The New Publishers Weekly $149 Self-Publishing Ghetto

Publishers Weekly, a big trade magazines covering traditional publishing has made an announcement about a new quarterly supplement called “PW Select“. It’s dedicated to listing self-published titles and “reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment.”

On the surface it sounds interesting. Until you look under the surface.

You see, out of “all self-published books submitted during that period” at least 25 will be reviewed. The $149 does not mean a submitted novel will be reviewed. You are paying ad space of a few lines and then the chance (read: lottery) at a review.

Oh, and the resource directory to be included in “PW Select”? Judging from the ads all over the PW website, count on it being chock-full of vanity publishers who are also on the look-out for naive gullible self-publishers to take money from.

As a part of this deal you get a 6 months digital subscription, which is a $90 value. This means it costs $59 to get one listing into a quarterly supplement that isn’t a part of the regular magazine. The little side-ghetto. Oh, I feel privileged to have this offer available.

Yes, the sarcasm is out nice and heavy about this.

Does this seem harsh? Yep, and for a reason:

MIGHT be reviewed?

Oh look at the pretty carrot. No, let’s call this what it is: a lottery. A big lottery where you pay your money and hope to get lucky. For $149 that is a really bad chance.

If they had been straight-forward about this, that this is for ad placement only, it would be one thing. But a lot of newbies are going to see the carrot of a possible review and submit to something with dubious benefit.

Attracting Readers?

PW has an audience, but what is that audience? It’s people already in the industry such as publishers, agents and libraries. For someone who chose and wants to be Indie, the publishers and agents portion is worthless other than picking up a few side readers, if they have time to read for recreation. Right now it’s difficult to sell Indie books to libraries without jumping through a lot of hoops, so no real advantage to that market, either.

How does this help the author? Just to be listed in a text ad? The mass of readers are not going to read PW to find books. That’s what browse and search is for in the online bookstores, as well as review blogs (which you do not pay in order to have the ‘chance’ of a review) and places like LibraryThing and Goodreads. For the purpose of attracting readers, the listing has very little to no value.

Make money!

Where is the money at for most Indie publishers writing fiction? E-books. What are the instructions from PW?

“We will not accept manuscripts or e-books (this time). Only final bound galleys or finished books will be accepted. Books cannot be returned; once finished the copies are donated to Housing Works Thrift Shop, a worthy local charity.”

Okay, we are asked to buy an ad, but we are to send in a dead tree book? Oh wait, this is tied up with the carrot of a possible review.

Listing Ghetto

If the Indie/self-publishing movement is suddenly so important after being ripped apart by PW in the past, why is it in a separate “supplement”? Why isn’t it a part of industry news? Because PW sees money that it wants but wants to keep the “traditional” industry happy by keeping the wretches away from the ‘legitimate’ publishing industry. Otherwise, this real ‘publishing news’ would be a part of the main magazine.

Financial Woes

Honestly, this move doesn’t surprise me coming from PW. While some of their articles and information are interesting, they’ve also been having financial problems. This is a way for them to bring in a new cash flow.

Oh, and traditionally released books? As far as I can tell they are not charged for listings or the possibility of reviews. Isn’t that nice that they are treating Indies so differently.

In Conclusion

This offer is about making money off the Indie authors, not by selling more subscriptions or making money off of readers. While there are valid expenses associated with going Indie, this sort of thing is not one of them. Stay away!

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3 comments on “The New Publishers Weekly $149 Self-Publishing Ghetto
  1. Dear J.A.,

    I don’t want to buy into the traditional publishing vs indie publishing paradigm, because I do believe that writers need all the options they can get. In addition, I certainly don’t believe that the vast majority of individuals who work in the publishing industry are evil, in fact the agents who I have had dealings with were very helpful, and I have always assumed that most people who went into editing did it because they were committed to getting good books out, not for the money.

    But…I do believe that the publishing industry (with an emphasis on industry) has become increasingly corrupted as publishing houses became part of large corporations, and that this is an example. This move by Publishers Weekly is so cynical, so condescending, so blatantly profit driven, that I hope that everyone within traditional publishing speak out against it and will call for a real change in attitude.

  2. Diane says:

    Well summed up! I also read the comments below the article. I think most indie authors are aware of the scam inside the offer. :-)

  3. Rabia says:

    *nod* I don’t want to create a divide between indie and traditional publishing, either, but this predatory behavior is a total scam.

    You make a great point about the target audience for PW. The majority of e-book readers have probably never read a single issue of PW; it would be a complete mis-targeting of resources for indie authors to buy into this scheme.

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