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May 26th, 2009

11:27 AM

Peek at POD

Recently Mr Orr of one of my favorite indie/self-published book review hangouts, PODBRAM, was saying there seemed to be a decline in the number of such sites devoted to the review of such books. Hmm, I don't know whether it's such a loss, actually, given that you need devotion and dedication to maintain such a site, and it takes time for a site to build an audience and a review archive in order to be useful. As long as POD People, Her Odyssey, and PODBRAM are around, I won't be hitting the panic button yet, although I wish None May Say is  back in business.

I've said it before and I've said it again: the audience for indie book review sites is pretty small because for so long, the players in the industry are so focused on the authors and the process of getting a book published that they ended up alienating potential readers. Review sites are a great way in recapturing readers who have come to feel that self-publishing is all about stoking the authors' ego, but it takes a very dedicated and patient person to keep a site running. The audience of readers isn't there, the audience of authors can get tad too melodramatic when it comes to reviews they feel are unfair, and the brain sometimes shuts down after one too many badly-written and shoddily-edited book.

Me, I'm not exactly a POD scene player and I review indie books only when I come across a book that catches my fancy in one way or the other, so I'm not exactly concerned about audience or author's reaction. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the hard work of POD activists like the folks of the blogs I've mentioned above, Julie Dawson, Ron Miller, and such though. I don't know how they keep doing it, but I'm glad they're doing it.

PS: As much as I enjoy checking out new review blogs (they tend to be blogs nowadays, heh), I cringe whenever I come across one where the reviewer will state openly that he or she is qualified to review those books because he/she is a self-published author and therefore he/she understands the pain and trials those authors had went through. To me, this only means that the reviewer is writing reviews for authors rather than readers, so I will always wonder whether a good review is justly given or is just given to placate the author's ego. People who want to help POD/indie authors should start instead an information blog or website for these authors. It is people who want to help readers find good indie books (as opposed to helping authors sell books to readers) that should start review sites.

2 comment(s).

Posted by veinglory:

Personally, I feel the self-POD arena will have matured when most reviews are from sites like this that cover self-POD according to the reviewer's interes, not the publishing model. That is the level playing field everyone proclaims they want. POD People et al was started only because other sites simply refused to even consider self-POD. I can only hope that that will gradually change.

(I cannot help but notice that the self-POD review sites that burn the most indignant, tend to burn out. I can only assume it gets tiring... :) ).
May 27th, 2009 @ 2:01 AM

Posted by Cheryl Anne Gardner:

I think this bravenet thing is going to let me post now. Lordy.

On June 4th in my Thoughts on the Craft column, I will be discussing the "Interpretive Reviewer/Reader" at length. You might find it interesting, especially as far as the qualifications for being a reviewer are concerned.

I do think authors should glean something from reviews of their work, obviously it will help them improve -- works for me -- but reviews shouldn't be written from an author-centric POV. Or even a business model POV. I think they should be written from an unbiased academic POV. This gives the readers the insight and opinion they want, and it gives the same to the authors. That is if they aren't so melodramatic that they can take it. I review mainstream books with the same level of academic attention that I review self-published books with. I don't see any reason to treat the process differently. I don't review genre books any differently than I review Literary works.

Being a critic isn't a pleasant job, but if we do it well, with integrity, then readers and authors alike will get the most benefit.
May 27th, 2009 @ 4:35 AM