The Lyons' Den

Home of author Brenna Lyons. Join Brenna as she waxes poetic...or rants and raves.

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Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States

What do you get when you have a child writing seriously at the age of 7 and competing at the age of 11? A woman raised in an inner-city DMZ, weaned on too many nights of watching classic Chiller Theater until the wee hours of the morning with no parental guidance? Someone who is rumored to have picked locks to libraries to get her reads in? You end up with the Susan Lucci of e-publishing, the president of EPIC, and a driven, sleep-deprived author of fantasy and horror, straight genre through romance, dark romance, and erotica, poetry and articles. You find a woman who narrowed her college degree choices based on a comment a teacher made about her becoming "the perfect auditor or the perfect thief." And, you probably find a woman who is rumored to have once incited a mutiny...by accident. With degrees in accounting and computer programming, backgrounds in everything from teaching to clerking, tracking fraud suspects to working for the Air Force and the Navy as as civilian, it's strange irony that Brenna Lyons will become best known for her first love...writing. Brenna is an active member of EWAG, BroadUniverse, EPIC, WRW, ERWA and TELL.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

POD and LOCUS...so much for accuracy

Recently, LOCUS (one of the premiere SF/f trade publications) published an article on POD ("print on demand" publication). As I have often seen in such articles, LOCUS has sadly relied on old stereotypes and has made no effort to use proper definitions. It pains me that "industry" sources are so lacking, and as such, it is up to those on the cutting edge of said industries to correct the dogma of an antiquated view of publishing.

POD is a style of printing a book. Nothing more. It sets the printing apart from older methods like offset printing. Using the term to mean ANYTHING else is misusing the term. A book printed POD is, as LOCUS noted in the article, no different in appearance and style than a trade paperback book printed offset. For that reason alone, LOCUS's bitter comments about POD printing make no sense that I can see.

Trade paperback is another industry term. It is so named, not for the size of the book (though they are typically larger than a mass market paperback) but for the quality of the paper used in production. Mass market paperbacks are made with pulp (hence the term pulp fiction). Trade paperback is made with heavier, smoother, bleached paper. If you want to get purely technical about it, mass market books are the "cheap seats" of book printing. Now, that does have an up side, after all. People gobble up the cheap seats like peanuts, but that doesn't make the book printed any better.

Despite LOCUS's beliefs that
trade paperback is a style only used by small press, I am happy to say that many NY publishers, most notably lines of Chick Lit, use this style of book. It is more durable than a mass market book, but it's smaller and easier to carry and read than a hard-bound edition of a book. In fact, trade paperbacks have become very popular with trendy 20-somethings.

I am happy to say that LOCUS is also wrong about the fact that small press is not willing to invest their review copies on LOCUS. Well, many aren't. After all... How often does LOCUS review a small press book? Which brings me to the rather intersting question of how they can ever judge whether a self-published book (which they mistakenly call POD) is of superior quality to list it.

Back to the subject! I teach promotion and marketing classes. Until this moment, I have always suggested that SF/f/horror authors, even cross-genre romance and erotic romance authors, send a print copy of their book to LOCUS to have it listed as a new release. I did it. Fion's Daughters was listed in their releases. People saw it and congratulated me on it. It's the back door into LOCUS, since they won't actually review the books. It's really the only way for a newly-established small press author to get LOCUS notice. Until this moment...

I now have to weigh that against their assertion that they are trying to "weed out" POD books (though they still indicate that they are actually trying to weed out vanity/subsidy books, again not using correct terminology). Beyond the obvious (and admittedly knee-jerk) reaction that this is utterly stupid, it no longer becomes worthwhile for authors to send books to LOCUS for the line notice of release. Or is it?

On second thought, I believe I WILL keep telling people to do it. In fact, I will make it a challenge to all SF/f/horror and cross genre authors out there who read this. Send a paper copy of your releases to LOCUS. Flood them with excellent books from small press publishers, all with a note included that your book is from a non-subsidy/non-vanity/royalty-paying INDEPENDENT press. Include reviews. Include contest finals or wins.

Is there a revolution in the way the publishing industry works? Hell yes, there is. Join the revolution. Make the dinosaurs of the industry stand up and take notice.

In service as always,
Brenna

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