Poddy Mouth was an anonymous author who began reviewing print on demand books in 2005, back when self-publishing was more frowned upon than it is today. She still remains the most prominent and successful POD reviewer – in part because she came from the world of traditional publishing. As she says on her blog:
I am an author and instructor, in that order (for now.) My debut novel (which debuted in the midlist) was released by Penguin Putnam in 2004 and my second novel was released early 2006. As for this blog, it has been profiled in many online magazines, blogs and news stories, including the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the LA Times and Publishers Lunch.
My own novel was reviewed on her blog, which led to a piece in Entertainment Weekly:
Though dormant for three years, her site is still a font of information for self-publishers, with enormously useful interviews with agents, editors, successful self-publishers, as well as reviews. I caught up with her and asked a few questions of the POD review expert.
Self-Publishing Review: How did you get so much attention for the blog – from agents and editors?
Poddy Mouth: It started with a few friends in the industry (writers and editors), then it became something other folks were curious about, then it took on a life of its own. The blog still gets about 20,000 hits per month, and the last post was years ago.
SPR: What are your thoughts on how self-publishing has progressed since you stopped blogging? Back when Poddy Mouth was in full force, your blog was one of the only ones going – now there are many and POD’s losing its stigma. Is POD the future of publishing or is that just wishful thinking?
PM: Well, with the current economic conditions (and the way publishers are cutting back) I am guessing that POD will continue to see a surge in use. Less risks are being taken in traditional publishing, which means more writers will have to go it on their own.
SPR: I’ve read people in mainstream publishing say that self-publishing can ruin your chances at getting traditionally published because if a book’s already been released, no publisher’s going to want to give it a second shot, especially if sales were low. Do you believe this?
PM: I have never believed this. Publishers want a book that will sell, and if they believe in it, they will take it on. By default, almost all sales of self-pubbed books are low. There is almost no way to avoid it, and publishers understand that.
SPR: How did you deal with rejecting review submissions? Writers have so much hope about getting a review and it costs a fair amount to print and ship so it seems cruel to not review a book – even if the review is bad.
PM: Well, my stance was that if I was going to review it (which meant it was exceptional), I would let the author know. If you didn’t hear back, then it wouldn’t be on the blog. This was necessary due to volume. However, I only accepted electronic submissions, so it cost the writer nothing to submit. I only wanted to post reviews of outstanding books, which is part of what drew the agents and editors, knowing that if I reviewed a book, it might be something they would want to represent or acquire. If I were reviewing lousy books, it would’ve been a waste of their time.
SPR: Any one major piece of advice you’d give to self-publishers?
PM: More than ever, it is critical to figure out ways to get your book publicized. Use every available avenue (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to get the word out. If it really is a top notch product, word will spread!
SPR: Do you think you’d ever start up the blog again?
PM: No. :) Those days are gone for good. I will remember it fondly, though–and every author I met and read as a result of it.