Saturday, 2 February 2008

The review lottery

Sending out books for review? A waste of time, advised an acquaintance who self-publishes. It’s like buying a lottery ticket: the chance of catching the eye of the right person in the right mood at the right time of day is minimal.

We did send the CBe books out, and we managed to buy a winning ticket: the Lezard review in the Guardian was a breakthrough, not just for that particular book but because it gives the whole venture some credibility. But there are certain assumptions standing in the way of getting these books noticed (that print-on-demand books are bad; that small-press books are niche, and aimed for a tiny readership), and on the whole that friend was right: 99 per cent of the books sent out for review just vanish.

They are busy people, literary editors. They have little time to actually look at what’s in front of them. I wrote a personal note to one of the broadsheet literary editors, because I used to work with him and there was a time when we talked about the lunacies of the publishing world. I got a friendly reply: he was pleased to note that I ‘have some really good titles forthcoming’ (we have not announced any forthcoming titles) and he would make sure that ‘our poetry editor knows all about CBe' (none of the books is poetry).

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