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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Publishers Weekly Now Reviewing Self-Pubs?

Yes . . . it's true. Publishers Weekly is now accepting submissions of self- and indie-pubs for review.

On August 23rd, 2010, the revered reviewer of traditionally published books announced that it had opened its doors to the previously-shunned self-published market with a service it has dubbed PW Select.

Yay! . . . right?

Well, hold on a second. Let's look a bit closer. According to PW:

"We are returning to our earliest roots. PW dates to 1872, when it was first known as Trade Circular Weekly and listed all titles published that week in what was then a nascent industry. We have decided to embrace the self-publishing phenomenon in a similar spirit. Call it what you will—self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.

"To that end, we are announcing PW Select, a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment."

Sounds great. Okay, a quarterly Supplement containing reviews of self-pubs and indie-pubs may not be quite the same as including the reviews in the weekly magazine itself. But it looks like a step in the right direction.

PW goes on to say: "The first supplement will appear in our year-end issue in December. Each quarterly will include a complete announcement issue of all self-published books submitted during that period. The listings will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information provided by the authors, who will be required to pay a processing fee for their listing. At least 25 of the submitted titles will be selected for a published review."

So not all submitted titles will actually be reviewed -- only listed. Well that's better than nothing, right? And maybe your title will get reviewed.

Oh . . . did I mention that it costs $149.00 to submit your title to PW Select? Please note that, according to PW, this is not a "reading fee" or a "review fee." It is merely a "processing fee" -- presumably to cover their costs involved with this process of "listing" your book in the quarterly supplement.

I don't know about you, but something about this arrangement smacks of big business -- once again -- taking advantage of the dreams and aspirations of writers. What's the difference between charging a review fee and a "processing fee"? Oh that's right . . . you probably don't get reviewed.

Why not pay Kirkus Discoveries the low, low price of $425 (up from $350 earlier this year) and get a guaranteed review? You know the review will be a good one, too. Otherwise, no one would pay $425.00 to submit their book. (This is, of course, the problem with paid reviews. If the reviewers don't give positive reviews, authors will not hire them in the future.)

So what are we to make of PW's statement that "We are returning to our earliest roots"? Is charging for the possibility of a review really any different than charging for the review itself. In my humble opinion, it's not. PW Select seems to be just another play for the author's money to help bolster a flagging balance sheet in the traditional publishing sector.

I wish it were otherwise. But sadly . . . it's not.

Maybe more cheerful news in my next post.

All the best. And thanks for stopping in.


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