Friday, March 02, 2007

Walking in my (worn out) shoes: the 2006 stats!

Another year, another long journey to the Needles. Like last year, I kept a running list of statistics from the beginning of the 2006 literary year (March to March).

What does it take to find 15 excellent self-published titles?

The answer: More work than it took to find fifty.

The sob story:

Total number of queries received: 5,267
Total number of books considered: 1,666
Total number of books read to completion but did not get reviewed (the ones that came "this close"): 41

Total number of books submitted to me via email: 1,651

Total number of books not read past first page: 217
Total number of books not read past first paragraph: 23
Total number of books not read past first sentence: 8

Total number of books I read in one sitting, despite hunger, daybreak, and bathroom needs: 5

Total number of times I was harassed for not reviewing a submitted novel: 8
Most times a single author submitted a single book: 6

Total number of times an author asked me to purchase his or her book to garner a review: 6

Total number of POD books (that I had purchased) donated to local libraries: 14
Total number of POD books (that I had purchased) rejected from local libraries: 1

Total dollar amount spent on this venture: $0.00 (I do not count books purchased since I own them.)
Total dollar amount made on this venture: $0.00 (still)

Total number of emails received, since March 2005, (non-spam) to 173,366
Total number of gigabytes worth of data I received, since March 2005, in PDF files: @ 8.15 GB

Total number of unique hits to this blog for March 2006 - March 2007: 1,235,222

Number of selected/reviewed books by publisher:

Lulu: 5
iUniverse: 5
Velluminous: 2
Authorhouse: 1
Toadspittle Hill Productions: 1
Sunspot Press: 1

Total number of commercially published authors who got in contact to applaud this effort: 26

Total number of commercially published authors who got in contact to ask me to review their novels: 12

Total number of agents who requested to see the Needle awards data: 28

Total number of editors who requested to see the Needle awards data: 19

Total number of agents and editors who asked if they could be judges next year: 7 (As one agent put it, "Of course--we all want to get first dibs on reading these books!)

Total number of offers to buy my book if I would just surrender my identity: I stopped counting once I hit 1,000.

Here's hoping you enjoyed this year as much as I did!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

POD and [the problem with] grammar.

A lot of folks who feel POD books are substandard (usually true) quickly tug on the weakest link of the nature of self-published material: grammar.

True, it can be the weakest link (and the quickest way to fall into the trash bin [electronic or otherwise]) but it is fair (and safe) to say that almost all books contain some mistakes.

I had this same discussion with a NY Times bestselling author last week. I told her that all of my picks this year are as close to perfect as anything being published by the majors.

You'd think I was inclined to controversy, wouldn't you.

She read one of my picks for 2006 and reluctantly agreed that it was a superior text, but still maintained that the books produced by such noble publishers [like Knopf and Vintage] will always be superior.

That is when I explained to her that, though I highly enjoyed A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIOUS by Dave Eggers, a Vintage release in its paperback form as well as a Pulitzer Prize nominated memoir, was riddled (riddled, I say! [that means, like, a dozen errors]) with grammatical problems.

Now, before you blow a gasket, I understand that Dave Eggers was being creative with a lot of the grammar and word usage. I really do. But some errors were hard to overlook. And, frankly, it's not Dave's fault as much as it is the copyeditor's.

Anyway, my friend balked (of course). So I whipped it out and showed her example after example--even finding two errors within one page.

From the Vintage paperback:

Bottom of p.321: I'm certain it was supposed to read cardboard backing, not carboard backing.
Top of p. 322: "You like you're pleading for help."

Anyway, the actual errors are not the point. The point is: who cares? POD or not, a few glitches are no big deal. Ever read the goofs for movies listed on IMDB? Far worse than novels--and the budgets are 100 times higher.

So unless the book is so badly written that it's hard to read (I've tried to read at least a hundred in this category), just give it a try. It's probably worth it.



And here's an update on the Gather Writing contest. At 1,500 entries (and 200 a week coming in) it seems to have drawn all the folks who (wisely) passed on Sobol.