Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New POD Reviewer in the UK

A new reviewer of POD books has just launched a website on August 9th. The Self-Publishing Review plans to read and review submitted books in the near future. The proprietor of the site says that she (he?) plans to begin accepting submissions in most genres. To many of you out there in Amateur Authorland, probably the most shocking statement made on the site so far is that she will stop the reading of any submitted book once the error count reaches fifteen. To that I say, wonderful, great, more power to you, and I hope you receive a ton of submissions with less than fifteen errors. I seem to be laughing too hard to write this post! Where are the proofreaders? You say they are out to lunch? My guess is that if this rule is enforced, Ms. SPR will be starting a lot of books, but she may not be writing a lot of reviews.

Note that this new site is located somewhere across the pond and she does not accept PDF's. The genres accepted and other details will be posted at PODBRAM in the POD Review Ring Chart as soon as the new site owner sends them to me. I look forward to reading her reviews. She does, after all, claim to be an editor by profession. I, for one, hope she does not break her own rule. I fear that I shall be the only one.


Without Ribbons said...

Here's my favorite part...

"Don't submit pornography: I can't be bothered with it, and don't want it in my house. Erotica, however, is welcome. Books which contain gratuitous violence or overdone sex are unlikely to do well."

Ummm...there's a fine line between erotica and porn, is there not?

Sounds too much like another PODdy Mouth to me with all this "I've done this and I've done that, and I will do this I will not read that."

The Self-Publishing Review said...

Floyd, thanks for the plug... I think!

I'm very new to the blogging world, and to book reviewing--my experience, as I've explained elsewhere, is in commercial publishing.

Lately I've read a lot about how writers are frustrated by the problems they face with getting their work published commercially.

The usual comment is that their books are "just as good" as the commercially-published ones, but they just can't get them read by the decision-makers, or if they manage that, then they're deemed too uncommercial to be published.

As a consequence, they are turning to self-publishing. Which has its own problems, notably the difficulty of getting the resulting books into enough bookshops to make decent sales and good royalties/income.

I wonder if this is true, or if the books just aren't good enough. I'd suspect it's a mixture of both: with the addition that many writers just don't understand the submission process, or the intricacies of the publishing business (which often flummoxes me, I'll admit).

I'd like to find out for myself. Hence the new blog. And I'd like to have a chance to give a bit of a boost, no matter how small, to the good books out there which might otherwise miss out.

Shannon, I don't know quite why you seem so dead-set against me: there is a fine line between erotica and porn, but that line is there, and I am not interested in crossing it (prudish? perhaps. But I get bored easily by bad writing, and most porn is thick with bad writing. Amongst other things). And why should my setting out the parameters be so troubling? There are some things I can do, and some I can't. I don't want to mislead anyone. I was aiming for clarity, not offense.

And what was wrong with PODdy Mouth, anyway? I don't know much about her, but she seems to have been reasonably well thought-of while she was posting. Or have I made some grave newcomer error here?

Without Ribbons said...


I'm definitely not set against you. The web has plenty of room for another POD reviewer, but the tone you've set on your website is not very inviting. I'm not saying you have to open your arms wide and welcome authors with hugs and kisses, but right from the start you sound like a pretentious bitch.

You won't review a book after finding 15 mistakes?'d never review a Stephen King book then. And If I search my bookshelf long enough, I can probably come up with at least another dozen well known authors who you'd give up on too. Sure, there are a ton (A TON!) of POD books that are poorly edited. It doesn't hurt to count mistakes. Floyd does that here, but he's positive about it.

But the tone you have set about it makes you unapproachable. Your rules contradict themselves. BUT...Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power. So best of luck to you!

The Self-Publishing Review said...

Shannon wrote, "I'm definitely not set against you... but right from the start you sound like a pretentious bitch."

I object to that. I'm a very down-to-earth person, and not pretentious at all. So there.

As for the rest of your remarks, you seem to have entirely missed the point of what I intend to do.

Many self-published writers insist that their books are as good as commercially-published ones: I'm seeing if that's true, and if self-published books can compete with commercially-published titles on real terms. For that to be the case then they HAVE to be relatively error-free, as well as well-written.

I wouldn't make allowances for errors I find in commercially-published books, and neither do you when you comment about Stephen King (although in the few of his books I have read, I haven't noticed errors); why should I have a different set of standards for self-published books? If their authors have decided that the books are good enough to be out there, then they should be good enough on all levels. Otherwise they're doing other self-publishers a disservice.

Finally, your obvious hostility towards me is rather odd considering you've not even read any of my reviews yet. I suggest you visit my blog again and read the rules that I put up there, in which I insist on civility and respect. If anyone name-calls on my blog I'll delete their comments without hesitation no matter how pertinent they are, or who they come from.

Al said...

OK, OK, let's all take a deep breath. At least let me make one small point, please.

It is this: who says an "error" is an error? I mean, by what or whose authority? College bookstores are awash in handbooks proclaiming a jillion rules for commas and suchlike, but they don't even agree with each other.

This is English, not French! We don't have une Academie Francaise to rule definitively. We never have had.

I don't care who you are, your grammar rules are not absolute and there is no final authority. English for the people!

The Self-Publishing Review said...

(Having another go at posting this, as my computer is insisting it didn't work the first time: apologies if it now appears twice.)

Al, that's a really good question, and the one that I expected everyone to ask on my blog--I'm glad you asked it here and I'm going to make this a post over there, too. Thank you.

Obvious errors are those of spelling and punctuation. Now, different people have different opinions on punctuation usage (how to punctuate ellipses is particularly fraught...), and different countries have different spellings: American "color" vs. British "colour" give an obvious example.

Grammar introduces a whole new area of confusion: while there are times when what's right and wrong are glaringly obvious, other things are more difficult to determine: there's an argument to say that split infinitives, for example, are perfectly allowable, despite the common perception that they are always wrong.

Finally, there's the author's voice to take into account. Sometimes what's correct isn't lyrical, readable, or interesting. The editor's aim is to help produce a readable, fascinating book: so if by "correcting" the text an editor renders it impenetrable, then they're not doing the job properly.

All that waffle boils down to the answer that in many cases, there is not one right or wrong way.

HOWEVER (and you knew that was coming, right?) there must be consistency throughout a book or else the reader feels uncomfortable, and is alienated. Which is what we don't want to happen. So if rules are repeatedly broken in different ways, then yes, that's an error. Similarly, spelling mistakes are definable errors; and errors of punctuation are pretty easy to pick up, too.

I've edited books for both the UK market and the American market, and for around twelve different imprints and publishing houses, which means that I've worked with a wide range of house styles, spelling rules, and authors. So I can be pretty flexible about which particular set of rules to follow. I'm looser about some of the grammar rules than others; I'm more pedantic about punctuation (I could go on at length about the correct use of the dash, but I won't here for risk of boring everyone even more than I have already).

I hope that helps answer your question, Al, and that I haven't bored the pants off you. As for the Academie Francais, I can't imagine the Brits putting up with it for a second. It's an outrage.