Tuesday, August 14, 2007

McReviews in the Age of Wally-World

A lot has changed recently in the world of reviews for POD books. Several topics need to be discussed within the framework of their relationship to each other and a few issues stand alone. Let's get the unpleasant stuff out of the way first.

Many of you may feel as if I am too critical of the high incidences of grammatical and typographical mistakes found in far too many POD books. Yes, the Uppity Fathead Police may arrest me, but my own Proofreading Police record is mostly clean. No, my record is not perfect: I have found about seven errors in each of my four iUniverse books. The problem is that only a few of you have matched that level of proofing perfection. Any number less than ten can be considered acceptable for any traditionally published book, and that is the holy grail I seek. Asking a buyer to pay a premium price for a badly edited book is not only tacky, but it feeds ammo to the slap-fighters who want to tell the whole world how not published we all are! There is no downside to the issue of adequate proofreading. I have explained a good way to accomplish this task in the article, The Proof is in the Nitpick. All you have to do is simply show a little extra patience and do it. I have just finished reading Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Not only is it a Big McWhopper of a good book, I think I may have found one error, and this is a book crammed to the buns with fine print, technical references, and footnotes! Yes, I know that Mr. Schlosser had a whole team of proofreaders and fact checkers working on the project, but a book is a book. Get real, people. You'll have to pay twice as much for my latest book with its seven errors. We must whip this problem! How can we ever get any respect until we do? Please believe me when I say I am on your side. After your mom, I'm the next person who most wants to see you succeed.

One of the reasons I choose to review only iUniverse books is that I know the technical details of the entity to which we submit out manuscripts. I know most of you do not like having to edit and market your own books, but that's just tough bananas. You would have to do a lot of this stuff with a small, boutique publisher, too, and Random House isn't interested at all, so quit your whining and just deal with the reality we have. One of the reasons I started this blog was to provide an unbiased viewpoint of the iUniverse experience.

The POD review business is rapidly becoming ludicrous. Yet another reason I began this blog was the founding of a POD review business which I refuse to name because the last thing I want to do is to give the company more publicity. This review company operates practically from my own backyard, and they have created a new low in paid, plastic, illegitimate, reviews for POD books. The highly unfortunate issue is that Amazon's new manner in which the company places reviews on the page will automatically accentuate any reviews by this particular, despicable purveyor of Pabulum. This is because Amazon's review placement is now heavily biased toward reviews listed under the same, high-volume names, and the despicable one utilizes a whole herd of patsies, many of whom are teenagers, to actually write their reviews, but all the reviews are cataloged under the company name, not the individual reviewers' names. The stink really begins to permeate the Amazone when you realize how many POD authors just want good reviews so they can sell their books. They don't give a ratt's ass about quality, truth, or integrity. These are, indeed, the reviews Made in China and sold at Wally-World. The ones who get burned are the customers, the readers, the buyers. Like Ronald Reagan, the despicable company has discovered the soul of the modern POD era, and it is rotten. I hope this is not the path we are about to follow, but I sincerely fear that it is. In the same way the $29.95 DVD players built by slave labor in China and sold at Wally-World have replaced quality consumer electronics built by highly educated workers at Sony and Technics in Japan, I fear that this new tonnage of frivolous and misleading book reviews will become the norm for Print On Demand book reviews. The best comment I can make about this disgusting phenomenon is that the grossly overpriced Kirkus Discovery reviews sold by iU to its most naive authors will probably be squeezed from the marketplace.

Meanwhile back at the legitimate review ranch, where all our beef roams free and our reviews are free, too, the choices are rapidly diminishing. We have a new reviewer in The Ring, but The (official) De Facto POD Review Ring is all but defunct. POD People and Leo Stableford are still in business, but Leo is currently inactive and the People have closed all submissions. You can visit Odyssey Reviews to read her submission guidelines, but the short version is that she, too, accepts only paper copies. All the quick-submit, digital submission sites are closed to submissions or defunct. Her Odyssey prefers the standard fiction genres, so she's currently your best choice for those sci-fi fantasies. As you are probably already aware, I review those genres, but they are not my favorites. Generally, the more difficult a book is to classify, the better I like it. With her genre preferences and a small cadre of three reviewers, Her Odyssey seems to split the difference between POD People and iUniverse Book Reviews. You may want to refer to Coming Attractions to get an accurate picture of the current state of this review site. The short version of this one is that I am open to submissions, but the queue could quite quickly back up to a point a few weeks into the future. Two of you have been approved for review submissions, but I have not received your books yet. As I have always said, I don't count books until they are holding down my bookshelf, so iUniverse Book Reviews may or may not be booked up for the forseeable future. The first books to arrive are always the first to be read and reviewed. Thank you for your continued support of the premier legitimate review site for iUniverse authors.


Ian said...

Tabitha: You do set an excellent standard for reviews. I can certainly attest to the quality and thoroughness of your reviewing (and that's not just because you gave me good marks either - I had no idea how you'd receive my book The Milkman!). Other reviewers would do well to pay attention to how you go about the process.

Thanks for the heads-up on the new review site! Especially since POD Critic seems to be winding down, there aren't many other places left who will do honest reviews.


Amy Lane said...

And definitely keep up with the setting proof-reading standards--even if I'm the one who falls short, I am very much aware of how important it is that we strive for perfection. The better edited POD books are, the better chance we, as authors, have of being taken seriously by the world at large.

Amy Lane said...

(Argh! How irritating to have posted that comment and then realized that I left a proof-reading gaffe in it!!!!)