Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Earlier this morning, after making my circuit of other blogs, I decided to contribute something to the blog POD-DY MOUTH besides my usual and predictable opinion of self-publishing. So I went and read the sample of Lauren Carr's novel POD-DY was touting. I then took some time to comment on what I thought the failings of Carr's as well as Todd Noker's books were and also some thoughts on other self-published books I have read. I returned to the blog a little while later to discover that its proprietor has decided to remove the ability of readers to leave comments.

She did this because the comments invariably devolved into a wannabe writers' forum and flame war between people with vanity books who think that because one out of 30,000 POD titles gets picked up by a traditional publisher, it could happen to them and those like me who kept telling them that self-publishing was a dead end for most writers.

Very few of the comments were ever actually about the book of the moment that POD-DY was showcasing.

Which conduces to the conclusion that even with a blog that has gotten some attention online actively promoting a few POD books, nobody still wants to read them. Nobody cares about POD books except their authors.

If that isn't the nail in the coffin of POD and self-publishing as a possible escape hatch for writers shut out of a real deal with a real publisher, I don't know what else is.

I've read three self-published books. One was an ebook, the other was Jonathan Widran's Hooray For Holly-what? (iUniverse), and the third was T. B. Pawlicki's Exploring Hyperspace, which you might be able to find online with some effort. Including my reading of the Carr and Noker excerpts, my opinion of self-published books is pretty poor.

Pawlicki's book is the only exception. It was actually published between covers in the mid-80s, but is impossible to find. I discovered it around 1990, when a friend on a computer bulletin board told me about it. If you like science popularizations like the works of Michio Kaku, you should read Pawlicki's.

Now that comments have been disabled, I venture to guess the number of visitors to POD-DY MOUTH will drop to low double digits per week.

Frankly, I never could quite understand why this blog even existed. Although its proprietor was anonymous, she represented herself as an author of two novels which were published by a reputable trade publisher. She said her raison detre was that she enjoyed finding the occasional gem in the junk pile of POD titles. Fair enough. We all have our hobbies.

Only, based on my reading, there are no gems among POD books. The occasional self-published book that manages to be converted into a trade book is a freakish miracle. What I find puzzling is this comment from POD-DY about her decision to end comments:

"After some long discussions with my agent, editor and friends in the biz, I have decided to take the road like Beatrice, Maud Newton, Bookmouth (read this article on POD, by the way), Robert Gray, etc. and make this blog information-based and less like Writer's.Net."

Why would her agent or editor give a damn whether the blog had comments or not or even existed at all? Since she remained anonymous and never gave the titles of her books, I don't see how her blog could have been a promotional tool, and that would seem to be the only reason her agent and editor would care.

The occasional POD book that gets some attention is a miraculous freak, like the Elephant Man. But just as the attention the Elephant Man received didn't make him Cary Grant, so too these books aren't particularly good, just lucky.

Sometimes when you find a pile of horseshit there's a pony, but most of the time there's just a pile of shit.


Blogger Mark said...

Who is she? Those flamers followed me around. Apparently I was the one writer with PODs they didn't want to hear from. Look for Goldberg to pick up the dregs along with the fanficcers. He's got Kitty hitting on him already. Pitiful. Even that Montgomery jumped on their side just to poke me in the eye. Mercenary flamer.

My books keep getting rejected still. "I don't know how to represent that," one said from Trident.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

Hiya Mark:

Re: the Trident rejection you received. Check this blog out. It's an agents' attempt to decipher rejection letters.

"I don't know how to represent that"

That's a meaningless response. I've had similar rej letters. I've written four book proposals since 1992. One sold, because the book originated with an editor at Digital Press through my former agent who still emailed me editor's wish lists.

The three proposals I originated got plenty of rejections. All told maybe ten letters gave specific reasons why the agent/editor wasn't buying. Everything else boils down to "we don't like it" without telling you WHY they dislike it.

5:03 PM  

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