Friday, March 11, 2005

Poddy mouth

Now here's a new blog (mentioned by Publishers Lunch today) that you ought to keep an eye on. It's called Poddy Mouth -- or POD-dy Mouth. The point being that it deals with self-published books issued through Print On Demand (POD) companies.

Now don't switch off. Pay attention, please.

Poddy Mouth is new. It's written by an anonymous lady who is a self-confessed midlist novelist; her second book is coming out soon from Penguin Putnam in the US. Why then is she troubling to read and write about POD books?

Damn if I know, but she is. And good luck to her. She takes the view that there is some good stuff out there, and intends to spread the word about it when she finds it. Her motto is Finding Needles, Discarding Hay.

Now, before you rush off and post your magnum opus (PublishAmerica, no less) to her, just read the following:
Whoa, Nelly. ...Do not send me copies of your POD book for review. Let's be honest - I have no place to put them. I'd need to get a self-storage locker if I accepted unsolicited books (sound familiar?) I will, however, gladly accept an email with a description of your book so that I can research whether or not to read the thing.
And also, read the following for good sense and information:

I am not a great advocate of POD. It's overpriced, slow and has a scent just this side of Roquefort. If you ask your Barnes and Noble sales rep if they have Slap Happy, Arkansas, he'll look it up in the store database, then curl his lip and flare his nostrils as he grunts, "That's a POD title. We don't carry those."

Furthermore, I am not saying that all POD titles are as good as what HarperCollins releases; the vast majority of PODs should not see print. But there are titles that are worthy of note -- and some are better than what HC releases. There are plenty of folks who wrote books -- good books -- who did not know how to get them to a traditional publisher. And then there are the folks who managed to find a respectable literary agent (one who might have been an editor herself at one time) but could not get an editor to acquire the thing. What about all of those books?

My opinion: If one or more industry professionals found your book an intriguing and delightful read but couldn't get it there themselves, then it should be in print. Because the editor your agent submitted to happened to have PMS or lost last week's pay in a bout with March Madness is irrelevant. In a perfect world, serendipity would not play a role in publishing. So, for you folks that have a gem on your hard drive, do what you have to do. You can certainly trash it. Or you can find some way to get into the hands of readers on your own.

As for the rest of you -- for the love of God, please stop.

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