Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BLOG REVIEW WEEK, 2 : Self-Published and Small Press--Dawno

Hi, I’m Dawno, the review co-ordinator for PODPeople, a blog that reviews self-published POD books from places like Lulu, iUniverse, etc. I’ve also begun dabbling in occasional reviews of small press books, which I started doing because we don’t review books submitted to PODPeople which aren’t self-published.

I’m not an author, self-or-otherwise published. I like to write, but I find at this point in my life, that occasional blogging pretty much satisfies me. I don’t have any immediate desire to produce a novel (or even shorter works) for publication. My only credentials for what I do at PODPeople are that I’m an avid reader who has been devouring the printed word for over 45 years and I’d like to think that I’m helping to get information out to other readers about books they might otherwise not hear of.

At PODPeople, we’re reviewing books from mostly unknown authors that have put their books in print without the support of the commercial publishing industry – large or small presses. I think there are about as many reasons why self-published authors do this as there are self-published books, so I won’t go into that – fortunately, PODPeople has published some articles about why some people chose to go that route, so if you’re interested, you can read about it there in our archives.

Regarding why we exist, here’s a bit from a post Emily wrote back in April of this year:

“And it was as a reader that I discovered self-published books were often pretty bad, sometimes rather good and occasionally magnificent. This was something I wanted other readers to know. The only thing I wanted other writers to appreciate was that self-publishing has its place. It isn't on a pedestal or hidden down in the basement. Self-published books should be able to find a place on our bookshelves according to their merits. That was the only reason that I first started this blog and the associated website--out of a respect for good writing and a realisation that good self-published writing starts out at a distribution disadvantage because readers have to learn about it, they have to actively seek it out. And good self-published writers, who are considerably less lazy then me, deserve a little recognition.”

With self-published POD books, readers basically have to take a leap of faith anytime they purchase one. Readers, have come, for good or ill, to depend on commercial publishing to put books in bookstores that have gone through a vetting process which, one hopes, provides good stories, well written and worth our hard earned money. I’m not to saying that commercial publishing always gets it right – that’s a much longer and different discussion. However, with self-published POD, if readers know anything about it at all, they probably know that the traditional vetting process hasn’t occurred prior to publication.

PODPeople, and other self-published POD book review sites, give readers an opportunity to hear about a book from someone who isn’t the author or his best friend. And we are trying to make a little dent in that vast lack of information over at PODPeople – getting the word out about the good books available from self-published authors.

Our site has published over fifty reviews since January of 2006. Does it make a difference? I don’t know – it’s beyond my ability to do the research, but I like think that it can.

So why do we write these reviews? None of us are paid; we don’t have an obligation to an employer to put out regular reviews, so why bother? I can really only speak for myself, and see reviewing as a way to start a conversation about something I’ve enjoyed (or not) with people who share my interests. I write my reviews to inform the reader, but also, to give back a bit of feedback to the self-published author. I hope give the reader enough information to know whether or not there’s something in the story that they will enjoy and I hope to give the author information that will help them with the next book they write.

Some of our other reviewers seem to write exclusively for the reader. Both are good approaches. For me, however, since the self-published POD writer has not gone through that vetting process mentioned earlier, I mention the things that took me away from the story – difficult to follow changes in POV, too many typos, holes in the plot (come to think of it, that probably helps the readers make an informed decision, too). If the next self-published POD book is technically better, that’s one small step towards removing the stigma, fair or not, attached to these books.

1 comment:

Emily Veinglory said...

Ilve been trying to pretty up the POD People site, if abyone has the time please pop buy and tell me how it looks :)