you work with dogs and spend a lot of time with them (sheep dogs in my case rather than gun dogs, but the principle is the same).

I could safely predict the author and I have very little in common other than a love of dogs and the good fortune to have spent a lot of time with some very fine dogs. We may in fact be polar opposites on just about every other issue that could possibly be imagined but when it comes to dogs, that doesn’t matter. I loved this book. There were really only two, well, not sour notes but perhaps some elements falling a bit flat for me. One was after the seventh or eighth mention of the ‘future ex wife’ where I felt that wry humor was tipping over into an unwelcome hint of bitterness, and an epilogue that introduces a ‘God’ element that might be less universal than the central ‘dog’ element—at least amongst the audience likely to pick up a book with a puppy on the cover.

The Bunkie Story is widely accessible because it is a specific story told plainly but with considerable insight. On the whole I would not hesitate to recommend this book which chronicles much of what is remarkable and uplifting about sharing our lives with dogs. I look forward to Mr. Emery's future works.

RATING: 7.5/10

Lulu 8.3
POD Critic 7.5 8
Pub-ioneer 7.5
Mrs. Giggles 7.8

AVERAGE: 7.8/10

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Looking Inward/Looking Outward

Until mid-2006 Gloomwing was a conventional self-POD book review site with some fee-charging services tacked on. They had a certain approach... books that could not be given at least 3 out of 4 did not have a review posted. Then the main site was replaced with a Lulu-produced magazine (82c to download an e-copy). The magazine is targets an audience of self-publishers rather than a general readership, as do most of us. But it does make me wonder about the delicate balance of supporting the POD community and being supported by it. 82 cents isn't a great price by any means. Certainly lower than the costs of posting in a book to the blog review site. But the delivery method almost guarantees that a general readership will not stumble across your review in this format.

It does leave me wondering, yet again, whether any self-POD information site can address an audience beyond the insular circle of those who publish in that manner themselves. Because at this moment these are the only people listening and so the message tends to naturally adapt itself to the audience that is available--regardless of the one being sought.

And it is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a site or publication is themed as relating to self-publishing it can only attract people for whom that is a relevant category. Readers have no reasonable basis for caring about technology of production. They are interested only in subject or genre and the mainstream presses delivery a better funded and frankly normally a better quality product not only in terms books themselves but also book reviewing magazines. And these magazines, as we know, exclude the small players. I am acutely aware of this myself as a writer of gay romance, a category explicitly excluded from the major book review magazine Romantic Times.

So, what is the point of whinging, what is the way forward? The only option I see is this. There is certainly a place for 'trade' organs that serve self-publishers primarily, including their interests as readers. But beyond that attention needs to be divided between existing reader-oriented outlets that do accept self-published materials (suggestions, anyone?) and the creation of dual purpose sites that focus on self-published materials but in a way that might also attract reader interest. One nascent and now apparently dormant example is Fantasy POD. A genre specific site might actually attract genre readers with an interest in the lesser-served niches and original voices of their genre.

Maybe there are enough of us generalists out there trying to grapple with self-POD as a whole. Most sites, Gloomwing included, are closed to submissions or restricted to print submissions--another sure sign that the time for specialisation has arrived. There are readers out there ready and waiting for offerings in neglected genres. Gay fiction, westerns, horror and poetry spring readiliy to mind as viable options. But who is going to take the next step?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Self-POD Comparisons

I would be interested in opinions on this rather detailed comparison of many of the third-party self-POD companies.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

POD Review Site Summary

iUniverse Book Reviews has posted a summary of the POD Review sites to allow easy comparison and clarify the main features and differences. The chonological order makes me realise that POD People is the oldest of the listed blogs, if only by a margin of 4 days. Time does fly....