Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Off the Grid by Dan Kolbet

Well, I decided I'd like to read some more self-published ficiton on the Kindle, and feeling a little bit loath to pay for it (I am mean) I thought it might be better if I can get it to pay me. I got in touch with the Self Publishing Review after they made an open call for reviewers and signed up, and this is my first review for them. Just to get the link in the first para, it's here, FWIW.

The SPR (as it shall be called from hereon, whatever the danger for confusion with The Society for Psychichal Research) charges authors for a review. That's a bit of a strange arrangement, but it seems to be common in the self-publishing arena. SPR charges US$40, but there are some places charging much much more. Kirkus Reviews - a name I'd heard but I don't know much about - charges between US$475 and US$525 for a review.  

$575!! Or all in caps a more expressive $%&%!!!

Paying for a review seems like an odd choice to me (who still thinks being paid to write them is a hilarious novelty) but it seems that in the vanity game there is no end to the queue of people waiting to take your money. At $40 it loooks more like a filtering system than a real money-making enterprise. A lot of the sites that will review what's now euphemistically called "indie ficition" have notices up saying they aren't accepting review submissions right now because they're so full up. I dunno if the bus has left on this one, but I have to say it's looking pretty crowded.

Desperate self-pity after the break!

I see a poster for a book everytime I come home that is offering one lucky reader the prize of a diamond. This is how it is in the real world: forget the damn book, win a diamond! I forget what it's called, which makes me wonder about the wisdom of this sort of gimmick (okay, it looks like this one), but has it really come to this? Win a diamond! Pay for reviews!

Well, good for Dan Kolbet for having the get and go to do his thing. I feel bad that I didn't like his book much. I looked at his blog and his seems like an ordinary sort of guy with dreams, but holy shit there are hundreds and thousands of us out there. Looking over the Kindle listings is pretty dispiriting. I feel like the guy in The Waste Land watching the dead shambling across London Bridge "I never knew death had undone so many."

I'm old enough have been disappointed a dozen times already. I've been on lazy money-grabbing courses where I felt I knew more about the craft and business of fiction than the idiots offering two days advice outside of their regular jobs as junior English lit lecturers and writers of bad poetry for small magazines. I've sat in the rooms with border-line mental cases and hopeless dreamers wondering if that's how they see me, just another sucker to fleece and forget about.

This combination of fraud and desperation gets me down. It'd not what I imagined when I first put pen to paper a quarter of a century ago, and there are times when I think of all the other things I could have done with the time and effort and emotion I've poured into all this. There are times when I think "why throw all this good money after bad? I could be playing Civ or watching Mad Men or something rather than sitting here weeping tears of frustration over words that don't come and when they do come they're wanted by no one."

But then the alarm rings in the morning and it's another fucking day getting the fucking train to the fucking office with the rest of the herd and I think that there's no way I'm going to let myself be like the rest of them. If I don't do it, I'll die trying and face my maker knowing I did everything I could to make it happen. I'm going to have some fucking questions for that arsehole, though.

And yes, since you ask. Very shortly, in fact.

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