Over at the Gather/Simon & Schuster contest, it is like a recurring (bad) dream. Surfing over the entrants, I spotted over a dozen POD books that I passed on (and their ratings are relatively proportional to my opinion as best I can recall).
For all of you wondering what it is like to be in my shoes (8.5M) here is your chance. Some of the first chapters submitted are terrible (rated at 3 and under) and some are pretty good (rated, roughly, 6 and up) but most are simply average.
And just like American Idol, the best parts are the comments. Read what people are saying about the hard work of aspiring writers everywhere and see why it is important to get an objective party to read your work before you submit in anywhere--and to use your spell-checker.
One other note: Never underestimate the evil and self-serving nature of the human race. It appears there is a problem with authors (entrants) going in and "down-rating" the leading titles by giving them "1 star" reviews so that their own titles have a better chance. To those folks, I say, "May you be cursed to a lifetime of PublishAmerica contracts."
So many folks are fascinated by/with American Idol, and a huge percentage by the failure of the talent-impaired contestants. I wish I could say the same for vetting POD books; the entertainment level [of the bad ones] is, indeed, quite low.
But what a lot of folks don't realize is--just like commercially publishes authors--there are some hacks who don't belong there and some unrecognized folks who will never get a break [read: break in]. Guy's like John Mayer, for example, would never make it through American Idol (especially without his guitar)--or more on spot, singers like Madonna--with how picky the panel is. But we all know John Mayer and Madonna. Just like we know John Grisham.
The whole industry (publishing, sure--but really I mean the entire entertainment industry) is unfair. Even this blog is unfair. If I passed on your book for a review, don't take it personally. (Unless it really sucked. Then, well . . . .) I'm no different than an agent or an editor or your everyday reader (which is, essentially, all I am anyway) who takes a look and it either grabs or it doesn't. Entertainment is subjective, weird, fickle, and--to the dismay of every movie studio, publishing house, and record company--completely unpredictable.
So if you are a talented writer (you know who you are . . . and aren't) keep writing, keep plugging, keep making it better.
I am an author and instructor, in that order (for now.) My debut novel (which debuted in the midlist) was released by Penguin Putnam in 2004 and my second novel was released early 2006.
As for this blog, it has been profiled in many online magazines, blogs and news stories, including the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the LA Times and Publishers Lunch.
To answer the deluge of questions I have been receiving from publicists: I'll review pretty much anything that is good--but it better be good, or I'll never look at another one of your books again. Then I'll hunt you down. Fiction preferred (no fantasy or young adult, go easy on the science fiction.) Non-fiction should be memoir, humor, self-help. Definite no-nos: cookbooks, textbooks, porn, books without verbs. And it must be POD (no small presses.) Otherwise, email with pitch first.