Sunday, July 29, 2007

Coming Attractions

iUniverse Book Reviews is presently in a state of flux. The challenge is to keep the accent on quality in the operation, and not succumb to the pressures of quantity. There are changes coming, whether we like it or not. Some of these I cannot control, and others I have been contemplating for a while. I want to be very cautious because I have the review blog right where I have always wanted it. I have previously had an unofficial rule that I let each book review sit at the top of the blog site for 5-7 days before pushing it downward with another posting. I did this to allow maximum exposure of the reviews, as opposed to the articles and interviews. Now that pattern needs to be thrown in the trash because the postings at Amazon and B&N have become less predictable, and I have too many reviews and interviews backed up in line for the blog to allow that much time between postings. I am a little like a plane in a holding pattern right now. They are rebuilding the runway below me and I am not sure exactly when I should drop my landing gear!

The De Facto POD Review Ring seems to have lost quite a bit of its previous adhesion. Three of the members seem to be on (permanent?) hiatus, but the three with POD in their names seem to be hanging in there, albeit with a few submissions limitations. Any author presently seeking a review is as likely as not to find the door closed in his face. He can always go to one of the volume (paid) reviewers for a review that is sure to glow like a nuclear reactor, but the legitimate review sources are tightening.

According to Susan Driscoll, the CEO of iUniverse, the company tracks its publishing numbers by fiscal years beginning July 1 and ending June 30. I don't have the figure for the fiscal year that has just ended, but here are the stated figures for the years of the recent past:

2004 - 4016 2005 - 4289 2006 - 4715

Have we hit 5000 yet? Obviously there are a lot of prospective authors out there, and their numbers are growing! Only twenty books were reviewed on this site in its first fiscal year (July 12, 2006 - July 12, 2007). At a future rate of one per week, I could review only 52 books in this second fiscal year! If many of the books are short, quick reads, or if I find a particularly extensive amount of appropriate reading time, maybe I could review 60 or 70 books in a year. Remember, as I have previously stated on this site, I actually prefer to read and review big, fat, long books that have required more than a little time and effort from their authors. Let's do the math, shall we? At best, in the coming fiscal year, I expect to review considerably less than 2% of the publisher's output for a single year! Ya'll are the few, the proud, the ones who dared to face a strip search by The Proofreading Police!

I have known since I began this project that this day would arrive. You guys who have been reading my posts since the beginning know that I said the early birds would be the ones chowing down on worms. We are now headed for a time of slim pickings in the worm bed. One day very soon one of you is going to be declined a review, not because you are a cheater, but simply because time has run out. I shall never review Poots from the Grave: The Real Anna Nicole (The Whore from Mexia) Smith Story, but you knew that already. One of these days I shall have to tell an author who is obviously dedicated to her craft to take her story elsewhere. I don't like that. I don't like it at all, but I do know that there is not a thing I can do about it. I must keep quality and personal service as my ultimate goals.

The thought has more than crossed my mind to offer some sort of proofreading service for authors, If I choose to do that, it will not be a free service, but the price will be half what the many other online services charge. You can look up these services at iU and elsewhere. You will see that they each have a particular description for what they do, with services ranging from simple comma placement to heavy content editing. If I get involved in any of this, I can tell you right now that I am neither qualified to, nor interested in, telling you how to better tell your story. My expertise is much more in line with getting the proofreading done more perfectly and completely before you submit your Word document to iU. The price I have in mind is about $500 for a 100,000-word, 400-page book. That's an iU page count: the Word page count for 100,000 words would be significantly less. The minimum price offered by iUniverse and others for a similar word count is currently $900, and I would probably be more likely to enter a few of those more extensive editing areas without assessing additional cost. If this concept interests you, send an email to ice9 at e-tabitha dot com and we shall see if it goes anywhere.

Finally, after sitting through the commercials, we get to the previews! The following books are lined up for review. This tentative order could be altered by the date of arrival of those that have yet to arrvive. Also, Amy Lane's Bound may be delayed until after the review of books yet to enter the queue. This sole exception to the first-in-first-reviewed rule is due to the fact that Bound has been sent along simultaneously with its predecessor. An interview with Anthony Livingston Hall should appear next week, and an interview with Amy Lane is in the works for some later date. The first four of these books have been received, so the order of their reviews is set in stone. The latter four have yet to be received, so their ducks are still unhatched.

Distant Cousin: Reincarnation by Al Past
Portrait of Her by Ellen P. Bloomenstein
The Thief Maker by David H. Schleicher
Survival OP: The Fear in the Wilderness by Scott Allen
Flashback: A Low Country Novel by D. A. Welch
Beyond the Cayenne Wall by Shaila Abdullah
Wounded by Amy Lane
Bound by Amy Lane

The whole concept of closed submissions gives me the cooties. I suppose I have too much empathy for other iUniverse authors for my own good. Rodney Dangerfield should be the mascot for all iU authors, but I suppose he's too busy doing his familiar schtick in heaven. Will I officially close submissions? I certainly hope not, but if you are an iU author who has been contemplating a review request, my advice to you would be to get off your thumbs.

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