Friday, March 21, 2008

A Question--veinglory

Recently I have received a couple of enquiries from "traditional" publishers looking for reviews. How do you all feel about a few non-self-published book reviews in the mix? I think a few, maybe not more than one a month and clearly marked, might be an okay thing? I am wondering whether the staff who look for new reviewers just didn't look close enough to see what kind of site this is, or more optimistically perhaps they didn't care?


Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I'm torn on the subject.

I think we writers should help each other out, no matter what the means of publication. In that regard, I say go for it.

Unfortunately, there are darn few reviewers who will read our POD books and plenty who will read something out of Random House.

Given how hard it is to get an impartial review when you self-publish, I'd hate to see sites like yours review traditional books as a common practice.

If you decide to go ahead, just be careful that it doesn't turn into a slippery slope, like when the boss keeps asking for just a little extra work here, a little extra there, and the next thing you know....

(And sheesh, if you need a POD book to review, just ask-- I've got two! LOL!)

Jim Murdoch said...

If the publishers are small then why not? If it's one of the big boys then sod them. Small publishers are the next step on the rung up from self-publishers. They're not making wads of cash for their efforts. At the end of the day the goal is the same to get people to read something different.

Anonymous said...

First, I've read and reviewed a couple of small-press offerings that I thought were truly horrible - things I'd be embarrassed to have my name attached to it.

On the other hand, I don't see that it can hurt to broaden our reach. We might get some additional publicity to both the site and our works.

Floyd M. Orr said...

I am generally with bunnygirl on this issue. Non-POD authors have plenty of sites available for reviews. However, if you are talking about a really small publisher with one of those weird books you have said you seek out, then I don't see why not. I am personally standing on the slippery slope that bunnygirl mentions. If you have seen the latest post at iUBR, you know that we are opening up submissions to other imprints 4/1/08. Like you, I am soon to be in uncharted waters, too.

Without Ribbons said...

Was the request personal in any way? Traditional publishers love to shoot out advanced readers copies with blanket press releases hoping for reviews, advanced orders, and other bites. When I was reviewing for the newspaper, my mailbox got at least two of these a week, sometimes more. They were usually addressed to "The Arts and Literature Editor." Wow! What a fancy title for a task that didn't even earn a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Really, people? "Torn"? I mean, come on.

Publishers don't choose who reviews what, where, and when. So blaming the fact that there are "plenty who will read something out of Random House" on Random House first connotes a lack of understanding about how the publishing and reviewing industry works and then becomes silly.

People complain about the "stigma" against self-publishing, and this seems a good way to advance around it. Publishers themselves don't have it much; I can name four self-published novels that, in the past year, have gotten major pubishing contracts from big publishers.

Rather, it seems to come from the mainstream press, and to dwell on the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, especially on a blog like this one, hurts the general fact that most POD supporters are pushing toward; that there is, inherently, little difference between self-published books and 'traditionally' published books, and that method of distribution has little correlation to quality of writing.

Forget the slippery slope, because consider how it could work: say HarperCollins sends a book to POD People, which then reviews it. HarperCollins uses a blurb from POD People on its cover. Readers note this.

This works on a couple of levels. First, it says to both readers and traditional media that HarperCollins is perfectly happy with the reputation of POD People to use its blurb. It confers a certain amount of authority to the source.

Which, in turn, confers a certain amount of authority to everything else POD People writes. So when readers come to POD People to check out reviews of books they liked, they also see that POD People (whose opinion, remember, now obviously matters, because HarperCollins thought enough about it to use it) has reviewed lots of other books, as well.

And hey, POD People said this about HarperCollins' book, but look what they said about this self-published book: they liked it even more. Could a self-published book be even better than one published by HarperCollins? Is there even a difference? Readers don't care; so long as they can get the book, I think few care about how they get it.

To be sure, it's not something that would occur overnight, but once you get even a single reader to ask that question, the 'war' between self-published books versus traditionally published books ceases to exist for that reader.

There's enough division already (iUBR, for example, reviews only books published by iUBR; what about Lulu? CafePress? etc.); why propagate it? The way to reduce stigma is to work together, not to dwell on what makes everyone different. The way to reduce stigma is to concentrate on the writing, not on how it's distributed.

Anonymous said...

Will, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Kevin McCann said...

IMHO, POD People should be limited to print-on demand books and not include works from traditional publishers. Reviewers of traditional books rarely give a passing glance to our work, so why should POD supporters give them free publicity? Again, just my thoughts.

Angela Harms said...

Hey, guess what! You can be a "traditional publisher" and a Print-on-demand publisher at the same time. Print-on-demand is a printing technology, and says nothing about whether the publisher is the author or not.

I'm in the process of starting a small press ( as a family venture, and our first book will be that of a family member.

There isn't necessarily a fine line between traditional- and self-publishing.

veinglory said...

Angela, what gave you the impression we were not well aware of that. It would be a startling thing to miss in the course of several years of blogging on the subject. But guess what? POD is *also* a slang term for self-publishing. It's a bit too late to close the stable door on that one.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Angela's confusion came as a result of confusing wording, imprecise terminology, and the cant of several responses. The question posed concerned non-self-published authors, but as was noted, POD does not necessarily denote self-published. I guess the question then becomes whether a book published by, say, HarperCollins, using POD technology, is appropriate for review here.

Also, just because many self-published authors don't know the difference between POD as a technology and self-publishing as an action doesn't really mean that they are the same thing. I don't think I've heard any professionals of 'traditional' media-i.e., radio, television, print-use POD as slang.

Point is, as writers, precise language is our friend.

veinglory said...

As a person who was authored POD books published by third party ("traditional") presses I, personally, find the quibbling tiresome. I have had my use of the term POD in the title of this blog "corrected" a few times--I have yet to have had it misunderstood as far as I know even by those who disagreed with it. They knew I *meant* 'self-POD'. Ergo I think the word 'worked'.

It is not a matter of being ignorant of language but choosing to approach it sociologically (as she is spoke) rather than prescriptively. The naming of the blog is covered in one of my first posts. (called "Being the Yam"). I feel that the meaning as with other words (wound, pat, gross etc etc etc) is clear in context even to those who dispute whether it is "correct".

As it turns out the two trad presses I was referring to contacted me in one case based on reviews posted elsewhere (a now defunct magazine), in the other the seem to have read a single post here and contacted me directly as the reviewer (not using the podpeep address). Interestingly enough it seems I personally came to their attention and the blog barely or at all. Which I guess is good news for my name-branding, if not this blog.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. So far as the quibbling, I find both that and a lot of the invented division tiresome; I've noticed a trend of exclusion/clique-ishness in the self-publishing arena. It's a bit akin to the clique-ishness I've seen among many of the so-called 'lit-blogs' that have sprung up.

My feeling tends to be that these divisions are more often created by perception, rather than actually existent. By that I mean, I think a lot of people perceive ill will where none exists.

And of course you're becoming well known. Your name is pretty much all over the place, and your reviews are among the best in self-publishing, not to mention that this is the longest continuous review blog around. Everyone involved has a good reputation, in fact ("Storyteller" was one of the first self-published novels I encountered, and brilliantly executed in terms of marketing).

Regardless, whatever you decide, I'll keep reading, because supporting the profession as a whole can only help us all.

Angela Harms said...

Oh dear. I really didn't mean to start anything. I completely agree with you about defining language as it is, and not prescriptively. As an editor, I've been pretty adamant about that.

I actually couldn't figure out how to answer the question about whether to allow "traditional" publishers to submit books for review.

And you're right. I am new here. Maybe if I weren't, I'd have known what you meant. :)