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...