Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Publishers Weakly

According to this article, well known industry mag Publishers Weekly is going to "embrace the self-publishing phenomenon" and begin listing self-published titles in a quarterly supplement.

They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.

On the surface, it seems they're actually acknowledging this red-headed stepchild of the publishing world. They even claim they're going to review at least 25 self-pubbed books per supplement. Perhaps those indie authors who fought so long and hard for respect will finally get some recognition from the industry that spurned them.

Intrigued? Interested? Willing to give it a try?

All it takes is $149 for the processing fee.

For that fee, PW will print your title, author name, ISBN, and a brief description, in their supplement. The fee does not include a review.

We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.


They used the phrase "inform the trade" two different times, as if to hammer home the point that their magazine is there to serve the industry. At the end of the article, they even say, "books are our business."

Actually, this little venture seems more like "authors are our business." If PW truly believed in the worth and merit of self-pubbed books, and that their subscribers needed to know about this "phenomenon", then shouldn't they list these titles for free? If the trade really wants a compendium of self-pubbed ISBNs, surely this list will only make them more eager to sign up for another PW subscription, right?

But instead, I can't see this as anything other than trying to separate a writer from her money. The chance of being reviewed is dangled there like a carrot on a stick, but there are no guarantees. Which seems even less appealing than Kirkus Discoveries, which began offering a paid review service for indie authors a few years ago, and endured considerable flack for it.

The part that really makes me set my jaw, however, is this paragraph:

The entire PW editorial staff will participate in a review of the titles being considered for review, and we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen. No promises there, just letting some publishing friends take advantage of the opportunity to see the collection.

Ugh. And this article was written by George W. Slowik Jr., the president of PW.

Making indie authors pay for nothing more than a few sentences in a quarterly supplement (not even the actual magazine) is pretty pathetic. But saying that agents will see this, under the guise of making no promises that they will, is really yucky.

The $149 fee also comes with a six month subscription to the digital edition of PW, which is normally $90. No word about getting a partial refund if PW folds before the six months is over. But if they're this needy for cash, and willing to go in this direction to get it, I don't have high hopes.

Which reminds me--I haven't gotten an issue of 8-Track Tapes Weekly in quite some time...

90 comments:

Anna J said...

What clear-thinking person would do this? I wonder how many have rushed to pay this $149.

www.annajeffrey.com
"Sweet Water"-Kindle release 4/2010

Robin O'Neill said...

The ultimate is vanity press-type scams. The noob author coughs up a TON of money and gets nothing in return. Well, actually I knew a man who published with Commonwealth before they were sent to prison and he had 10,000 useless copies of his book in his garage. PW isn't promising anything.

Scam alert! ;-)

Joe Konrath said...

Newbies are desperate, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Some guy who just finished his book and has heard of Publisher's Weekly could mistake this for an actual opportunity to sell books, get a review in a big publication, and even find an agent.

Preying on the naivete of new authors has been going on for years.

What really drums the point home is that if you go to PW's website, the main banner ad, right on the top of the screen and covering most of the page, is for Tate Publishing--a vanity press.

PW also says they'll provide a "resource directory" of companies providing "services." In other words, ads for more vanity hawkers.

Writer's Digest has been accepting ad dollars from vanity presses for years. I guess you gotta go where the money is.

Mary said...

I don't trust anyone who feels they have a right to decide what's worthy to be read. I guess PW will have to get their bailout somewhere else.
They did promise something--To Take Your Money For Nothing.

Maria Zannini said...

So basically, they're willing to sleep with the red-headed stepchild as long as she's willing to pay to get into bed with them.

All that aside, paying for a review diminishes the objectivity of the review. How can I trust it?

R.J. Keller said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll spread the word. (And why am I not surprised about this?)

T. B. Wright said...

$149 for a listing in a supplement (not even the real mag) and a CHANCE at being reviewed (codeword for 'not likely')? I feel sorry for the indies that will undoubtedly gobble this up. And I feel even sorry-er for PW. Feeling the need to charge for something like this really is a sad turn for a mag I have always somewhat looked up to. I expected better.

www.TheMcClurePapers.com

Garry M. Graves said...

...PW's demise will come as no surprise. Wait, did I just say that? And even though they, like so many colleges, universities, lawyers, doctors...hate to think of themselves as 'businesses,' (it's so bourgeois), that's exactly what they are. Exception: Konrath and his tribe see PW for what they are...another failing elitists trad leech sucking for the last drop.

Jamie Ford said...

*facepalm*

Did they learn nothing from the Kirkus debacle?

Joe Konrath said...

Did they learn nothing from the Kirkus debacle?

Yes. They learned how to make some quick money at the expense of the gullible.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Ha, talk about vanity press! These clowns are veiled scam artists, using their final veneer of respectability to con some indies who still harbor some notions that the only "legitimacy" is in the corporate club.

This is appalling on so many levels--but first, make no mistake, it's still making sure the segregation exists--yes, you can come in the back door, sit in the balcony, and drink at their water fountain, as long as you are willing to pay dearly for the opportunity to be seen.

But it's also the most telling sign that the "publishing industry" is not YOUR industry if you are an indie. Because there is NOTHING PW can offer you that is really going to help you, because it is all about helping the publishing industry. it was never meant to serve writers at all. That's why they've quit writing about Joe and the other phenomenal successes--the only ones they write about now are the ones who have joined the club, like Boyd Morrison.

Then again, PW is going to be swirling down the drain with the rest of these unnecessary leeches. A flagship for a sinking flotilla is not one I am boarding, thank you!

Scott Nicholson
See me here at Joe's on Sept 3 for the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour--for free!

Anna Murray said...

I wonder, how much do the trad publishers pay for reviews in PW?

I thought Payola ("pay to play") scams went out in the 1960's.

Yes, it is a sign of desperation.

Ty Johnston said...

Do I make my check out to "Foolmeonce" or "Foolmetwice?"

I've been waiting to see what the new scams were going to be for the Kindle self-pubbers, but I didn't expect it to come from PW, at least not this soon.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Incidentally, there is a need and opportunity for an Indie Weekly or some other legitimate, respectable indie reviews and news sources. You know, the mag that will replace PW. There are a few people like Red Adept taking on the role, but it's going to be a big, big job but probably one with lots of rewards.

Scott

E.J. Wesley said...

I suppose if you looked at it as "placing an ad" for your book, the fee might be acceptable. Unfortunately, that $150 would probably be better spent on gas money to pub your book at bookstores, libraries, etc. And lord knows you could use it to fatten up ye old author beer fund.

There's end to the number of people willing to take a fool's money.

wannabuy said...

Scott said:
Incidentally, there is a need and opportunity for an Indie Weekly
As a dead tree magazine? No. One of the blogs will get a great reputation and rise to the top and replace PW. Who waits for a weekly when you can have daily reviews complimented by weekly summaries & series articles with easy access databases?

Joe's lampoon is the most appropriate response:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ja-konrath/is-print-dead_b_583959.html

Neil

wannabuy said...

We will not accept manuscripts or e-books (this time).
From the link:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20100823/44225-the-new-pw-select-a-quarterly-service-for-the-self-published.html

No e-books? Only those with an ISBN? Yawn.

Buggie Whip review...
Neil

Amanda C. Davis said...

What an intriguing acknowledgment that it is not, in itself, worth PW's time to sift through the dross.

author Scott Nicholson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
author Scott Nicholson said...

Neil, I meant "magazine" in the sense of a collection or aggregate, the same way we still say "album" for a collection of songs on iPod.

Like a Seth Godin sort of hyperhive. Media is living, interactive, rapidly changing, not fixed.

Kindle Nation Daily is doing a pretty good job of it, though without the critical analysis of individual books. Then again, readers seem to be doing a great job of it so maybe it is now unnecessary anyway.

Yes, we want our Indie Love and we want it NOW!

Thomas Brookside said...

Call me crazy, but I have less of a problem with this than most people here.

I think the only real problem here is that the offering is overpriced for what it delivers. If it was $29, I would not quibble with this.

I have believed for a long time that the whole "authors never pay for anything" cult that grew up around publishing was an anachronism and an obstacle to real professionalism in the field.

In the real world, people pay for professional services. And if you're a flake who wastes peoples' time, you pay for the privilege. Publishing is one of the few areas where it's expected that industry professionals will either indulge flakes for free, or will shut their doors to new business entirely.

I don't really have a problem with PW overtly charging a submission fee for a chance to get a review or with agents charging reading fees. Right now we assume that industry actors who do these things are scammers - but that's because the industry mores are set up in a way that prevents anyone but scammers from adopting these rational practices.

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Wait a minute! Aren't these the same people who have condemned and looked down on "Vanity publishing" and, until a few moments ago, have equated the Indie author movement with Vanity publishing? You know the kind where you PAY someone to have your stuff published. Okay, so authors pay $149 to have their stuff listed and, if deemed worthy, have it reviewed. In other words, the only guarantee an author gets for his or her money is some small line in some kind of magazine? A Vanity press at least gives you a book for your money. Sounds once again like an all win situation for the "establishment" and a pretty lousy deal for the author. That's not even mentioning the questionable ethics of paying for the possibility of being reviewed and listed, the kind of ethics the publishing establishment has denounced for ages. I guess, the Mighty Dollar rules again.

Miss Mahana said...

Ugh...is right! I have no words.

Trance St. Croix said...

PW is to be commended. This is the first major review magazine to offer indies an opportunity to get reviewed on a non-pay-for-review basis, meaning the reviews will actually be worth something for those who receive them.

This is a major step in recognizing the legitimacy of indie books. It is also a portal to recognition by those who deserve it.

The true gems will be brought forward.

Way to go, PW!

David Kubicek said...

I'm not convinced that a listing in Publisher's Weekly would do much for book sales. Years ago when I ran a small press PW reviewed two of the books we published (without us having to pay for the listing or review), and they were more or less favorable reviews. We got a few sales, but it certainly wouldn't have been worth paying for the listing. But when two of our books (which PW had declined to review) were reviewed in Booklist, we sold out the first printings within a couple of months.

Debbie said...

Let me see if I understand: PW will charge me for a print version of what Amazon currently offers for free?

Linda S. Prather said...

We discussed this on Kindle Boards yesterday, and I found it interesting. I guess as basic advertising it may have potential, but that really is all it is, and not seeing what the ad would look like makes me wonder if it would be worth $149.00. As to the review portion of it and the agent/publisher--they should have left that out and said, hey, we're opening the door for indies to advertise. If they wanted to do a review of a book received, great, but to dangle that carrot in my humble opinion was wrong.
I did consider a Kirkus Discovery review a couple of years ago, but talked myself out of it. The price was just a little too steep.

Aaron Patterson said...

Confused... if they were really here for books and authors why are they charging and why have a separate section? Does the reader care if it was a self-pub or do they just want a good read? It is like putting a minority in the back of the bus and charging them to be there under the guise that they are improving their social standing.

I would say to any self-pub author, do not be a pert of this scam. If your book is quality and the readers demand it get into the PW by your own merit. If the people scream loud enough they will review it no matter if you pay or not.

This is not just a bad idea on the part of PW and a outright slap in the face of every author. Who are they to say that how you publish marks how good of a writer you are?

Anyway... preaching to the choir...

Joe Konrath said...

Way to go, PW!

How's the pen name thing working out, Jim? I'd like to know your reasoning behind it. Aren't you worried people will buy the books under both names?

You're publishing a lot, and pretty quick. That gave me an idea. What if I took a bunch of old, forgotten pulps, then republished them under a single name? I wonder if anyone would ever catch on?

Geoff said...

Publishers WEAKLY... ah, I get it. You cheeky bastard. :D

Seriously though, the title made me chuckle.

But this doesn't surprise me in the least. PW charges for EVERYTHING! I subscribe to their e-mail list to get a view helpful tips for free - some of which I've really liked. But other than that I wouldn't buy anything from them. It's all over-priced and most of what they offer is readily available for free on the 'net by the industry people willing to share it.

I mean, really, why would I pay upwards of 75 bucks for a "webinar" from an agent who blogs about the topic for free on a regular basis?

But hell, at this point I don't even pay for food I'm so broke. So what do I know...

amy@indiereader.com said...

You can pay $149 to PW for a possible review or pay $149 to IndieReader (where indies are not considered the ugly stepchild)--and, if your book is accepted--get reviewed, get promoted (a recent NYTimes piece, an upcoming Top 10 for More magazine)and if the book is not accepted...get all but $25 bucks back. Sounds like a better plan.

Tuppshar Press said...

Reviews are an interesting phenomenon. They can help sales, but only if they are in the right place, by which I mean they must be seen by likely buyers of a book. In addition to the high price tag, I find the PW offer to be questionable in this basis. Who is going to see these reviews and listings? Are they likely to be the audience for the book?

And as to agents seeing them, remember that agents are already swamped with manuscripts; how will this PW supplement change that? Will the knowledge that an author has paid $149 change that agent's business decision about whether the book is marketable?

If you want reviews, find bloggers and others who review the kind of work you write, contact them in a professional manner, and ask them if they would like to see your book. If they say yes, ask them what format they would prefer, then take the $149 and use it to either print up review copies (Lulu is good for this) and mail these to the reviewer, or send them an electronic copy.

Then, if they do review your book, send them a short, polite note and thank them, even if their review is negative. Remember that this is a business, and you will be judged by how professional you seem to be.

Falling for an obvious scam is not professional.

Moses Siregar III said...

It's a steep price and I think this move should be criticized for that reason.

One thing I'd like to see before I know how much it deserves to be criticized is what percentage of indie books they will actually review. If they are reviewing 25 out of every 1,000 books, then this is an outright scam.

If they are reviewing, let's say, at least a third of the titles listed, and those titles do seem to be the most polished works, then that would be much better.

If someone wanted the digital PW for half a year (normal cost, $90), then it's an additional $59 for this lottery. Let's say you get such a review and the review helps you sell an additional 28 ebooks at $2.99. Then the $59 cost is covered and the rest is gravy.

I have to say, this might work for them if they do a good job of reviewing well-written, enjoyable works. It could be another way for indies to separate themselves from the pack. But this all depends on what percentage of books they review, and if their reviews correctly identify quality works. I'll wait to see that before I consider whether or not this might be worth it to me.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

What if I took a bunch of old, forgotten pulps, then republished them under a single name?

Joe, I've dreamed of doing this myself. I would LOVE to, in fact. I wouldn't know where to start with the copyright issues, etc.

I actually got a huge bunch of great Mexican Horror/Vaquero comics and I really wanted to try and publish those (translated) in the US. No luck yet.

Bob said...

It's all about where the money goes. When money goes from the author to the vanity publisher, to PW, wherever, it's bad for the author.

PW, like most of traditional publishing, is ignoring reality. I've been in publishing over 20 years and the two ways I always described it was 'technophobic' and 'slow'. Can we hear the dinosaurs in the tar pits braying now?

I'm a NY Times bestselling author, with over 45 books out, and my next manuscript is being published by my own publishing company, Who Dares Wins. It's not worth waiting 6 months for NY to decide whether or not they want it, and then another year at least while it's in production. Besides, like Dorchester, some of those companies aren't going to be around in 18 months.

I will be.

Dan McGirt said...

Joe:

Fully agree with your take on the PW move. But I think the bigger book news of the week is Seth Godin's announcement (as reported in WSJ):

"In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans."

That plan does sound familiar. If only someone had foreseen this and warned the book industry...

Moses Siregar III said...

From the irony department, here's today's PW piece on B&N's second quarter loss.

B&N has posted a net loss of $50 million after the first two quarters of 2010, though fwiw, they say much of that is investment into digital initiatives and their overall revenue was actually up 21% for the quarter to $1.4 billion-with-a-b.

Their online revenue for the quarter was 14% of their retail store revenue.

In the 2nd quarter, BN.com online sales were up 42% while store sales were down 2%.

Quote:

CEO William Lynch acknowledged that its trade book market business was under "some pressure," but that the company still expected to benefit from the coming consolidation in the physical bookstore market.

The last part seems a little ironic to me given that their in-store sales are declining, but who knows.

Zoe Winters said...

I swear to god, Joe! I have a post about the exact same thing queue'd up for tomorrow. I would have posted it today except I have a guest on my blog today.

Vincent Zandri said...

Wow, a bottom feeding scam from one of the most respected pubs in the trade...Don't look now, but the horse is dying.... or should I say dinosaur!

www.vincentzandri.com

Stacey Cochran said...

This reminds me of a catchy little tune: I Want Your Money.

Sing it aloud.

Michael N. Marcus said...

This means that PW officially _is_ a vanity publisher.

PW says it's going back to its roots. Apparently its roots were whores.

New book: "Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company: Make a better deal. Make a better book." Due around 9/1. http://silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing/selfpubcompanybook.html

wannabuy said...

Archangel,

I read your post in the last comments and really appreciate the insight. If you decide to do your own full length blog article, I would appreciate a link on the history and changes within the publishing industry. The tidbits on 'multi-media' are very analogous to 'enhanced e-books.'

Scott:
It looks like we are in agreement. Thank you for the link. I already found one book there I might buy (I need to eat through my collection a little first. :)

Bob said:
Can we hear the dinosaurs in the tar pits braying now?
ROTFL


Neil

Jack H. H. King said...

"James Patterson's novels are sleek entertainment machines, the Porsches of commercial fiction, expertly engineered and lightning fast."

-- Publishers Weekly

Moses Siregar III said...

I think the only real problem here is that the offering is overpriced for what it delivers. If it was $29, I would not quibble with this.

I have believed for a long time that the whole "authors never pay for anything" cult that grew up around publishing was an anachronism and an obstacle to real professionalism in the field.

In the real world, people pay for professional services.


You and I are in the minority, Thomas, but I agree with you on "money flows to the writer." It's a good rule of them to protect the gullible, but in no other business that I can think of is there an accepted mantra that says, "Don't invest money in your business."

Money should flow to the writer, or from him if the money is wisely spent as an investment in his career.

In this case, I agree it's too much money unless you really want a 6-month digital subscription to PW, and then only if and when we find out that PW really is reviewing a large enough percentage of worthy self-pubbed works. If not, then this is a complete scam.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

the Porsches of commercial fiction

JACK! This took me by surprise--I laughed shot water out my nose!

A.P. Fuchs said...

This is terribly disgusting news. Once more it's just hammered home that in the eyes of the industry, self-published authors aren't "real" authors.

Isn't an author someone who "authors" something?

Isn't a writer someone who writes regularly or a painter someone who paints regularly? Isn't a cook someone who cooks?

It's up to indie authors and publishers to spread the news to newsbies that stuff like this is dangerous.

Self-publishing doesn't mean losing money and/or spending a ton for little, if any, reward. Sadly, due to all the traps out there, this is what happens more times than not and only feeds the stigma instead of removes it.

Now I'm in a bad mood.

www.canisterx.com
A.P. Fuchs on Kindle for $2.99 or less. All Coscom Entertainment monster and superhero books on sale for the same.

Moses Siregar III said...

Devil's advocacy, continued.

Here are the conditions under which this might not be so bad.

Condition A: It's shown (later--we don't know this yet) that PW is reviewing a high enough percentage of indie works submitted to them, and that they are doing a good job of identifying good books.

If condition A is met, continue. If condition A is not met, Game Over.

Next step. Do you meet all of the following six criteria?

1) You are a new, indie writer. If you're established, you don't need this.
2) You'd be happy to pay $90 for a half-year digital PW subscription anyway (it comes with the $149 submission).
3) You've got $59 more dollars that you can responsibly gamble with.
4) You will use the $149 as a tax write-off.
5) If you get a good review from PW, you will creatively use it to market your work, and you think you can use it to sell some additional ebooks.
6) You are looking for ways to demonstrate that your indie book is of good quality.

In that case, then I don't see the problem with this. Again, if you can turn the review into 28 ebook sales at $2.99 or 21 sales at $3.99, then it pays for the $59. Actually, you'd need less sales than that considering the tax write-off.

Joe Konrath said...

In that case, then I don't see the problem with this.

That is the problem.

If PW gets 1000 authors who think like you do, they've just made $150k, and the overwhelming majority of authors got a print listing when they were all hoping for a review and possible agent representation.

Anyone who ever bought a lottery ticket did so because they thought "I might be the one." But the fact is the overwhelming majority of ticket buyers don't win.

I don't see how a listing will help any indie author. PW goes out to the publishing industry, libraries, and some bookstores. It doesn't go out to readers.

If you're hoping that you'll sell enough books to libraries, or that some indie bookstores will carry you, based on the chance you might get a review, that's just a lottery dream. Which is what PW is banking on. They hope all newbie authors are dreamers who have faith that "my book" will be one of the chosen ones.

Moses Siregar III said...

But Joe, what about what I said was condition A? I would never even consider something like this unless and until it was shown that PW wasn't just taking people's money. If it was proven that they are A. reviewing a good enough percentage of indie books, and B. they are doing a good job of identifying good books and going out of their way to review those very books, then the lottery argument doesn't apply if you have objective criteria telling you that your indie book is actually good.

In that case, there would be a good chance that good books would be identified, and then this could be useful to you.

Even on Amazon, I look at PW reviews. If a PW review is good, it adds real credibility to a book. If you're not only an indie, but a new indie, then you need all the credibility you can get.

There are a lot of conditions that need to be met before this is a reasonable program. Until then, it's a scam until proven otherwise. But I want to see how many indie books PW is reviewing, and if they are identifying quality books, before I make up my mind.

LK Rigel said...

Let me put it this way.

When Space Junque comes out next month, I really hope Red Adept likes it.

PW isn't something I think about at all.

Moses Siregar III said...

When Space Junque comes out next month, I really hope Red Adept likes it.

PW isn't something I think about at all.


Ha! I sent her my novella just this morning.

Nicole MacDonald said...

They can go jump! What a bunch of tossers - really it's a sad day when the people who are supposed to support writers start scamming them..

Stitch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

Hey, this is a great idea. And I'd like to reciprocate by inviting all doomed and nearly irrelevant publications to submit a description of their failing rag to my blog, which I will publish for a nominal fee of $49.00.

tom said...

What idiocy.

The most telling portion of this announcement was ". . . we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen . . . "

Duh, exactly what kind of feedback do you believe "a few agent friends ... (and) publishing friends" will provide about these indie ventures.

Just who does PW think is responsible for this new emerging market?

It's not only insulting, it's downright dumb.

JA Marlow said...

Another Pay-To-Play scheme along with another writing lottery (the POSSIBLE review). When I first saw it my mind immediately went to the money problems PW has been having and seeing this as an attempt at new cash flow.

How does this help the author? Just to be listed? Readers aren't going to look at this to find new books. That's what browse and search is for in the online bookstores.

What a waste of time and money. And I see the word 'scam' peeking from around the corner...

And I see you turned off anonymous comments. Thank you for that, although It means I have to be sure to be in the right Google account in order to post.

Selena Kitt said...

Publish-Whores Weekly is more like it. Pay me and we can get all horizontal together and stuff (but you won't get any nookie, just a quick feel, did I mention that? Oh it was in the small print, sorry...)

They need a better pimp or sumthin...

Joe Konrath said...

the lottery argument doesn't apply if you have objective criteria telling you that your indie book is actually good.

If you pay for it, it isn't objective. If it's exclusionary, it isn't objective. If the customers are the authors, not the booksellers and libraries, it isn't objective.

PW wants your money, probably because they aren't making enough doing what they're supposed to be doing: informing the industry.

This is like auditioning for a Broadway play and having to pay to get into the theater.

Publishing is one of the few areas where it's expected that industry professionals will either indulge flakes for free, or will shut their doors to new business entirely.

That's because publishing is one of the few industries that makes its money by discovering and cultivating talent. If we start paying publishers to look at our work, they don't have to make money by selling books. They can make their money from newbies.

It's black and white, no gray areas. Once an agent or publisher takes money, their business plan changes because their source of income changes.

Wading through crap to find the gems is a job requirement.

Moses Siregar III said...

If you pay for it, it isn't objective. If it's exclusionary, it isn't objective. If the customers are the authors, not the booksellers and libraries, it isn't objective.

PW wants your money, probably because they aren't making enough doing what they're supposed to be doing: informing the industry.

This is like auditioning for a Broadway play and having to pay to get into the theater.


You misunderstood one of my points there; sorry if it was unclear. I was saying that if and when it's shown that:

A. PW is reviewing a lot of indie titles and not just 25 out of however many they get. And ...

B. PW is reading through the slush, so to speak, and choosing to review indie books that are of good quality (so that their review could be used to do things like interest book review sites, online book clubs, random readers, etc.) ...

Then if *you* have some objective basis for believing that your work is good enough that they might consider reviewing it (i.e. this does not just include your own opinion), then you could spend your $59 in much worse ways. And it might pay for itself many times over. This is for indies who need some extra cred to get their work out there, not established authors (who don't need this at all).

If all of these things happen, then there will be some people who use this to actually make more money rather than just pissing their cash away, and I think it's only likely to be worth it to people who want the subscription to PW.

BUT, first it needs to be shown that PW isn't just running a scam, and IMO that's not something we can determine until we see how many indie books they end up reviewing. I'm suspicious, though.

notesfromnadir said...

I didn't realize that Publishers Weekly had become PublishAmerica...when did this happen?

Joe Konrath said...

Then if *you* have some objective basis for believing that your work is good enough that they might consider reviewing it

That's the problem, Moses. *Everyone* believes their book is better than the rest.

It's why 90% of people believe their above-average drivers. People can't be objective. And unless your peer groups is a bunch of professional writers and editors, they won't give you an honest assessment of your work.

there will be some people who use this to actually make more money rather than just pissing their cash away,

Everyone who buys a lottery ticket thinks this same thing.

And it might pay for itself many times over.

How is that provable? And what happens if you do get a good PW Select review, put it on Kindle, and some jackass commenter gives you one star and says "He paid for the review."

PW Select is just a big bag of fail.

As for getting the PW digital subscription, that disturbs me. I'm wondering is PW is doing this to boost subscriptions. They count this project as new subscribers and then they can tell their parent company/stockholders that they're showing growth, when in fact they're only running a payola scheme. But it's even worse than payola, because at least when DJ's were paid they could actually sell records. I have very little faith that a listing (or review) in a self-publishing quarterly supplement will be poured over by libraries and bookstores, who are already inundated with catalogs and magazines from publishers, distributors, and the big 4 (Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, PW.)

Justin said...

I like PW, and read it every week. I also now people who haved worked at the mag, and it's not anywhere near a scam or wretched hive of scum and villainy.

I suspect the fee is not to gouge people or to sell subscriptions, but to keep their submissions to a half way managable level.

Assuming that is true, I think they'd be better of just selecting books to read.

That said, I can't see the utility of this for ebook authors. Publisher's Weekly is, as the name implies, a trade mag. I read it because I'm a librarian, but it is not a magazine that public is goinbg to read in a way that would meaningfully impact sales.

I suppose a good review might help, and maybe you'd get a print editor's interest (although this seems unlikely).

Assuming you don't mind spending the 150, there isn't a huge downside.

Worst case, you get a bad review that no one who is going to read you book will probably read.

Not as worst case, you don't get reviewed.

Best case, you get a sterling review that you can parlay into some hype.

I know I've wasted $150 on worse.

Moses Siregar III said...

That's the problem, Moses. *Everyone* believes their book is better than the rest.

It's why 90% of people believe their above-average drivers. People can't be objective. And unless your peer groups is a bunch of professional writers and editors, they won't give you an honest assessment of your work.


I definitely agree, and that's why I specified that you'd have to have some kind of objective criteria (in this case, reliable outside sources) other than your own opinion. We agree that there are ways to look for credible opinions outside of yourself about the quality of your work.

Once you've done all you can to verify from qualified sources that your work is up to standard, you have to go for it. The worst you can do is fail, and failing is preferable to doing nothing.

You're right that many if not most will find a way to believe their work is ready whether or not it is, but not everyone is that blind. And if you are that blind and your work is dreck, then maybe it's fitting that you get taken for a ride and learn a hard lesson in the process.

My point isn't that PW isn't taking advantage of some people here. They are, and I understand criticizing them for that. My point is that there may also be some people who can realistically use this opportunity to their advantage, if they fit certain conditions and if PW is first shown to be providing a good enough percentage of reviews to quality works.

Joe Konrath said...

And if you are that blind and your work is dreck, then maybe it's fitting that you get taken for a ride and learn a hard lesson in the process.

A review doesn't mean it will be a good review. Subjectivity is in play.

PW has given me some good reviews, and some bad reviews. I didn't pay for any of them, and none of them either pleased me or upset me. But the books they didn't like sold well, and others did like them and gave them good reviews.

If I'd paid for a review, and got panned even though I knew it was a good book, I'd be angry.

A bad PW review doesn't mean the book is dreck. Or that a book is good. So why pay for it?

You want to gamble that your book will be reviewed, then also gamble it will get a good review? That makes no sense. I'm pretty sure all of my books are good, but I've still gotten bad reviews.

My advice: avoid this, and tell others to do the same.

Moses Siregar III said...

Thanks. I'm playing devil's advocate because I'm ornery like that.

I'd have to wait until next year and see how they're handling this before I'd even consider it. Even then, it wouldn't be worth it to me unless I want the PW subscription, and I'm not sure I want one.

I doubt that I would do it, really. If the price was more reasonable, though, I'd consider it more seriously.

evilphilip said...

My blog gets over 350,000 readers a month (No, I'm not kidding or exaggerating.).

For $25.00 I will be happy to announce your indie book (including the cover art) on the main page of my blog.

You will NOT get any additional sales from that link (since it is a video game blog and not a book blog), but you will save $125 over what you would spend with Publishers Weekly and get the exact same results.

LOL.

Scathach Publishing said...

I don't think pw understands why people have gone Indie. This would appeal to people who had gone indie because they were getting nowhere the traditional route but ultimately still wanted a contract that way.

Think about it. Instead of going through the slush pile agent editor start again routine, you simply self-publish, submit to PW and they review your work in a magazine that all the publishing dudes will read. Oh, and they invite friends to read it.

Seriously, this could give you more chance of getting traditional published than the slush pile system.

Of course, like I said, I don't think publishing weekly understands why people self-publish.

I did a blog carnival recently. There were supposed to be 13 people involved, but more kept piling in on the last day. I think it ended up at 18 or so.

Not one of them said "I'd rather be trad pubbed. I'm just doing this til PW offers me an easier way."

Susan Bischoff said...

Sorry to go all YA on you, but...this just grosses me out. Totally.

Thanks for showing me the skeeviest thing I've seen on the internet this week.

On. The. Internet.

Sue Collier said...

PW Select is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to increase revenue without offering anything of real value. Call it what it is: a paid advertisement. Agents and publishers are not going to pore over these listings to find projects. And to attempt to mislead authors into believing this is the case is low. Really low.

Joe Konrath said...

Robert Swartwood was the one who clued me into this. Checking Google, a lot of others have picked up on it, and they're not being kind.

Unfortunately, I'm sure PW will still get some suckers to pay for this.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

"Unfortunately, I'm sure PW will still get some suckers to pay for this."

We'll find out in the next "quarterly supplement". My guess is that it will be full of self-published books. People will look at it for two seconds before it goes in the recycling bin.

I blogged about this, too-- and I was pretty critical, but honestly I don't blame PW. It's a revenue generating tactic, and it's not as if it's illegal. Why should the vanity publishers get all the money? PW wants their little piece of the pie, too.

Rabid Fox said...

Wow. I have heard of cash grabs, but this one sounds particularly seedy. I gotta read this again to make sure I understood it properly, because that's just damned shady at first glance.

Tuppshar Press said...

Joe: "That's because publishing is one of the few industries that makes its money by discovering and cultivating talent. If we start paying publishers to look at our work, they don't have to make money by selling books. They can make their money from newbies."

This is one of the wisest things I've read in a while. While I'm not quite so dismissive of vanity presses as some, I do believe that they are the wrong choice for anyone who sees what they are doing as a business.

Scathach: "I don't think pw understands why people have gone Indie."

This is also wise. There is an assumption made by many that people who self-publish are just people who couldn't "make it" in the regular publishing world. But in fact there are probably nearly as many reasons people don't submit to traditional publishers as there are people who don't submit to traditional publishers. Some, of course, are those who want to be published by such publishers but haven't been, and who see self-publication as a way to do so. Some are angry and want revenge on the publishers who rejected them.

But there are others. Maybe some want to put their words into a book for their family and friends. Maybe some see writing as a hobby and self-publishing as a part of that hobby. And in the past two years, there are an increasing number who have looked at publishing from a business standpoint and have seen that it is possible to make real money at publishing because the old system is no longer the only game in town (this is as true, I can attest, for small presses as it is for self-publishers).

But as Scathach said, clearly PW doesn't understand this.

Barbara Silkstone said...

I love the way you always call things as they are. If it quacks like a duck... it's a duck.

Moses Siregar III said...

Btw, if anyone here already has a subscription to PW, or wants one, you will get to enter your book in this for free:

In addition, we will provide a free 6-month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly. Current subscribers, whose subscription and authorship are in the same name, receive one free listing as a subscriber benefit. During registration please include your subscription number, from your print label, instead of the credit card info.

If I already had my work in print (right now I'm just in e-), and if I wanted a PW subscription, I'd have to consider signing up for a PW subscription right away, because I think that means I'd get one of these PW self-published listings for free. Since they haven't opened up registration yet, I'm guessing that would work if you get a subscription before they start registration. What I don't know is if there will be a stipulation that you need to have had a subscription prior to a certain date, so this may or may not work. I'm guessing it will, though.

Moses Siregar III said...

I don't think PW understands why people have gone Indie.

I don't see it that way. Some people who self-publish want to be traditionally published, or they want to be published both traditionally and independently.

Even those who want to stay pure indies may still be interested in getting into more libraries or bookstores, or they may want to increase their chances with agents, or they may want another review that they can use for promotions, or to impress book review sites, or they may just want the review for their Amazon page.

Still, it remains to be seen how many reviews PW will actually do with these books. They're saying "at least 25." If they get 1,000 submissions and only do 25-50 reviews, then that will be extremely unethical, IMO.

Jenna said...

Hmmm... A "service" by PW that's more expensive than an eReader. Yeah, not paying for that.

BTW, Joe, you called it - the third eReader listed in this article will be out in September, reportedly with a version @ $99.

http://www.idealog.com/blog/three-new-ebook-platforms-nearing-their-debut

Joe Konrath said...

I'd have to consider signing up for a PW subscription right away, because I think that means I'd get one of these PW self-published listings for free.

Or save $180, sign up for PW Daily and Publishers Lunch (both free).

Moses Siregar III said...

Or save $180, sign up for PW Daily and Publishers Lunch (both free).

I subscribe to both, but the paid PW description is the full magazine in digital format. Is it not much better than the free newsletter?

Excuse Me, Miss said...

Exclusive Amazon Deal Called Off: Is The Struggle Between The Wylie Agency And Random House Finally Over?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/24/exclusive-amazon-deal-cal_n_693120.html

evilphilip said...

"Exclusive Amazon Deal Called Off: Is The Struggle Between The Wylie Agency And Random House Finally Over?"

Score one for the big six. Go team!

Victorine said...

My 8-Track Tapes Weekly subscription just expired! But I haven't gotten one in a while either. I think I'll renew it though, because I think 8-tracks are making a come back.

rex kusler said...

Don't discount the giants. In the mid-1980s the Japanese were selling chips (dumping) for less than it cost to make them, in an effort to drive the American chip manufacturers out of business. It worked until the government got involved and put a stop to it.

It looks to me like the NY houses are adopting that strategy. From free to 79 cents--look around. We're surrounded. Circle the wagons. Price your books at 99 cents or less.

rex kusler said...

Now that I think of it, Konrath is starting to remind me of Custer.

Imagine if Custer would have had a blog...?

evilphilip said...

"Now that I think of it, Konrath is starting to remind me of Custer."

I'm not a historian, but I seem to remember that things didn't work out so well for our friend Custer.

(Unless you believe the theory (put fourth in my novel) that Custer escaped Little Big Horn and spent his remaining days hunting Bigfoot and Wendigo in the Rockies.)

bowerbird said...

smells
like
scam
to
me.

-bowerbird

Archangel said...

thanks joeK and also selena the pun-ista and Susan B, true wit, made me laugh. Thank you.

PW may be bleeding just like all other mags. Look at stats on Crains on immense closure of mags, downpaging of mags in print. Many mags just in last six months, gone poof

Monetizing via newbies ebook publishing appears to be the rock bottom remainer ploy. I never bought a lottery ticket for $149. Dont want to. Dont want newbies to, either. I'll blog on it this weekend.

It's odd, $149 to maybe kinda sorta be reviewed by an anonymous reviewer who doesnt sign name, cd be grad student homework, to have pw moniker which majority of young readers under 30 have never heard of, wrapped in a quarterly supplement that words words and more words will likely not get read; libraries cutting way back on buys of print, mags, etc., and a few agent 'they know' etc., now who exactly would those be by name?

I keep thinking you wouldn't pay a guy $149 or even $10 to babysit if you didnt know his real name, that he was reliable, was going to show up and follow through and do a good job. Nor a car mechanic, nor a doctor. Speaking of business; that's the coin of the realm: a real up front agreement, followed through, payment contingent on, NOT paid before service.

Reminds me of the bogus 'poetry contests' of eld, and also the 'who's who' books that attempted to 'lure' authors or others vain but more often I think simply naive... into being considered (all were accepted no matter if they played the drainpipe in C minor) and therefor the naive paid a stiff pricetag (in order to ah, ahem, be LISTED... and then the poor newbie could receive 1 copy of the volume and 'order more for your loved ones at only 89.99 per').

I'd agree with others here: get reviewed on blogs that reach your audience or a new audience. Better yet, do an interview. You can have a second order observer via a reviewer; but most peeps, in food, sex and many elsewheres, really appreciate first person.

Also, you can ask permission to run the interview on your amaz. pages, or put in backs of your ebooks, and credit link website. log-rolling: good.

The prob w/ many mags, regardless of mission, as always in pub, not money perhaps; but rather using old inner circle tactics that ignore the potentially huge and young --and pretty wild-- readership...and authorships.

I had my own doubts about self pub til read dan poynter's work, talked to various, began to understand that vox populii is little different than vetted, for personal tastes vary so widely in readership. For a long time authors have acted like publishers are Pope, saying one is either a believer in (pope) or an infidel to go off and dare to take control of your own destiny.

Separate but equal is something many of us fought against for real these many years. To be a second class citizen while paying full freight and then some, seems ethically in error, not to mention conflict of interest to be paying people who review, call it a tax, call it a fee, call it a subscription; you realize, right? that subscription numbers are used to raise ad rates to advertisers...

Ai.

Pale Rambler said...

I'll keep my money. Clever marketing from PW to try and open a new revenue stream but ultimately just a bait and switch scam served up with nose-in-the-air attitude and mounds of condescension. If I gave a crap about the possibility of an agent seeing my book, I'd send it directly to an agency.

Archangel said...

@pale rambler. I'd agree. From just a brush as an agent, not sure I'd want to look at listings of authors who paid $149 each to be listed. What would be the point? Most, agents look over letters and first chaps for free.

alanrhaps said...

Publisher's Weekly is just the latest variant on what has become a common scam. If you're going to spend a hundred bucks, spend it publishing your book through Lulu and promote the crap out of it with your wits. Paying to be listed in a directory is most always a mistake for writers as well as for most web publishers.