I don't see it as altruistic but mutually beneficial in a general way. If we can develop a credible vetting process it will help improve many POD offerings and thus raise the standard which is good for all POD authors. And it can help in the promotion and sales departments.I think it would depend a good deal on how much time and effort need be invested. As both Kevin and I have pointed out, every minute spent on a project like this is time that could be devoted to writing and promoting one’s own work...and often promoting books in established, proven ways, Another way to think of this is to balance the immediate benefits of focusing on one’s own projects against the speculative returns that might come from time invested in the “book club.”(What I think you should abandon, however, is the idea of a kind of mutual editing society.)You're right that attaining credibility is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. But that's how it is with any effort. It's like a race across a field with obstacles in the way. We can run the race or walk away. But sometimes getting in a race gives you a chance to finish among the winners. If there are hurdles you jump them.As I suggested, initial credibility is going to come from the value of the names attached to the vetting process. This is how institutions such as the Book-of-the-Month Club or many of the more respected literary awards started off. Their credibility was founded on the recognizability and trust that came with the names of the writers, editors and publishers who chose the materials. Once the value of the books being recommended is established, the “club” could—like today’s book clubs—cruise on its reputation.So I think the first thing you would need to do is contact as many well-known POD writers as you can, to see who might be willing to attach their names as well as invest some time.Anyway I would be willing to collaborate with others here to put something together and see if we can get it across the finish line. The first thing to do is to see if any of our colleagues are interested enough to run with us. If a few are, then we can talk process and take the first steps out of the gate.Go for it!
But can I put my own picture on the cover Kevin?
Ron wrote:you yourself brought up one of these yourself when you mentioned that the self-published author can get a larger percentage of the cover price of a book. As I pointed out, this is true---but the author also has to subtract all of the costs they must bear in publishing and promoting their book.But I never suggested that one does better selling a few books with a higher royalty than many with a smaller one. The advantage I have heard from commercially published authors who've gone the self-pub route is that they can do better given that they already have a following. I don't know if they really do or not. Frankly I think some of it must be just sour grapes when, say, a publisher declines to take their next book or one they have written outside their usual genre, though I doubt this sort of concern applies to the likes of a Stephen King who surely can write his own ticket though may choose, occasionally, to go the self-pub route just for exploratory purposes.Ron added:By the bye, speaking of bringing things up often, I am not sure why you keep promoting Reedsy as a way of promoting a book. Since when does being interested in an idea or interested in talking about its potential count as promoting?As it happens, I am in the midst of writing a new one and have been thinking a lot about new ways to promote it and so, naturally -- and given my interest in how the digital revolution has changed publishing and book selling -- I am looking for new approaches to doing this via online capabilities. And needless to say, of course I will pursue the traditional routes first but I don't plan to do it like I did back with kvs when I spent two years seeking a publisher before finally tossing in the towel and deciding to go POD. I'm a bit more savvy now and don't want to waste a lot of time so, instead, if when it's done I don't get a positive response in about three months, I will go the tried and true POD route. In that case I expect I will need a strong online presence and a promotional strategy to fit the book. Reedsy might offer that.More, it might be a new model which can achieve success in our modern digital world in which case it might also be an interesting investment down the road.None of this is about "promoting" the site though.
Kevin writes:For a fee.Yes, that's how the world works. Otherwise, if there is no revenue for them, why go to the trouble of trying to create such a platform. There is, of course, another platform: traditional publishing, which does not charge an author for these services. While an author may wind up self-publishing in the end, I always try to urge beginning writers to make a serious attempt at traditional publishing before turning to doing it themselves. The potential advantages of traditional publishing are great enough to warrant making an honest effort.The real question is whether the investment is worth it for an author. In this case that will depend on the author's goals and, also, on the quality of their product (their platform) in terms of how it looks, track record, buzz in the public sphere (are people talking about finding books there?), etc. So a "fee" may or may not make sense. Just dismissing it because a fee is involved doesn't.When I wrote "since most reviewing entities pass up self-published books, Kevin responded:That's not true. There are many places that will review books, even Lulu have such a service, for a fee. Of course, that response isn't relevant to what I actually said since I was in context referring to reviewers in the traditional media like the NYTimes Book Review and similar reviewing entities. Which has in the past reviewed self-published books. There are many other respected reviewers who have no qualms about considering self-published books.And, as I have also said elsewhere, while is a nice feather in the cap to get a review in the NYT, it is not the be-all and end-all of respected review sites. For instance, I was just as happy to see Zoomable Universe get positive reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Nature and Publisher's Weekly.That there are other options available to self-publishers, some on a paid basis, is beside the point. No one was talking about those which are largely ignored (often not even seen) by the wider reading public.Kevin writes:Here's the price one well-known review service charges >> "******promises you a review in 7–9 weeks for $425. You can purchase an expedited review for $575, and they will deliver it in 4–6 weeks. They tell you the review will be 250–300 words"The point is not that there are options for paid reviews. Of course there are! The point is whether or not they can create a platform which people looking for reading material will go to for that purpose. That is, their challenge is to build a broadly based, popular readers' guide website, something with credibility with the general public and, hence, the capacity to help shape book buyers' choices. There are already sites like this which we have both already mentioned: The SFSite, Midwest Book Review, Good Reads, Lunch.com. But none have, to my knowledge, achieved a broad acceptance as a source of vetted book recommendations. I think to get that they will have to build a robust site which gives people lots of reasons to look at them, not just to find their next book. They will have to have the attractiveness of a general readership magazine with significant circulation and reputation. Can they do that? I don't know. But given all the changes so far wrought by the digital revolution, I wouldn't bet against it. Ron wrote:I don’t see any real “curating” taking place since, apparently, if you pay the fees you are in.Assuming the fee is for access to the stable of reviewers, I would presume it does not guarantee a good review or any review at all. If it did, that would undermine the credibility of any review offered and I should think they'd want to avoid THAT.I will often take a paid review with a grain of salt, but there are places like Kirkus, which has been around for nearly 90 years, who have impeccable reputations for being fair and impartial.Ron adds:I can see where this might be great for Reedsy and its ilk, but how does it really benefit the author? In other words, who is profiting from this? In traditional publishing, the publisher is the one who puts everything at risk financially...if the book succeeds both the publisher and author gain, if it fails only the publisher is the substantial loser since they will have lost all of the costs attached to the publication of the book, including any advance paid to the author. But in this new model it appears that all of the investment, and attendant risk, falls on the author’s shoulders. On the other hand, Reedsy loses nothing no matter what happens.Well first, unless it benefits the owners of the site, they will have no incentive to build and maintain it. So that's no knock against them. True, but neither is it up to me to see that they are successful. How does it benefit authors? If it leads to more book sales it does, and if as a result of the sales more interest from, say the film industry or a publisher materializes, that benefits authors, too, just the way selling traditionally published books benefits those who write and publish them.And, as I have pointed out elsewhere, this is a passive service. Film producers and traditional publishers looking for material would have to spend the time and effort to go through literally tens of thousands of books when there are professional agents with known reputations who bring them material that has already been carefully vetted. Unless I am being obtuse, I cannot find anywhere on Reedsy where one can simply browse through available books. The entire site seems to be focused on selling editing, design and marketing services. So it eludes me how, say, a film producer is supposed to find a book via Reedsy. In the case of self-publishers, the writer wears both hats. The problem that we are all familiar with is the limited visibility and credibility of self-published works. This site is another apparent attempt to overcome those obstacles.And again, where in the world on Reedsy can one find any books, of limited visibility or otherwise?The real problem facing the self-published author is how to make their book stand out among the 1,000,000 other self-published books that are also vying for the reader's attention. This requires promotion, marketing and advertising. That is, more effort than simply sitting back and hoping that A. someone will review your book and B. someone else might read that review. First of all you need to get your book in front of the reviewer, which might very well entail sending a physical copy of the book---which is probably going to be necessary for any newspaper or magazine review. You might want to take out ads in relevant publications. Say, for instance, you wrote a book about skiing. You may want to not only send a copy of your book to a skiing or winter sport magazine but take out an ad as well. Posters and post cards at events, bookstores, etc. are also good promotion, as are a presence a book fairs and arranging for interviews on radio, TV and podcasts. All of these and other methods of promotion are proactive...and potentially expensive. But probably more effective than taking the passive route of simply hoping that your book might get noticed among a million others.So what does Reedsy lose if the undertaking fails? Well it's owners lose whatever they invested to set up and run their site as well as the time lost doing so plus the opportunity they presumably hoped to make real by creating the next big online digital platform. The participating author(s) lose whatever the invested in getting their book seen and reviewed on the site, presumably fifty bucks.Fifty dollars at the minimum. Reedsy is really all about trying to entice authors to employ their full range of services which, as I have pointed out, can be as much as $5000 and more. The only real advantage I can see to Reedsy is that it provides the self-published author a one-stop source for professional editors, designers, etc. but, as near as I can tell, at no real savings in cost.