Writerly Rant #5
The Sludge Pile
by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Business Owner.
Literary Agents and Publishers have the dreaded Slush Pile, but book reviewers have the Sludge Pile.
I read a blog recently where the writer/reviewer politely requested that unsolicited book review requests should follow a certain protocol. She was not upset to receive unsolicited review requests; it was the blatant lies told and the demands for a response to the inquiries that ticked her off.
She clearly stated that she was not “in the business of reviewing books” but that it was something she enjoyed doing. Specifically she mentioned that self-published authors, who crave legitimate reviews, do not always include links to their online book pages. This is mandatory for inclusion as she screens which books she wants to read.
Why? Because she wants to read good books in her preferred genre.
She is subtly saying that not all published writers write well. She isn’t interested in plodding through a poorly edited or loosely structured book just because she feels sorry for the author – in the end, she won’t publish a review of the book if it isn’t of high quality in the first place (and neither will I for that matter).
I say “Bravo” to her for standing up for the quality of writing.
I too, believe that only those novels and memoirs that are well written and edited, should be given the time of day by reviewers. And we’re not the only two reviewers who think this way. Indies Unlimited, a major player for online publicity and resources for self-published authors, also offers free reviews. However, if your book does not meet their standards of quality, they will not consider it. Their goal is to support authors who take the time to manage their manuscripts with pride.
The line in the sand is drawn.
Avid readers, book reviewers, and patrons of the written word are tired of sifting through the sludge of poorly or un-edited offerings from the inexperienced self-published writers.
Just as Amazon and other major online book retailers are starting to double check the quality of their inventory for graphic sexual content; soon there will be mandatory quality control guidelines to adhere by across the board. In fact, most renowned digital book printers/sellers will not permit poorly formatted e-books to make it to their major distribution list.
It’s only a matter of time before online business become picky about the quality of the writing being generated and published. When that happens, someone will invent the youtube for writers and Sludge Piles for readers and reviewers will dwindle into obscurity.
Until then, if your book is declined to be reviewed, don’t complain about how self-published writers are undervalued – re-evaluate the quality of your own work and try again.
* * *
Categories: Rants, Writerly Rants
I wish Amazon would check for quality of writing. I spent a lot of money to put the best product I could on the market, yet it is lost in a quagmire of countless poorly formatted novels with under-developed plots. With so many options open to readers today, it is difficult to distinguish yourself in such a crowded marketplace. Anything to cull the herd of unreadable works would benefit indies who spend the time and money to do it right.
Great post, Melissa! As much as I enjoy supporting independent authors there is a huge variation in the quality of the writing/editing. I think every writer (self-published or not) should do themselves the tremendous favour of hiring a great editor.
I couldn’t agree more with both of you.
As an editor and avid reader, I find the quality of many self-published works to be lacking. I have been asked by a few self-published authors to read their work, but I have decline a review if I honestly can’t give them a passing grade of 3 out of 5 stars. I do, however, offer them my professional opinion if they still want it – but few do.
I’m hoping that Infinite Pathways will help new and emerging authors find a way to make their work of the highest publishable quality before submitting query letters or self-publishing.
The world is not out to punish those who are unable to be taken on by traditional publishers, and writers who feel that way need to learn to see the truth for what it really is.
There is little doubt that self-publishing is difficult and mistakes can still be made. I spent a small fortune for a story editor, had two proofreaders, and there were still seventeen small mistakes in my first edition. What bothers me are “authors” who put little or no effort into their work. Some indies are so horrifically bad that they cast a dark shadow on anyone who isn’t published through a Random House or HarperCollins.
The barriers to entry have been lowered, but so is the quality of what’s out there. Being able to distinguish yourself from the chaff and become recognized as a good author is going to become an increasingly hard challenge moving forward.
I sincerely hope Infinite Pathways becomes an invaluable resource for up and coming authors looking to do it right.
More resources are needed for writers looking to be newly published. Even if a budget is small, editing can still be done the ‘right’ way with the right resources 🙂