Saturday, May 23, 2009

PODBRAM Steps Out


This is not a review of the first book by the funniest author in the world. Don Martin unleashed Fester & Karbunkle in their first full-length feature entitled Steps Out in 1961. I like to pay homage to the master of nonsense words describing funny noises whenever I can.

The main purpose of this post is to republish the review of this website that appeared on the recently discontinued review blog, PODdy Train. Since the links to that site obviously are no longer in service, this is the only way to make this informative opinion from a person not directly associated with PODBRAM available to the readers. From now on, the links will take you back to this page at PODBRAM.

Before that review is reprinted here, I want to bring the readers up to date about some of the recent changes in the POD review industry. Not only has PODdy Train disappeared, but The PODler has ceased offering free reviews of POD books, too. You may have already noticed that there have been a few changes in the listings in The De Facto POD Review Ring Chart, as well as the links to other legitimate reviewers, both active and inactive, in the link list down the left column of this page. There are a few other reviewers whom you may have heard of, but have not found listed at PODBRAM. Maybe you have also noticed that a few of these unmentioned sites have been trouncing submitted books without reading more than a few pages. It's beginning to look a little bleak out there, folks.

The brightest new shining star, at least at this point in the era of POD book reviews, is The LL Book Review (LLBR), the site formerly known as The Lulu Book Review. Shannon Yarbrough's site has been gradually growing and improving over the past year, and a few changes have just been announced. Shannon has added additional reviewers, changed the URL and the website title, and added CreateSpace and Wordclay to his short list of accepted publishers. He has also revamped the site with an all-new, very professional, readable, and comprehensive look. He even scooped me with an interview with Mark Corker, the founder of Smashwords! I wanted to do that... if I ever got the time.

A few other established sites are still moving right along. POD People is still the pioneer of the group, the only one older (by six months) than PODBRAM. Her Odyssey is still a strong alternative site for POD reviews, the weakness being that the site reviews far less books than does PODBRAM or POD People. The Slippery Book Review Blog seems to be less and less interested in reviewing books and more involved with trying to tell other people how to review books. If you want to see just how much the whole industry except for a very few of us seems to have become lost in the Twilight Zone, read this carefully.

Without further delay, here is the review of PODBRAM written by the anonymous reviewer formerly known as PODdy Train. Thank you for the glowing words, PODdy Train, wherever you are.

PODdy Train Review of PODBRAM (4/11/09)

Another POD review site came onto the scene shortly after POD People. On July 12, 2006, a man by the name of Floyd M. Orr put a call out to iUniverse authors asking if they'd like a review. His introduction states...

Would you like an online review of your iUniverse book? The evidence suggests that tens of thousands of you would. After careful study of the POD market for about seven years, I am considering entering a new hobby, just to see where it leads me.

Floyd was smart and started by concentrating on only one self-publishing company, iUniverse, and it was a company he knew something about since he had published four books with them. Based on a search at Amazon, Floyd's books never caught on. Two of them only have one review each. But that doesn't matter. The popularity of his review site definitely makes up for it. It took a month, but Floyd's first post attracted 18 comments.

In August, his first 2 paragraph review went live. Though his introductory post spelled out quite a few of Floyd's guidelines, more specifications fell into place just two months later. And today it appears Floyd still gives books quite the white glove treatment - examining both the content of the story and the physical formatting of the book itself - but his tedious dissection of both plot and all the self-publishing faux pas didn't make authors stray away. I have always admired Floyd's blatant honesty: "I am looking for proof that iUniverse authors are capable of writing great books that deserve to be discovered and read."

Over 100 reviews later, a handful of author interviews, and countless posts about the POD Experience in general, Floyd now has eight other reviewers under him and calls himself the Editor-in-Chief-Curmudgeon. His blog has received much praise across the WWW, mainly for his detailed De Facto POD Review Ring where he outlines all of the other reviewers out there, whether or not they are open to submissions, and including a detailed list of genre codes for each review site.

Recently, Author Solutions bought iUniverse and it appears it had an affect on Floyd's review site also, but for the better. He changed the name to POD Book Reviews & More and opened his parameters to include all POD books, not just iUniverse authors, and more except for Lulu.com authors for some strange reason. Sorry, Lulu's.

His official guidelines include some tongue-in-cheek humor which I've missed from Floyd lately. It appears he truly has become the man behind the curtain while his review team pumps out quality reviews that don't oversell and aren't very biased. But that's too bad. I miss his dry wit that often shined in posts like the one outlining why he counts errors in books he reviews. Along with Floyd's "no holds barred" honesty and refusal to take place in the "slap fights," PODBRAM's consistency is a trait to be admired and other reviewers out there should take note.

The quality of book reviews, mainly those concerning POD books, has often been questioned. Reviewers have regulary been accused of overselling reads, but Floyd and I actually see eye to eye on the subject. Why bother with a bad review? Here's my thoughts exactly straight from PODBRAM...

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.

And that's why you won't be disappointed with the outcome should your book be honored with a review from Floyd or the team at PODBRAM. In my eyes, he IS the leader in indie review sites on the net today, even when he was just devoting his time to iU.

1 comment:

LLBook said...

Thanks for the mention, Floyd. We are very excited about the changes. I'm glad you are too! We appreciate your continued support.

-Shannon