Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Porta-PODdys

In consideration of all the discussion concerning five-star reviews, error counts, and anonymous reviewers, I feel compelled to step into the fray. Everyone knows that I do, indeed, count errors when I read a book for review. What you may not know is that I count them because I realized soon after I founded PODBRAM that the count was so astoundingly high for many POD books that I needed to track the errors in order to compose accurate, comparable reviews. The simple fact is that all POD authors must edit and proofread their own books, whereas traditionally published authors generally have the benefit of professional assistance. This makes the editing and proofing of POD books a special issue for legitimate reviewers. If we don't evaluate this issue, we are not being fair to the readers of those books lacking polish. You can defend your right to abuse poetic license and write your book in any manner you wish, but any conscientious reviewer is obligated to tell the truth as he sees it to your potential readership.

Counting errors is one thing, but analyzing the results is quite another. I try to do a lot of analyzing and soul-searching every time I write a review. That's some of the extensive personal service an author receives at PODBRAM. I try to take into account a variety of factors, even as I take notes on the errors. Yes, some errors are much worse than others. Some are the result of laziness, some are spawned by stupidity married to arrogance, and some are just missed by an author in a hurry. Some error types trip up the reader so repeatedly that the error count all but ruins the reading experience. Others are so benign that they can be easily ignored by a motivated reader. A lot of the errors are simply a difference of opinion between the author and the reviewer. Sometimes the difference of opinion stems from the author's poetic license speeding out of control. The reviewer must give the whole issue extensive thought after reading one book, while another presents a clear case for the reviewer. If there ever was a time to use the phrase case by case basis, this is it.

I shall not give any book I review for PODBRAM less than three stars at Amazon or B&N. No book will ever receive a distinct star rating for its PODBRAM review, either. As many have said in this discussion, why would I choose to read a two-star book in the first place? Let me add, why would I go to all the trouble to create and edit PODBRAM just to damage, instead of help, the marketing of books I so carefully select to review? That's what the selection process is supposed to accomplish before the book is even accepted for review at PODBRAM.

We do things the right way here at PODBRAM. You know my real name and that of all the reviewers on the team. You can look up the titles of any of our own books anytime you wish. You may have noticed that the rules for commenting on a post here are minimal. The only comments I have removed have been those of blatant spammers. You don't have to identify yourself or type in a series of funky letters and numbers to comment at PODBRAM, but I certainly hope that all of you will continue to identify yourselves when you comment. We are an upfront, non-business here at PODBRAM. We are not trying to hide anything from you. If you want to read about or buy any of our books, we shall love you for it, but we are not making a cent from this operation. We are doing it for the love of books, reading, and the appreciation for the massive amount of effort necessary for you to publish a quality product. You could say that we are acutely aware of your efforts.

Several years ago, a blogger known as PODdy Mouth was extremely lucky to be the first well-known POD reviewer to be recognized in the national media. Nevermind that she was a certified smart-mouth who treated most POD authors like something stuck on her shoe, PODdy became an overnight legend. Many POD reviewers treated her like a POD goddess. I was not one of those reviewers. Not only would she never reveal her identity to anyone, she refused to even add a link to this site from hers! I found her arrogance to be despicable, as well as childish. Unlike many other POD reviewers, I say good riddance to her snotty anonymity!

More recently another PODdy Mouth popped up to smart off at her readers. Although the second PODdy was more interested in the business side of the POD industry, her attitude toward the disclosure of her own identity was as guarded as that of the first PODdy. Were the two actually the same person? She claimed they were not, but I can certainly say the idea crossed my mind numerous times. I tried to get PODdy #2 to join me at PODBRAM for an interview, but she accepted only with the stipulation of the interview being conducted through the comment section of her own site. Hmmm. What did she have to hide? As many of you already know, the whole PODdy #2 affair blew up with a confrontation between her and a few of her less constrained commentators.

As you can see for yourself, they both ended up as Porta-PODdys, anonymous dust in the wind blowing across POD, the stench carried off somewhere else, where it could no longer offend our noses. Anonymous bloggers may in some ways be the bane of all of us. If you can't stand upright and state your name when you post something on a public forum, why should we allow you any credibility? If you question something I have been saying, go buy one of my books and make up your own mind. There are plenty of them for sale cheaply at Amazon, if you don't mind paying a $2.95 shipping charge. Go ahead. I dare you. I have copies of all of them that I can offer for free reviews, too, if anyone is interested. I am relatively sure that that goes for most or all of the PODBRAM team members, too. We are all in this together. If you want to truly gain respect as an author or book critic, you cannot hide behind anonymity. A Porta-PODdy is not a pleasant thing to stand behind, either.

6 comments:

JanetElaineSmith said...

Ah, how well I remember the Porda-Poddys that lined the streets of Grand Forks ND after our 1997 flood. You are right; they leave a stench in your nostrils.
As for the anonymity of PODdy Mouth, if she's (or is it a he) is not big enough to take what they hand out, they should keep their PODdy mouth quiet. At least that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

I final comment is that I have read a lot of the big best-selling books in the past few years that have a lot of mistakes in them. I have no proof of it, but I wonder if the big publishers' editors aren't relying too much on SpellCheck instead of paying attention in school.
Janet Elaine Smith

JanetElaineSmith said...

Ah, how well I remember the Porda-Poddys that lined the streets of Grand Forks ND after our 1997 flood. You are right; they leave a stench in your nostrils.
As for the anonymity of PODdy Mouth, if she's (or is it a he) is not big enough to take what they hand out, they should keep their PODdy mouth quiet. At least that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

I final comment is that I have read a lot of the big best-selling books in the past few years that have a lot of mistakes in them. I have no proof of it, but I wonder if the big publishers' editors aren't relying too much on SpellCheck instead of paying attention in school.
Janet Elaine Smith

DSalerni said...

Well stated, Floyd!

Is the purpose of a review to warn the public about bad books, or is it to promote good books? The fact is, it can be either -- or both. If a reviewer chooses only to highlight the positive, then that is certainly a valid role.

Celia Hayes said...

I always took my mission as a reviewer to explain in a bit of detail what the book was about, and to outline what excellent reason(s)that a reader would have for taking the time (and expense) to read the thing in the first place, why it appealed to me, and generally what I noticed about it in the way of storytelling competance. Or not, as the case might be, on those rare times that I have stuck myself with an obligation to read and review a book which turned out to be a total dog. (That only happened once or twice, thanks to a bit of care taken.)I should like to be able to say what the writer did well - but if they didn't, I felt obliged to mention that as well. I can't not do this - it's a matter of credibility. I don't like giving bad reviews, and I would rather not read a book that I wouldn't have chosen to read otherwise. I appreciate the work that Floyd does, eliminating those books which I have every reason to suspect will suck on a magnitude such as to draw in small planets. I am not a public utility, I am no longer a student obliged to apply myself to a required reading list, I'm not in this for the business - I'd rather just look to find ripping good reads and tell other people about them.

Jane Smith said...

Interesting post, Floyd.

I know of POD-dy Mouth's blog, and have read some of it: I thought she was quite well thought-of, which shows just how little I know of this whole business!

I don't know about POD-dy Mark II, though: is there any chance of a link to the site, or an explanation of what happened?

Thank you!

Poddys said...

Just to point out that it should be Port-a-Pottys not Port-a-Poddys.

A baby uses a Potty not a Poddy to go to the toilet.

It's ironic to me, being English but having lived in the USA since 1994, that letters are mis-promounced over here. So many people thing that the word is actually spelt "Poddys", yet I haven't seen anyone spell Saturday as SADDER-DAY which is how most people pronounce it.

It's a weird and wonderful world once you travel around and fine all the differences in cultures and language. Wonderful, weird, exciting, and sometines also frustrating too LOL :)