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Finally Publishers Weekly to Review Indie Books, But at What Price? Sep 2010

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Aggie Villanueva | 7 comments I'm so happy to share this news, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

Most of us have heard the August announcement that starting this December Publishers Weekly Selectwill select the 25 best indie books to review in each new quarterly listing.

It About Time

Self publishing authors have been taking the rogue road in droves for ages now, slowly getting recognition from places like Amazon Encore, being included in a few national best-selling lists, and even people likeObama’s brother and traditional publishing industry’s own employees turning to self-publishing. A Publishing Person Self-Publishes.

Traditional publishers are beginning to listen to bloggers’ books reviews, whether traditional or indie. The list goes on, and we can now add Publishers Weekly to it.

“In recognition of the boom in self-publishing and as an acknowledgment that valuable works are being published outside traditional publishing, PW is giving self-published authors a chance to present their titles to the publishing trade. Call it what you will–self-published, DIY, POD, author-financed, micro-titles, or relationship publishing–the phenomenon is upending the publishing world.” Welcome to PW Select, at Publishers Weekly.
PW President George Slowik Jr. posted The New PW Select: A Quarterly Service for the Self-Published , saying, “We are returning to our earliest roots. PW dates to 1872, when it was first known as Trade Circular Weekly and listed all titles published that week in what was then a nascent industry.
“We have decided to embrace the self-publishing phenomenon in a similar spirit. Call it what you will—self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.”
So this December we’ll have in our lil’ author paws the first ever traditional-industry-created list of indie books and PW reviews of “at least” the 25 best. Indie authors with a finished book can register to be listed in the seasonal supplement that will be bound into issues of Publishers Weekly.
Overprints will be available for purchase and a digital edition and online database made available. All titles published during 2010 are eligible for inclusion in the first PW Select this December. “We will also focus on the opportunities that the self-pub world offers. A resource directory will accompany the section offering names of companies providing services in the DIY space.”
Great news but with a price: a processing fee of $149.
The announcement of this fee caused comments ranging from mild to stern disagreement, to tirades against “one of the cheapest and most blatantly idiotic, unethical ploys since…” You get the picture.
How do I see it? I’m signing up as soon as my new how-to book, The Rewritten Word, has a purchase link.
Is this because I’m in full agreement? Not at all. But I must admit it’s one of the cheaper advertising fees I’ve come across. Is it fair to have to pay for inclusion that is free to traditionally published authors? Of course not. Baby steps.

I’ve stuck with and nurtured the indie publishing revolutions this far. I won’t be left out of any of the cracks that open to me. How ‘bout you?

Instructions for registration.

Register your Indie book.

Read this article online here:

message 2: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments My initial reaction would be, why would I care if Publishers Weekly lists my titles or not? What exactly would exposure in their trade give me?

Trade publications are what they are, publications for the members of the industry. For the most part their exposure is intrinsically limited and a lot of it is really vanity celebration as industry people try to become more prolific in order to increase their own profile so they can get a better paying job in the future, or to raise their company's stock price. Neither is of any importance to me as an indie publisher.

So, really, I am not sure why PW would be of any real importance or relevance to indie publishers. Or am I missing something?

message 3: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments A good review in PW will get you orders from bookstores and possibly purchases from libraries, too.

message 4: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments That makes sense. However, the way I read the announcement, they have no plans to review such titles. It is merely a listing of indie books that you buy into without any editorial references. Or maybe I misunderstood the announcement.

message 5: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments true, if it's just a paid ad it might not get much attention, but i was noting this reference: "...and PW reviews of “at least” the 25 best." so the real key would be to get in the 25 best of the list.

Perhaps you have to pay to be listed to be even considered for the review process which would make sense - it's an obvious clever ploy to get a ton of indie authors to pay to be in the list in the hopes of getting reviewed.

message 6: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments David wrote: "it's an obvious clever ploy to get a ton of indie authors to pay to be in the list..."

And I think a lot of indie authors will if only to gain a cache of legitimacy, so it might actually pay off for PW.

message 7: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments yep. And it might actually pay off for the author too if you make the top 25. Whether it's worth it will depend on how many there are on the list and how they narrow it down to the to'd think they'd have to read all of them to decide which are the best 25!?!?

message 8: by Guido (new)

Guido Henkel (guidohenkel) | 130 comments Yeah, that "best 25 of them" struck me odd, too. They have their work cut out for them if they plan to read all submissions, hahaha!

message 9: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments Indeed. Perhaps they'll be judging books by their cover. :-)

message 10: by Dr (new)

Dr | 134 comments As writers, authors and book sellers, we will get loads of requests to list our books. There is nothing wrong with this on free sites. If they sell a book and are linked through a retail e-book sales unit, they make money. However, when we are asked to pay to enter, list, compete, share or even market our books, then beware. The customer is you and not a reader of your book. I am sure most of us have been approached by someone who has a "for profit" website. again, if it costs you nothing, why not? We have some of these among us here and I welcome them for their support and don't deny them a chance to make a living. It is the, "Pay me and I will make you rich" people we have to be wary of.

Cream will rise to the top and if you have a good book, sooner or later it will be on the best seller list. If you don't believe me, ask Shakespeare.
Dr M

message 11: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments I'm going to have to disagree with you Dr. Although your points are well-intentioned, i feel you're misguided in two places.

1) a good book may never be on the best-seller's list.
Perhaps you are being hyperbolic, there are many good books that are too experimental, avant-garde or even difficult or challenging to make the best-seller list. If the best-seller's list is the judge of quality, then The DaVinci Code is one of the best books ever written. There are plenty of great books that don't make the best-seller's list.

2) I agree with you in general that we should be careful of being charged for useless promotions. In order to get awareness of our book in the world, we have to make smart marketing choices. Even sending out a review copy costs something (postage, the printing of the book, the mailing envelope). So the key is to make smart choices. I think whether this list is a smart choice or not is TBD. It will interesting to hear from those who made the top 25 and see if it boosted their sales or not. The results will tell the tale.

message 12: by Aggie Villanueva (new)

Aggie Villanueva | 7 comments Hey, thankx to all for your thoughts. Love it.

Hi Guido: My article title announces that reviews are the "hopeful" result. "Finally Publishers Weekly to Review Indie Books, But at What Price?" Also the links in the article lead to PW's full explanations.

It's totally unfair that we are charged to be listed (which is the only chance for review). For most of us it's just a paid ad. And advertising pays.

But as David points out we must make smart choices. And PW is one of the most reputable places we can choose to spend our advertising dollar. The proof is in their endurance and industry reputation.

If our feelings are really that hurt by the way we've been treated by them, we can spurn all traditional publishing industry (and lower ourselves to the level which the industry occupied towards us until recently) and in the process miss out on opportunities.

I for one will keep my eyes open and answer when opportunity knocks. That's how I've gotten where I gotten--ill feelings aside and conducting myself as a professional.

I'm with you, David. I plan to submit my 2010 book but the results will tell. And if it gets me nowhere, I've lost only one of the most inexpensive advertising fees I've seen offered.

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Wiseman | 7 comments I might be in the minority here, but I think $149 for an advertisement is no small fee and must be weighed against the cost indie authors are charging for their books.
My book sells for $4.99, so my cut is $3.49. I'd have to sell 42 books just to cover the cost of that one ad.
Would that ad really generate 42 book sales? I guess that's the question.


message 14: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments As you're pointing out, Tom, the answer will vary from author to author and book to book. My first novel sells for $12. I can't remember what my cut on Amazon is, to tell you the truth, because i don't sell many books there any more (i self-published in 2000), but when i sold direct to bookstores, my cut was $7.20. I think Amazon took more than the book store, so i'm going to say they took 50% for sake of argument. That means, i'd need to sell about 25 books to break even. (I'm not including printing cost because i did a large offset print run in the beginning and made that money back a long time ago.

It will be interesting to hear from anyone who uses it, whether it helps them or not. It might be hard to track the results.

message 15: by Aggie Villanueva (new)

Aggie Villanueva | 7 comments David, it's true it's almost impossible to track. And yes, Tom, $149 for an ad is really cheap!

You can't gauge a book sales amount when the opportunity for exposure is so great. Sales always come much later, after you've worked and worked (and yes, spent your own money with no return at first) to get yourself out there. Little by little you'll gain contacts, followers etc. Then sales will happen.

But I believe here is where authors make their mistake, in thinking in terms of ROI. Publicity is what I'm paying for when I sign up with this PW program. And publicity gets your name out there, gives you recognition. It's truly hard to track ROI in this area. At least in the beginning.

But without publicity most of us will never make a sale, except for family and friends. So that's my reasoning. It's a small fee for the number of people who will see my book listed there. And who knows where that will lead.

message 16: by Gwen (last edited Oct 05, 2010 05:54AM) (new)

Gwen Mayo (gwenmayo) | 18 comments In my opinion this isn't an opportunity for us independents to break into PW. They are selling us ads and calling it inclusion. I won't pay for being treated as a "second class" author. We are not going to be taken seriously by publishers, libraries, or anyone else who sees our books listed this way.

If I shell out the money for an ad, I'll put it some place that matters more to me as a writer, like Goodreads.

Gwen Mayo Circle of Dishonor

message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert | 34 comments We'll see more of this in the future, advertisement disguised as promotion.
If you pay = advertisement
If you don't = promotion.
Even the big houses only advertise in WD or the NYT's Book Mag to please their A-list authors, not to sell books that is sell enough books to pay for the $$$ spent on the ad.

Robert Mykle

message 18: by Dr (new)

Dr | 134 comments Gwen wrote: "In my opinion this isn't an opportunity for us independents to break into PW. They are selling us ads and calling it inclusion. I won't pay for being treated as a "second class" author. We are not ..."

One of the problems facing authors or apple growers is always going to be people who want to jump in and take advantage of sellers. There are so many people devising schemes to share in the rewards, and most don't do a bit of good for the author. These schemes are usually designed to help someone looking for a free ride. "Give me this and I will make you rich' is as old as the hills. "Old lamps for new!!"

Hey, even the reputable companies are in on it. They know how to take advantage of a person's ego and desire to be successful.

You make a good observation and your comment is well taken.
Dr Robert E McGinnis

message 19: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) As I understand it, there will be a fee to be featured in a seasonal supplement, and from those whose books appear in the supplement 25 will be selected for review. So while this is not paying for a review, it is paying for an opportunity to be reviewed.
The principle advantage of being reviewed in Publishers Weekly is that the reviews are really "previews" - books are submitted well in advance of publication and reviewed about 2 months in advance of release so that booksellers (primarily indies, since chains may have already been approached by way of Sales) can place orders.
In this category of selected reviews of self-published books, will it have the same effect of driving pre-orders?

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