Friday, November 21, 2008

Authors Den Redux, Part II: Book Reviews

Book Reviews for iUniverse Authors – (7/12/06 – Marketing)

Would you like a review of your iUniverse book? Visit my blog site: iUniverse Book Reviews.

My attitude toward iUniverse is unlike the horde of what I call the slap-fighters on the POD blogs and message boards. I am tiring of the snotty attitudes of those people, both the ones who have their own blogs and those who just pop up and dominate message boards created by others. I have only three negative things to say about iU: price, price, and price. They charge too much in set-up fees, book retail prices, and wholesale prices to the authors. Absolutely everything else I can say about the company is professional and positive. I have no interest in supporting competing companies, so this offer is for iU authors only.

iUniverse Book Reviews – (10/16/06 – Marketing)

Would you like an honest review of your iU book? Would you like to have reviews posted on four separate websites? What would you pay for this service? How does free sound?

I have a blog site on which I post reviews of deserving iUniverse books. The author only has to visit the site, read the submission guidelines, and contact me with a request for a review. After researching the book to see if it meets my qualifications, I will respond to the author with a physical address where the author can send the book. As you can read on the website, these qualifications are not according to genre. The selected books must meet high levels of quality, grammar, editing, and/or research. The other qualification is that the authors must not be cheaters. You can read my definition of cheaters on the site.

We all know that the proliferation of five-star reviews of POD books on Amazon, as well as on the many paid-for-review sites, are not exactly legitimate reviews. There are many more small business sites who offer the reviews as part of a paid package. You may have already discovered one or more of the following issues. (1) The best, most respected review sources are very difficult to attain for an unknown POD author. (2) Many sources that once had openings are now closed to submissions. (3) A few sources claim they will probably read the first page of your book, laugh at it, and then give it away. (4) Some sites have an open submissions policy, but make the author wait for months for a review. (5) Some websites offer free reviews, but their email communication with the authors leaves a lot to be desired. (6) Some websites offer free reviews after a long period of time, or you can pay them to move your book up the list. (7) Some sites will put a review on their own website, but will charge you just to copy and paste the same review onto another website. (8) Some sources claim the rights to your review so you cannot post the review on other sites yourself. (9) Some sources offer reviews only as a part of an expensive marketing package. (10) How good is any review that you had to pay for in the first place?

Any iUniverse author who may be interested in this generous offer is encouraged to visit the blog site. You need to read through many of the posts to get a feel for the project. This is not quite like any other review site out there. You can cross-reference reviews of the same books at Amazon, B&N, and here at Authors Den. The way I see it, you can pay the reviewers who are in it only for the money, or you can thumb your nose at them. The choice is yours.

Open for Submissions – (11/10/06 – Publishing)

The iUniverse Book Reviews blog is open for submissions.

The blog for free, legitimate book reviews for iUniverse authors has, as of this moment in time, an opening for the next book to be read and reviewed. There are currently no books waiting to be read and selected for review. Respond now and be the first in line. If your request for a review is selected, the first book that arrives is the first to be read. Visit the blog and read the submissions posts for more information. You can also read more of my reviews at Amazon, B&N, and here at Authors Den.

Book Reviews Made in China – (2/12/07 – Publishing)

Do you remember the Made in USA promotional concept that used to be touted so proudly at Wally-World? Do you also remember when it began to dawn on you that that statement was no longer exactly the truth?
Welcome to the new world of book reviews! There are a zillion books now being released using technology and marketing that did not exist in 1997, and every author of these books is looking for someone (anyone?) to review his or her new contribution to the World's Greatest Novel Contest. Where there is a buck to be made, there is an American ready to make it. No, these reviews are not actually sweated out of children in China like the entire electronics department at Wally-World, but they may as well be.

There are at least seven types of sources for reviews of the multitude of POD and small-press books. Don't forget the many new, individual authors who have come upon the brilliant idea to create their own imprints just so the potential reviewers and booksellers will not recognize the publisher's name. I don't have much respect for this sneaky little horde, but that's another story.

(1) There are the traditional print sources that will laugh as they take advantage of the author's desperation by selling her book on the Used page at Amazon for selfish profit. If you think they want to read your latest iUniverse book, I have a bridge to sell you.

(2) There are a few well-established online sources that might be interested, if you're very lucky or put Anna Nicole Smith's name in the title.

(3) There are numerous small, genre sites that will review your book if it meets their specifications and interests. Some of them will even post a copy of the review at Amazon, or allow the author to do so.

(4) There are the genuine sweatshop equivalent pay-for-review sites. Many of these disguise their real purpose by offering free reviews, too, but how accurate can these free reviews be? If it walks like a duck....

(5) There are reviewers at Amazon that post thousands of reviews. Are they paid? Who knows? Have they actually read every book they review? Who knows?

(6) How many of the reviews posted at Amazon and elsewhere are by friends and relatives of the authors? How many of these have actually read the books?

(7) At the end of the trail, there is the De Facto POD Review Ring.

The reviews of POD books at and and the other Ring members have nothing in common with Chinese sweatshops, the profit motive, or favors from friends. These two blog sites have very little in common with each other, either, and there is nothing wrong with choice or variety. Each site handles the task of slush pile management with a methodology indigenous to the goals set by each of the website proprietors. POD-dy's site requires the author to request a review via an electronic submission of the material. If POD-dy likes the first line of the first page, she may read the rest of the page. If she likes the first page, she may read the first chapter. A very few of the books submitted to her are actually read to the end, and a very few of these receive reviews posted on the website. In contrast, Tabitha explains many detailed elements required for review acceptance. When a request is received, the author and her book are immediately researched online to see if the requirements are met. Once these are found to be satisfactory, Tabitha notifies the author for a copy of the actual book to be submitted.

As a reader, I would not hesitate to accept whatever book has been reviewed by Tabitha or POD-dy as having a genuine Made-in-the-USA label. Much like those ever-more-elusive reviews in established publications, the books have actually been read with critical eyes by POD-dy and Tabitha. More and more of the reviews of POD books we see from those other sources every day may actually be coming from China.

The De Facto POD Review Ring – (5/2/07 – Publishing)

Are you looking for a review of your POD book? We may have what you are seeking.
Eight reviewers of Print On Demand books have joined together to form a blog ring. One of these sites currently has twelve reviewers. Some of them have only one. Some require that you submit a genuine, published POD book. Others accept digital formats. Some review only limited genres. Others will read most anything. All offer honest, legitimate reviews for authors and their readers. This is the no-fluff, no-flim-flam, no-spin zone for POD books.

If you want a glowing review in which the reviewer acts as if he hasn't seen the hundred typos and boo-boos you left between the covers in your haste to become a real, published author, then look elsewhere. If you just want to stand back and insult those who have tried while you claim that all POD books are nothing but trash, then please don't waste our time gracing our blogs with your presence. If you think you can quit your day job tomorrow, after your review has been read by the most famous agent in the publishing industry, you have another think coming. If you think we won't notice your Third Grade grammar or the tractor-trailer tire tracks through the middle of your plotlines, then you, by all means should not submit your book to one of us!

For those of you who have read this far, and have provided your own private questions and issues with the correct answers, then we, indeed, may be your Holy Grail. The slap-fightin' fatheads who despise POD books still won't like you. Not a single book may be sold at Amazon, no matter how much credibility you may think we (or you) have. The chain store clerks may still treat you like an insurance salesman; the newspapers will go on printing without you; and Larry King will never mention your name. If you submit to one (or more) of us, you can tell your author friends that you have at least approached the gauntlet. You may even want to submit to a bunch of us and brag that you actually ran through the gauntlet.

A new feature has just been added to my blog site. The Review Ring Chart provides the potential gauntlet runner with a quick-reference guide to The De Facto POD Review Ring. From this chart, you should be able to discover most of the information you seek about us within moments. You absolutely should follow the links to the blogs to read far more extensive information about each of us and what we do, but the chart should start you out on the right foot. Just take a deep breath and click the link.

IAG Stands for Independent Authors Guild – (11/8/07 – Publishing)

A group of authors is in the process of forming a new Independent Authors Guild. Come on over and join us on the ground floor!

Our goal is to create new marketing avenues for self-published books. This brand new operation is still in the process of setting up its website, newsletter operation, and message board. You are being directed to the iUBR site, where you will find a somewhat critical introduction to IAG. Links from this critique will lead you to the IAG Message Board in Yahoo Groups, as well as to a very simple, two-page website that is currently in transition to another server. You can read the history of the group in the critique, comment at iUBR if you want, and move on over to the Yahoo Group. You can locate the upcoming, work-in-progress IAG website from the IAG Yahoo Group. Thank you for your patience. Like I said, the concrete foundation is still wet! Watch your step!

Book Reviewers Wanted – (2/2/08 – Publishing)

Is anyone interested in becoming a book reviewer at iUniverse Book Reviews?

iUBR is the premier legitimate review site for iUniverse authors. Books are reviewed here from the standpoint of a total, honest critique. I started the site in July 2006 for the sole purpose of reviewing those iUniverse books that deserve attention from more readers. iUBR has no relationship to the company, and all reviews (and interviews) are provided free to the authors selected for the services.

I would like to expand the number of books that can be reviewed on the site. Recent visitors to iUBR can see that a second reviewer has recently been added, but I would really like to have many more qualified reviewers. If you are interested, please visit iUBR, examine the various pertinent posts and contact me. You can do that by making a comment on the blog, commenting here at Authors Den, or by sending a direct message to ice9 at e-tabitha dot com. Thank you.

Attention POD Authors Seeking Reviews – (4/25/08 – Marketing)

As of April 1st, 2008, iUniverse Book Reviews is accepting submissions from POD imprints other than iUniverse.
We now have a team of six experienced, talented, and specialized reviewers at iUBR. You can request a review either of two ways. Send a message to ice9 at e-tabitha dot com or post a comment with your website or contact address to any post at iUBR. It never hurts to do both, just to make certain that I receive the request. Click the links in the left column of the website to learn much more about our team and what we do at iUBR.

There is a massive amount of helpful information for POD authors contained in these links to posts both inside and outside iUBR, so take your time and stay awhile. The post entitled How to Strip-Search a Book explains our procedures in detail; however, the five satellite reviewers offer individualized versions of this process. The satellite reviewers compose only one review instead of three or four, as I do, but their cut-and-paste reviews are posted on additional websites. Talk about personal service! Please note: requests for reviews by Lulu authors will be referred to our associates who specialize in reviews of Lulu books. Thank you.

Have You Visited PODBRAM Lately? – (8/15/08 – News)

POD Book Reviews & More (PODBRAM) has come a long way since we began operations as iUniverse Book Reviews a little over two years ago.

Since its inception in July of 2006, we at PODBRAM have worked diligently to refine our goal of being the best POD review site on the web. Recent features have been added that should make the site easier to navigate. We have a remarkably experienced and diverse team who select only the most promising books for review. All reviews are posted on various other sites, as well as at PODBRAM. Some of the reviews are customized in content for other sites, some are posted as is to other sites, and some are composed individually for each site.

You can apply for a submission to PODBRAM by sending a message to me at ice9 at e-tabitha dot com. Requests are generally handled within a couple of days, and some within minutes, if you catch me online with the team members at the time your submission is received. We accept books from practically all genres of all publishing types, from self-published to traditional; however, we lean somewhat away from poetry, pornography, and children's literature. Each team member has generally favorite genres, so occasionally a submission has to be rejected simply because the reviewers interested in that genre are already overwhelmed at the time you submitted. We try to select our reviews carefully, seeking particularly noteworthy books that have received minimal previous attention.

Even if you are not seeking a review, pay us a visit to see the articles we are posting. Our most recent additions have been an extensive story from one of our team members about her POD experiences and from another about questionable five-star reviews. New reviews and articles are generally posted every few days. Links to particularly relevant websites are always included with these posts. The long list of links down the left column will take you deeply into the world of POD, from how-to articles to marketing advice to author interviews to lists of other legitimate, free reviewers. Come see us, ya'll!

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