Friday, August 31, 2007

Mrs Giggles

So today the rumor mill quickly let me know that my fantasy novel [self-promotion alert] 'Father of Dragons' had been reviewed at Mrs. Giggles. I ran right over there and noticed two things. 1) Not a bad review--kinda the sort of review I would give the book if I was somehow... not me, and 2) Mrs. Giggles is reviewing self-POD!

Some people on the internet rant and roar and never do anything, while some like Mrs. G just get on with doing things without advance notice or subsequent fanfare. (I am somewhere in between in that I grumble and whine and sometimes actually do something if it is at least mildly amusing to do).

So far there is one book (The Bunkie Story) reviewed both there and here and spookily I discovered that Mrs. Giggles' rating of 78 (7.8 on a 10 point scale) is exactly equal to the average rating for the book at the end of our review. I guess you would call that a developing consensus?

Anyway, it is great to see self-POD books on a mainstream review site. Thank you, Mrs. Giggles.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lulu in PW

I was interested to see a brief story in Publishers Weekly about the attitudes if Lulu founder, Bob Young. The very first line is attributed to him:

“We publish a huge number of bad books.”

The story very accurately presents his general goal of publishing a few copies of many books (rather than many copies of a few books). It seems that this approach is proving profitable with projected profits of $30 million this year. I was however surprised that they have a projected staff of 110 by the end of the year and presumably even less now. Sales are almost entirely through where60% of members are customers only; 40% are only or also authors.

I think this all adds up to something that authors should keep in mind. Although a company can make ample money with a low-effort process seeling few untis of many products, the benefits to the author are not on the same scale at all. Lulu benefits from an ‘economy of scale’ even though they only take a 20% cut of net (in prates I would suggest there net is a little inflated too). They spent little time on each book and profit from putting out a great many books. The author of course cannot do all that much limit how much time and effort they put into each book and are likely to have only one or a few books. So when they make less ‘per book’, they simply make less.

For this reason it only makes sense to go to Lulu (et al) with a book if more profitable alternatives are either unavailable for some reason, be it because the book is too specialised for mass appeal, some kind of ethical issue that precludes third party publishing, a need to avoid stress or expedite availability or… as must frequently be the case, the book is bad. The first of these reasons seems to be the best, as Mr. Young is reported to have said: “Subject areas that sell best are education and niche topics.”

The innate limitations of this business model for the author are apparent in Mr. Young’s closing statement: “We’re not trying to get books to a mass market … We’re trying to give aspiring writers a chance to be seen.” To be seen but by very few people, that is. The onus is on the writer to either understand and accept Lulu levels of exposure as appropriate for their work and their goals (100 copies or so on average) or have a cunning plan to become one of the few who grab a real share of Lulu’s small slice of the market (1.2 million sales Lulu has made in the entire lifespan of the company.)

SOURCE: Milliot J. Turning bad books into big bucks. Publishers Weekly, August 6 2007.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anatomy of a Purchase: Cheryl Anne Gardner buys 'Freak' by Ron Sanders

1) Which self-published book did you purchase?
Freak by Ron Sanders

2) How did you come across it?
I had been following message board posts from this extremely knowledgeable and articulate author. His writing style and views on literature in general mirrored my own. This was his only book available on Amazon. I only purchase books that are made available on Amazon, and I read a great deal of self-pub (Indie as I like to call them) and small press releases. I love the thrill of the hunt for out-of-the-mainstream gems. There are quite a few. I am a voracious reader and can usually distinguish a gem within the first chapter, as a good writer knows how to hook his reader within the first few pages.

3) Did anything put you off the purchase?
No, not at all. The cover is fantastic and very professional, capturing the mood and feel of the story. He put a great deal of effort into the presentation of the work, not to mention the story itself.

4) What made you decide to buy the book?
Overall, after reading the preview, my interest was captured immediately. I was not at all disappointed. The book turned out to be a thrilling edge of your seat read. Loaded with, but not overdone, on the Social commentary. I love books with an underlying message. My review is posted on Amazon.

Sincerely, Cheryl Anne Gardner.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The POD Detective

For writers:
You can see the My Story posts here. If you would like to send in your own answers please send them in with a cover and link to your work.

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
2) Why did you select your specific publisher?
3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

For Readers:
Have you bought a self-published book recently? Then please let us know!

1) Which self-published book did you purchase?
2) How did you come across it?
3) Did anything put you off the purchase?
4) What made you decide to buy the book?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I don't know if you have noticed how I have started to specify "self-POD". My position has generally been that the use of "POD" to mean self-published is no biggee. Sure, print on demand is used by plenty of third party publishers too but its colloquial use to mean a self-published is a ship that has sailed. I mean I used it in the title of this blog. Nevertheless I do think that it is helpful to specify self-POD, small press POD or what ever kind of POD.

I've also been thinking about a catch phrase for the blog, like: 'POD People: part of your complete bookshelf'. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

'Vermin Street: Life in these Walls' by Mike Robinson

TITLE: Vermin Street: Life in these Walls
AUTHOR: Mike Robinson
PRICE: $14.95
GENRE: fantasy
ISBN: 978-1414051789
PUBLISHER: 1st Books (Authorhouse)

Vermin Street is in many ways a classic example of the reason I developed an interest in reading self-POD books in the first place. It is interesting, unusual and vibrant. It is the kind of vigorous and original special interest fiction that will have trouble finding a place in mainstream publishing but will appeal to a several groups of readers.

Essentially, this book is an exercise in ‘Vermin Noir’. In a complex world in the nooks and crannies of a house there is a full human like society of rodents and insects (with the occasional snake, rabbit and mustelid thrown in). The world is anthropomorphic to the extent of animals talking, wearing clothes and running business such as bars, taxis, and in the case of our protagonist being the Private Investigator (not to mention the seedier human activities such as organized crime, prostitution and alcoholism). However these are not just little people with fur, they are clearly also animals living with the harsh realities or predation and extermination attempts by humans.

Robinson’s world is, on the surface, an amusing tale of a rat PI. The combination of dirty, dead pan noir detective clich├ęs with a kind of seedy inverse-Disney world is humorous and clever. It also provides flashes of social commentary that are all the more effective for not being laboured. Here and there we see issues of race, culture, politics and the media filtered through the unique life and times of Blackrat, our anti-hero. Add to that a plot that is dark, emotional and complex and illustrations that are as appealing, flawed and quirky as the text and ‘Vermin Street’ was a engaging, memorable read.

Did I say flawed? Well, although the book is, for the most part, well edited and presented the text is sometimes a little unfocused and jumbled. Long flashbacks in italics are a little tiresome to read. A slightly firmer grip on the plot and the plausibility of some encounters and a little more veracity on the animal aspect of the world would have added some polish to this gem in the rough. But these were minor issues and mentioned only to complete the picture for those who read with mainstream expectations.

My advice to the author would be to take much better advantage of the multiple specialist audiences this book will have. Key amongst them would be anthro/furry enthusiasts, rat enthusiasts and noir fans. Each of these groups have multiple websites, bibliographies and chat groups and are starved of good quality reading material that caters to their interests.

RATING: 8/10

Sunday, August 19, 2007

[NEWS] A Man and His Maniac, now free!

Previously reviewed by this site, 'A Man and His Maniac: The Bunkie Story' by Charles Emery is now available as a free download.


Sunday Call: Poetry

As promised I am making a weekly exception to the currently closed state of general submissions. This week I am open to poetry submissions. Paper copies preferred but pdfs also accepted. The first eligible submission made between now and Friday August 24th will be accepted and reviewed by yours truly. Please send a basic description and link to podpeep at with the subject line 'SUNDAY CALL POETRY'. As should be apparent, please submit for review poetry books and only poetry books.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ah yes, I must renovate the side-bar to reflect the two exits, one hiatus and one new entry in the POD blog business. Of course although I have been continuing to blog it has not, for the most part, been about very much. Today I came to a fairly obvious conclusion.

We have time for the things we make time for. So, if this is something I am going to do the recent dormancy of the other reviewers is beside the point. Ergo, I have a new goal. I will read a self-POD book every week. I will finish a book every week, post a review during the week, and request a new book in a current genre of interest each Sunday. When the other POD people look lively general submissions will be accepted but in the mean time it will just be me :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

...and then there were six, and a half

Now PODler has bowed out, at least for a while.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Odyssey Blog

It has been brought to my attention that there is indeed another self-POD blog out there!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Anatomy of a Purchase

Like pretty much everyone I have a busy life. With all the ours taken buy work on one side and all the hours taken by sleep on the other what remains is divided many ways. I have to do all those normal life things, commute, pay bills, look after the dog. I write, of course, a non-fiction book, fiction and some poetry. There are the three webs sites and of course book reviews.

So reading time is limited and what I have is spread over a good many genres. My commitments to read for review sites are piling up and... yesterday I bought yet another book. Now as it happened to be a self-published book I though it might be interesting to explain why this book managed to squeeze its way in and part me from my money to boot (after all, review copies are free, one of the few perks of this gig).

1) I have a special interest in rats. It's a quirk. I was searching for rats natural history books.
2) The book was on amazon, it popped up
3) The cover art is striking, it told me that was a noir/detective theme, which I like too:

4) The premise is interesting and the amazon reviews were positive but not so positive as to be implausible
5) The cover price is reasonable for a trade paperback

One click purchase and it was all over. That only sour note IMHO was the back cover note that the author is 20. It's a prejudice I know but I hesitate to buy from authors more than a decade younger than me. I like to think authors get better with age. Or maybe I just resent the ones who are already good when they are young :)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The latest self-POD blogger to show signs of faltering is POD Critic. This leaves the ring with two other active members, one occasional poster and the the formerly fiery POD Critic now looking like he is teetering on the brink. So I think it is safe to say that his initiative the Pod ring is all but over.

The peeps have been a little quiet over here too. I don't have any new reviews to post until I finish one of the two books I am reading (one ebook and one paperback because I can't read from my laptop in the bath). But never fear, I am in it for the long run. You ain't getting rid of me.

It strikes me that blogging is a lot like PODding. You have to want to do it... and you have to realize that reaching your audience isn't going to be easy or happen overnight. Maybe it helps that this is a hobby for me and I never expected to set the world on fire. So long as there are still one or two readers out there, I'll be in here.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Rebirth (a "fangtastic Detective Story with a Bloody Twist") by Scott McKenzie was recently declared Spinetingler's Book of the Year Award - Best Unpublished Manuscript. Rebirth was reviewed by Pamela back in May.

Send your self-publishing news or press releases to podpeep at

Sunday, August 05, 2007

After due consideration the POD People decided to keep our focus solely on self-published books. However if you have written POD book published by a small third-party publisher you might like to try Drive by Booking, a blog run by our own Dawno to review and discuss small press books.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The De Facto Self-POD Review Blog Ring

It is my unnecessarily pedantic habit to list the members in the ring in the order of the number of referrals they pass in to us during the previous month. Formerly it was POD Critic, Pub-ioneer, PODler, None May Say, iUniverse book reviews and Leo Stableford. As of the month of July the inactive Pub-ioneer has sunk to the bottom but the order is otherwise about the same. Strangely the long formally closed PODling Master would be in fourth place if it was still on the list. The first two are by far the best referrers, POD Critic perhaps based on expertise and PODler on a willingness to comment actively on the industry and get out there and have an opinion (which is, surely, what blogs are all about?)--and both are distinguished by frequent interesting posts. Hmmm, must do better on that front myself. If anyone wants to let me know how well we are referring, do tell. :)

If there are other self-POD blogs with a general focus out there please let me know about them.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

POD News

IM, the New Novel about a Deadly Internet Predator, Optioned for Film

Rick R. Reed's latest novel, "IM," about a serial killer using Internet "hookup sites" to lure his victims, has just been optioned for film by Panic Productions.

(Miami, FL) Horror/thriller author Rick R. Reed has recently signed a contract for a film option of his serial killer novel, IM , with Panic Productions in Hollywood. The book will be adapted by screenwriter and producer Daniel Farrands, who will also serve as producer. Farrands wrote the screenplay for an adaptation of Jack Ketchum's novel, The Girl Next Door, plus scripts for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, and served as producer for the upcoming A Haunting in Connecticut (with Virginia Madsen).

IM has hit a chord with today's Internet-dominated society. With thousands of online "hookup" services available just a mouse click away, many men have taken their chances meeting a complete stranger, with the hopes of fun and gratification. But what if, instead of pleasure, the stranger behind the screen name arrived with the intention of causing bodily harm, or even death? This perilous possibility is highlighted in IM (ISBN 9781932300796, Quest Books, 2007).

Hailed as "the Stephen King of gay horror" by "Unzipped" magazine, Reed brings readers a fast-paced, enthralling story filled with mystery and gore. The serial killer of "IM" peruses gay internet "hookup" chat rooms for potential victims. Through lusty instant messages, the killer seduces other men into inviting him to their homes under the pretense of romance. The unknowing victims' hopes of passionate fun, however, are quickly dashed when brutal murder usurps their plans for romance.

"I think what attracted Panic Productions to the book is the resonance it has not only with the gay community but with everyone involved in our brave new online world," Reed says. "This is the kind of horror that can really happen, and I think that's what makes it so terrifying."

IM (ISBN 9781932300796, Quest Books, 2007) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.

Send your POD related news releases to podpeep at