Monday, August 23, 2010

Paid to Publish? Now, Pay for Reviews

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware just tweeted about The New PW Select: A Quarterly Service for the Self-Published, which will begin listing self-published books and review those "most deserving of a critical assessment," starting in September. Authors must pay a listing fee of $149, which includes a six-month subscription to the digital edition of Publishers' weekly.

I almost snorted Diet Dr. Pepper out of my nose when I read this article, and that is just not fun! Soda in your nose actually stings, much like the article and that processing fee. One hundred and forty-nine US dollars. Really? Really really?

"But Lisa," I can hear you saying, "You've paid to publish. You said so on this blog. Why does another fee bother you?" Well, since I'm sure you're asking, I'll explain. I'm an indie publisher, not a self-publisher, by my definition. If I were truly a self-publisher, I would have my own espresso book machine at the ready, churning out books all day, or at the very least, I'd be in Kinko's every night running copies. Since I have a life beyond writing and publishing, I don't own the mechanism whereby my book is printed and shipped out to anyone who orders it. Amazon's Createspace does. So, it is perfectly reasonable for me to pay Createspace for the service of making my book available. How else would anyone read it? Someone has to print it and that sure won't be me, as I don't have the time or skill.

The $149 fee to pay someone to list a book with the potential for a review is entirely something else. Note that PW "maintains our right to review what we deemed worthy," and that the processing fee is for the brief listing - not a charge for the review. I can only assume this means any piss-poor, self-published book will be listed, but likely will not garner a review from the editors. At least, that is my hope. Yet, that would mean a writer has paid $149 to have PW print their name, book title etc. in a list of the potentially hundreds of self-pubbed books, so that possible readers can become passively aware of the book. Something that a good web presence, like a website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Twitter, can already help a writer accomplish. For free.

I hate to pass hasty judgment, but I will. Sorry. First I must ask, what is about those of us who go the non-traditional route that some people just assume we're willing to pay for anything? I suppose the blame lies in the stigma that's still associated with self-publishing. I am aware of a few other outlets already charging fees of this sort, but I won't list them here because their approach disgusts me. Instead, I'll just get on with the process of requesting reviews from legitimate sources, like those who won't charge me for their opinion.

I'm drawing the line in the sand, folks. While I will pay to be published, I won't pay for an opinion of my work, but I'm sure others have and will continue to do so. For those people, I leave you with the sage advice of Victoria Strauss: writer beware.


Francine said...


As if! Pay to be reviewed?

No way.

Pay to be published?

No way.

If I was going to self-publish I'd do it through Amazon. It's easy, it doesn't cost, and you just get all your blogging buddies to review your book.

The trick to Amazon sales is: you and a few friends buy your book, at the same time you buy a few books top bestselling writers in your chosen genre. WHY? Because Amazon automatically lists your book alongside the bestsellers with headline: people who bought this book also purchased .... ..... .... ... - alongside sits your front cover image!!!


N. Gemini Sasson said...

When I first began reading the news about this, I thought, "Oh, things really are changing a lot, aren't they?" Then I got to the part about the fee... Hmm yeah, I'm not convinced either that would be the most effective use of those dollars.

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Michelle Gregory said...

things just get weirder and weirder.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks for weighing in. I knew I wasn't the only one who sees this plan for what it is. Even better, JA Konrath agrees:

Consuelo Saah Baehr said...

Remember when Boarders offered to allow us to upload content on their platform for $89? Uh huh. And look what happened to Borders. Publisher's Weekly, like the appendix, is struggling to remain relevant and has mis-read the intelligence of indie writers.

PW, like, trad pubs, has not understood what is happening and adjusted their business.

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