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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Self-Published and Vanity Press Need Apply

I get a lot of e-mails asking me to read stuff.  Some of them are from major publishers, but the vast majority are from self-published authors looking for a review to hang their hat on.  I struggle with those requests.  On the one hand, I think self-publishing is a perfectly legitimate path, assuming the authors recognize the hurdles they'll have to overcome and the reason they are self-publishing in the first place.  On the other, there's no arbiter of goodness and thus, most of them aren't very good.  If some are good, but most are bad, and no one will risk their time to review them, how do these authors find success?  Unfortunately, they don't (mostly).  It's a vicious cycle, a self fulfilling prophecy, a catch-22!

Here's where I come in.  First, let me make something very clear, I will not review self-published work any other time except through posts like this one.  I get a ton to read through my own purchases and review copies from the big (medium and small) presses.  I'm carving out this slot because I want to be supportive of the community.  Second, I'm not going to sugarcoat anything.  I won't Liz Bourke you, but I'm going to be critical, and may even mock you a little bit (example, example).  If it's great, I'll say that instead and sing your praises from the mountaintops of Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Without further ado, here's the deal:
  • If you'd like me to review your book, comment on this post.
  • I will choose one (1) winner via random draw.
  • In your comment provide me a way to contact you, your book's title, and a very brief description of the book.
  • I will actually buy your book (if it's for sale), so this is also a sale!
  • I will only read books with SFF elements.
  • If you're writing paranormal romance, be aware it's not my cup of tea.  If I randomly select your PNR book, the odds of me liking it are slimmer.  I'll still review it, but it may not be pleasant.
  • The offer will be open until February 16 -- that's two weeks from today.
  • I'll announce the winner on Friday, February 17 and I commit to having a review of the work done by month's end.
I toyed around with trying to do this last year, but wasn't sure how I wanted to work it.  If it goes well, I'll do it again some time in the future.  If nobody comments, I'm going to feel like a jack-ass.  With that in mind, who wants to be first?

Labels:

33 Comments:

At February 2, 2012 at 10:44 AM , Anonymous Tim Murphy said...

I'd like to submit RISEN FROM EMBERS for consideration. It's an alt-history novel in which the birth of Christ has been prevented: http://deusabsentia.com/trailer.html

tim@deusabsentia.com

 
At February 2, 2012 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Bibliotropic said...

This is an awesome idea! Even if you don't end up choosing a certain book, simply commenting here with the request gives the author and their work a little boost in exposure. And it also gives you great control over what you read and helps keep you from being inundated with requests.

I regret that I don't have anything self-published to submit for this. I'm just commenting to say that I really like the idea, and may end up doing something similar in the future myself.

Hope this works out well for everyone!

 
At February 2, 2012 at 10:49 AM , Anonymous Bibliotropic said...

My commentary below has just been proven! I figured that even if the book doesn't get chosen, just commenting here might be a boost in exposure for people and help generate interest. I've got to say, your book sounds like it's got quite an interesting premise! Best of luck!

 
At February 2, 2012 at 11:30 AM , Anonymous Scott B Robinson said...

The opportunity, Justin, is not only rare, but also exceptionally fortunate considering the quality of your reviews. I believe you've characterized the truths concerning self-publication perfectly. It is an alluring path with many pitfalls.

Okay, I will leave off with the flattery there...

I would like to enter my magical realism eNovella "Ati" for the lottery. It is the tale of an Indonesian pirate abandoned in Bangkok where she and a Thai sculptor, plagued by a mysterious curse, try to uncover the secret of a black box.

The work is available for free download via:

http://scottbrobinson.net/Ati.php

My email address appears on the above site. Or you may DM me on Twitter @TheYoungFate.

Best of luck with the work you draw!

 
At February 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM , Anonymous Mark Lawrence said...

There are 2 self pubbed books I'd like to see you review (so I know if they're any good). I could point the authors here ... I probably will, but as a place holder. Soulborn by Kevin Breaux and The Written by Ben Galley.

 
At February 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM , Anonymous Mihir said...

Hi Justin

Good idea but I definitely feel you shouldn't limit your Indie reading. I have discovered some real fine authors among the Indie lot. Since I don't know whether they'll be seeing this post, I'm going to nominate my them:

1] Tim Marquitz - Check his Demon Squad series for a darker, black humorous ride as seen through the viewpoint of a Half-demon/half human. [ask B., he'll vouch for this one]

2] David Dalglish - His Shadowdance trilogy is one of my fav. trilogies ever read. Action packed & darkly twisted, this series was inspired by GRRM's AGOT.

3] B. Justin Shier - Another UF writer whose Zero Sight series is one of the best debuts that I have ever read, giving us a protagonist who channels Kvothe & Harrry Dresden and yet is very likeable.

PS: Mark, thanks for the reco. about the Written, will be checking it out.

 
At February 2, 2012 at 8:19 PM , Blogger Stefan Fergus said...

I've heard great things about Kevin Breaux, and have actually bought Soulborn - I intend to read it ASAP. I've also heard good things about a guy called Tim Marquitz, but haven't tried anything by him, yet.

 
At February 2, 2012 at 11:36 PM , Anonymous Mark Lawrence said...

@Mihir I've not read The Written - but the cover rocks & the author comes across as a nice guy working hard against long odds. The same can be said of Kevin Breaux / Soulborn (I've not read this either). When I see these guys plugging away I know how badly I would have fared trying to follow the same path.

 
At February 3, 2012 at 4:14 AM , Anonymous Mihir said...

Hi Mark

The cover does rock and the blurb while a bit generic, does seem exciting. I like trying new author as you never know what you might discover[Marquitz, Dalglish & Sheir being prime examples of the diamonds].

I've read & reviewed K. Breaux's SB and now will be doing the same for its sequel as well. Yeah the Indie path can be a tough one & the good authors definitely need to be read by more fantasy fans.

 
At February 3, 2012 at 5:39 AM , Blogger Michael J. Sullivan said...

Justin,
I think this is a great idea - I have no dog in this hunt but I do appreciate the approach you are taking.

 
At February 3, 2012 at 5:45 AM , Blogger Justin said...

I think this is my point. These guys are doing well, but all the people who e-mail asking for reviews aren't. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Tim and David and J.A. and Nathan (etc.) have big "shelf" presences. Those guy's don't need another small time blogger to read them.

The problem is, I have no idea how to pick from the hordes of e-mails I get or Amazon's clustfuck of search results. So, this is my solution -- random draw and shenanigans!

 
At February 3, 2012 at 7:49 AM , Blogger Phil said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks for taking the time to give us self-published authors a shot! I'm going to throw my hat into the ring and submit THE GRIND SHOW for your consideration. You can contact me at pwtucker@gmail.com, and here's a brief description:

For those who can see demons there is but one maxim: hunt them down until your luck runs out, and then hope for an easy death.

Or so Jason thought until one hellish night in a desert ghost town leaves his life in ruins and his soul tainted with demonic power.

Now the tables are turned and he's the prey, forced to fight a running battle to keep himself and his friends alive. But at what price is he willing to buy his freedom?

 
At February 3, 2012 at 8:28 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

Hey Justin, have you read Moses Siregar's The Black God's War?

 
At February 3, 2012 at 8:36 AM , Blogger Ady Hall said...

Hi Justin,

Thank you for the chance of a review.

Feng Shui Assassin is a gritty thriller with elements of urban fantasy and holistic murder.

Free on Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/165

And a site charting the self-pubbing efforts - http://www.fengshuiassassin.com/

All the best
Ady Hall

 
At February 3, 2012 at 1:22 PM , Blogger Justin said...

I've not Paul. Heard mixed things. I think I remember you liked it.

 
At February 3, 2012 at 4:24 PM , Anonymous Dalton Chad Everett said...

Justin,
This is a wonderful thing you're doing!
I'd like to submit my book "Brothers In Darkness" for consideration. It's an Urban/Modern Fantasy tale following a professional thief who takes the wrong job, becoming indebted to a group of sinister beings. He's tasked with recovering their ancient artifacts, Objects of Power they'd abandoned when forced from our world long ago. If successful, wealth and long life are his. If he fails...

Along the way he finds many of these powerful artifacts have already been located. Endowed with terrifying supernatural abilities, their owners range from collectors to philanthropists to a serial killer, and none are inclined to surrender their treasures. Combining biting humor and tense thrills, at heart it's a fast paced action adventure. The characters' journey changes him, forcing him to look past his personal ambitions and accept his responsibilities to the world he lives in.

It's currently available online only in hard copy (http://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Darkness-Dalton-Chad-Everett/dp/1466398515), but if selected I could just email you the original PDF. I can be contacted via my Wordpress blog: daltonchadeverett.com

 
At February 4, 2012 at 2:04 PM , Blogger Gwen Perkins said...

This is a great idea. Does small press qualify? If so, I'll throw my book into the ring but I don't want to take up your time if not.

Gwen Perkins
http://theuniversalmirror.com

 
At February 5, 2012 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Andrea K Höst said...

This is an original way of dealing with a glut of submissions!

I'll put in "The Silence of Medair" (Book 1 of the Medair duology). The duology could perhaps be described as post-colonial high fantasy, and explores what happens when after a quest fails, and a time-skipped Imperial Herald is faced with the Empire she failed to save, ruled by the descendants of both the invaders and the people she was trying to save.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Silence-of-Medair-ebook/dp/B004OA605Q
mail at andreakhost.com

 
At February 6, 2012 at 6:23 AM , Anonymous S.M.Muse said...

I would like to submit the following Contemporary Fantasy story for your consideration: Heir of Nostalgia

At eleven years old Phillip had everything a boy could want, a mom who loved him, a brat of a sister he could pick on, and a dad he simply adored. Funny how things can change-

In less than a year his father would turn up missing, a case of foul play some would say... something about strange men showing up and then fleeing in the middle of the night. All Phillip knew was that his father was gone and his whole world had turned upside down. Now skip ahead two years, everything's changed. Phillip, going on thirteen, is homeless all of the time, hungry most of the time, and hasn't seen his mom or sister in who knows how long. He's been living on the streets of New York ever since that fateful night, and the only thing that keeps him going is the thought of avenging himself on the man he feels is responsible for his father's disappearance- the man with the silver singing spurs. Add to this a time traveling wizard, a murder of ravens masquerading as teenage thugs and a girl named Maggie, a Riot Grrl who claims she can talk to angels, and you have all the makings of a grand once in a lifetime adventure.


No one ever said growing up would be easy- then again no one ever said it would be this hard either.

http://www.amazon.com/Heir-Nostalgia-Valerian-ebook/dp/B005VEEMU4/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_2

S.M.Muse
heirofnostalgia@gmail.com

 
At February 6, 2012 at 8:35 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Long as I haven't heard of the publisher, I'm fine with it.

 
At February 7, 2012 at 5:07 AM , Anonymous Scott J Robinson said...

Hi Justin

I'd like a shot at this one with 'The Space Between'.

Kim thinks her day is going badly when her friend fails to meet her at Sherwood Forest. Then an annoying knight hits on her and she is stalked by an elf and a dwarf. But when aliens attack none of the other stuff seems so bad after all.

Collecting strange companions along the way she races to stop a war that could see the end of everything.

The Space Between is the first volume in a 4 book series set in the multiverse of Ananake. It draws on myths and legends of ancient Earth, weaving a tale that moves from Sherwood Forest to distant worlds and outer space. It involves, amongst other things, magical gateways, Area 51, sentient spacecraft, a 50 thousand year old intergalactic war, elves and dwarves, wonder bras, Machu Picchu and strong coffee. Then things really start to get weird.

It can be purchased from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Space-Between-Tribes-Hakahei-ebook/dp/B00744AMGC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328619247&sr=8-1

Or if you want another format donations can be made on my website... www.scottjrobinson.com

email scott at scottjrobisnon.com

Thanks for the opportunity to get the opportunity

Scott

 
At February 7, 2012 at 10:26 AM , Anonymous W. H. Cann said...

This is a decent and considerate way of allowing one self published author to have his or her work reviewed by yourself. With the plethora of self published books available, just choosing one is a hard enough task, let alone finding the 'diamond in the dust' that is worth reading. There are many out there, and I can only hope that you find mine interesting enough to take the chance.

My novel, Path to Vengeance, the 1st book in the SciFi adventure series 'The Guardians', and is a full length novel of 131,000 words.

"Following the death of his fiancée and father at the hands of Krelathans, Grogaan successfully spearheads a campaign against them to fulfil his vow of vengeance.

An unexpected encounter with a Senator’s daughter leads to a romantic liaison, which impacts positively on his emotional condition.

His unique piloting skills and dreams are attributed to his ancestry and gift of magic that ultimately lead to his outstanding performance as a pilot."

It is available on Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/125530

Thank you for offering the chance of this opportunity.
W. H. Cann

 
At February 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM , Blogger Vagabond and The Gypsy Wife said...

Thank you for your offer to review a self-published book. There are several subsidy publishers such as Troubador in the UK who are selective in what they publish. If a manuscript isn't up to a certain standard, they'll reject it or have you revise it. They do regular print runs, have publisher's reps at trade shows, and get your book into brick and mortar bookshops. The books are of excellent quality and reasonably priced, but often aren't reviewed because they're categorized as "self-published."

And so to "Gaia's Children". Available on Amazon, Itunes, and from my website http://www.paulkieniewicz.co.uk

It's set 50 years in the future when global warming is a reality and an unstoppable pandemic sweeps the world. The novel focuses on an Aberdeenshire woman who gives a home to climate refugees and their children. The golden eyed children have no language ability, are rejected by society, relate better to wolves than to people, yet they represent the last hope for the human race.

Thank you again for the opportunity of a book review.

Paul Kieniewicz
paulmmk@yahoo.com

 
At February 8, 2012 at 5:54 AM , Blogger Our Reviews said...

Thank you so much for this opportunity.

I would like to nominate D.P. Prior's (my husband's) self-published new book: The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus (The Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf). It is currently available from both Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Nameless-Dwarf-Omnibus-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0076LC8II/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1328708882&sr=8-5) and Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/130219)


The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus contains the first three books/novellas of the highly acclaimed Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf:

The Ant-Man of Malfen
The Axe of the Dwarf Lords
The Scout and the Serpent

DESCRIPTION: Following the massacre of the dwarves in their ravine city, the Nameless Dwarf pursues the survivors to the brigand town of Malfen, where he learns they have crossed the mountains into the lands of nightmare. His only intention is to save his people from extinction, but he's the last person they'd want to find them.

Thank you again for this opportunity!

Best regards,

Paula Prior (for Derek Prior)
derekprior@yahoo.co.uk

 
At February 9, 2012 at 2:38 AM , Blogger Ady Hall said...

(email) adyhall@gmail.com

 
At February 11, 2012 at 10:19 PM , Anonymous Allen Currie said...

I also have just self published "Operation Phoenix" and have now begun struggling with its promotion. I would like to enter your contest.

In the manner of Orwell's "1984" when he identified a trend in the 1940's, and then projected that trend, he said in 1984 the world will look like this. He then put his protagonist down in that world and watched him.

Some things have changed since I started this novel in 1993, but the book remains a chilling look at one possible future. I am also told it is a thriller and cannot be put down.

The novel is available to be read for free (as my method of giving back) or purchased as a download or soft cover/hard copy at AllenCurrie.ca

Allen Currie
acurrie77@yahoo.ca

 
At February 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM , Anonymous Wakefield Mahon said...

I'm glad you are giving indie writers this opportunity.

"Jade Dreams" is a light fantasy about a girl who must master a very special sword to save her brother.

by Wakefield Mahon
wakefield_mahon@hotmail

http://www.amazon.com/Jade-Dreams-Sacred-Stones-ebook/dp/B00546Z6J0

 
At February 13, 2012 at 1:23 AM , Blogger Jonathan Gould said...

Wondering if something a bit humorous might fit the bill.

"Doodling" is the story of a man who falls off the world (because it's moving too fast) and the strange adventures that then befall him.

Link is http://www.amazon.com/Doodling-ebook/dp/B004KSQVCO/

And I'm at gouldjona[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au

Cheers

 
At February 13, 2012 at 7:21 AM , Blogger Shay Fabbro said...

I would like to submit THE CHOSEN for your consideration. It's a blend of scifi and fantasy so it should be right up your alley :)

Blurb: The Mekan Fleet threatens all life in the galaxy and only the Chosen, a select group chosen by fate, can fight these metal monstrosities and save those that call this galaxy home. But when one of the Chosen is murdered, the untimely death could spell doom for all.

Link: http://su.pr/321wdq

Contact: shayfabbro (at) gmail.com

 
At February 13, 2012 at 7:36 AM , Blogger Caroline Gerardo said...

May I submit my novel, The Lucky Boy.
A dark bildungsroman. Seth McGrath will drag you on a journey from hell to "success." Seth will sell drugs, arrange street fights between homeless men and worse.
Available ereaders, smashwords, amazon, b&N


my email address is carolinegerardo

 
At February 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM , Anonymous Kimberly Warner said...

I would like for you to review my book, Always Darkest. it is a dark but funny fantasy romance novella.

Victoria Clover’s life is about to change forever.

When a blind date goes horribly wrong Victoria ends up in another world where things left lying on the ground on our world sometimes materialize. She must find a way home, but one handsome denizen of Three Suns may make her want to stay.

If you choose it I look foward to reading your review, be it good, bad or ugly.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZMWN04

 
At February 13, 2012 at 5:40 PM , Blogger Marie Borthwick said...

Justin,

I am a reviewer as well, just starting out. Most of what I have reviewed thus far is indie-published. While I have lucked out and not come across a lemon, I do agree with you about the quality (content and presentation) of books runs the range far more than with traditional published.

Recently I read a book called Osric's Wand and fell in love with it, while I am not the author of the book I wouild like to submit it for this "contest". The authors (Jack D. Albrecth, Jr & Ashley Delay) are great people, we even collobrated on a unique "character featurette" on my blog recently. The book purchase link is (http://www.amazon.com/Osrics-Wand-Wand-Makers-Debate-ebook/dp/B005JQ9D8A/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2).

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email at or stop by my blog Write Panic Live.

Sincerely,

Marie Borthwick
Twitter: @writepaniclive
Email: writepaniclive@hotmail.com
Blog: http://writepaniclive.blogspot.com

 
At February 22, 2012 at 12:13 AM , Blogger kevinjamesbreaux said...

Hi all, Kevin James Breaux here. A little thing called google alerts told me to come join the talk.

Where do I start with how frustrating it can be being a creative person working 10-12 hours a day on my craft only to be constantly sabotaged by small press. I'm the first to admit, SOUL BORN had one of the worst edits/editors on the planet, and should have been proofread by the publisher, but clearly was not. That being said, some nice folk have reviewed me based on my story and not the bad edits. I love those people. :) The follow up book, BLOOD DIVIDED, is ten times better written and had a great editor(that I contracted, thank you) but still has some mistakes because the publisher did not proofread. Fool me twice, shame on me. Well I guess I'm learning a lot of painful lessons like how many heart attacks one author can have? The good side... the last book in the series will have my skilled editor and she will proof it too. Now I have two newly written books I'm sending out to agents... I need an agent. Bad. Because these last three years I have aged like twelve. :)

 

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