Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hard Choices: How I Pick Books to Review and Sell

I've had many queries lately, and decided to post this just to clarify my methods for choosing which books to review and to sell online. I hope it is helpful!
I started Books for Animal Lovers last year because I wanted to combine two great loves of mine and offer my choices to other like-minded people. I am not a fast reader, but I do try to read two or three books concurrently in order to offer timely reviews. My blog has received enough readership that I now am on the list to receive advance reader copies (ARCs) from various publishers and samples from smaller presses. I appreciate receiving the books and do my best to look at each one with an open mind.
Many of the books I receive are from self-published authors. As a former publisher and owner of a subsidy house, I’m aware of the difficulty authors have in finding a so-called traditional publisher willing to take a risk on an unknown writer. I’m also aware of the various methods for self-publishing, many of which are quite good. All of this is to say that I’m not opposed to including self-published books on my site, but I do have standards that I am rather strict about imposing. And so here are some of my peeves pertaining to self-published titles:
·      Errors. No book is perfect, and typos do happen, but when a book obviously has not been edited or proofread, I cannot accept it because, quite simply, I can’t bear to read it! Hire an editor as part of your writing process. You will benefit, as will your book.
·      Interior Design. Part of the joy of reading is the feel and look of a book in my hands. But a book that is poorly designed with low-resolution images, ugly fonts, or a shoddy layout will not be accepted here no matter how wonderful the writing. I’m not just selling words, but the whole package. Otherwise, I’d simply sell eBooks. Hire a professional designer to layout your book.
·      Cover Design. Self-published books often have amateurishly designed covers.  It is absolutely a fact that a good cover will sell a book. Frankly, I do not want to have ugly books on my site! Pay the extra and have a pro do your cover while designing the interior.
·      Pricing. Understandably, writers paying for books to be published, either through CreateSpace or other services, have to pay a much higher unit cost. That causes the retail price to be higher than traditionally published books, and limits the book’s marketability. Sometimes it’s just too high a cost for a small retailer to handle. There’s no real solution unless the writer is willing to break even or take a loss on sales to a retailer. At least they are getting their books out before potential readers.
So if you have a book you feel fits the list here (and you’ve read or at least browsed the selections and reviews), by all means send it to me to consider. If I feel it has merit and may sell, I’ll definitely add it to the site. If I believe it merits a review, I’ll post one on the blog and send it to other sites. If it does not meet my criteria, I will not include it. If you would like referrals to designers, editors, etc., ask me. I have a pretty good list of resources!
Keep reading, keep writing, and don’t give up the dream.
Contact me: Jeremy@booksforanimallovers.com for more info or questions.

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