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September 30, 2008


Debra Hamel

I've reviewed almost 400 books on my blog in the last five years, a handful of them self-published novels. In my experience they haven't been worth the time, and I've wound up finishing and reviewing them more out of a sense of duty than interest. More interestingly, the only time I've received any negative feedback about a review was with some of these self-published books. A couple of the authors have seemed very surprised that their books weren't up to snuff and annoyed with me for pointing out problems. That is, their behavior has not been professional--just like their writing is not professional. So, I rather doubt I'll quickly jump to read anything self-published again.


Do you recall which self-published titles you reviewed? Were they worth it?

Cameron Hughes

Self-published novels more than likely suck and there's a reason they went the self-published route. There are too many good real published novels to read and give ink to.

David J. Montgomery

One of the books I definitely liked -- it was a comic noir about the mafia by Brian Wiprud -- and it was subsequently published by Bantam Dell.

The other was by a guy named Doug Cummings (who is now published by Five Star). I liked the book, although it could have benefited from more editing.

This was 5 or 6 years ago, so my memory has faded...

Rodney P. McManus

I'd like to hear Stacey Cochran's take on this. He has been a champion of the self-published author for years and worked very hard to prove he and others like him are the literary equal of the Connellys and Eislers and Sandfords, which they are!!!

Please give us your two cents Stacey!

Doug Riddle

The literary equals of the Connellys and Eislers and Sandfords don't have to self-publish. There are agents and editors that would kill to find the next, Connelly, Eisler or Sandford.

Clea Simon

I know there are exceptions, but I'm with you David. It's like blogs and respectable newspapers. Editors, agents, gatekeepers, whatever you call them may not be a guarantee of quality, but they do serve a purpose.

sorry, folks.


I've read some of Cochran. Or rather, I've tried to. It's absurd to compare him to Connelly or Eisler or even a hack like J.A. Konrath. His writing is cliche-ridden, stiff and dull ("he worked the weed-whacker like nobody's business.") There's a very good reason he hasn't been published. His work isn't up to professional standards just like most self-published authors.

David J. Montgomery

The purpose of this post is not to criticize the work of any particular author, self-published or otherwise. So let's please keep the topic more generally focused.


I won't mention specific names but I tried a couple of those books I got off Amazon. (I wasn't aware they were selfpublished.) I couldn't believe how bad they were. i wish I could have got my money back.

Barney Clonfelder

I don't like you and I don't your blog!

You young folks think you know it all. Well, let me tell you, you don't much of anything!

These blogs get me so angry!


Yeah, seems like most self-published fiction isn't worth a hill of beans. But there has been a few success stories, like Terry Woods.


Here is my message.

Brian Kavanagh

The point about self published books is well taken, but it seems that critics are also not prepared to review Print On Demand books published by small press publishers. I speak for the care and concern that BeWrite Books take in the editing and preparation by detailed consultation with the writer, which results in a selection of quality books. And with the increase of POD books, in Australia Angus & Robertson book seller chain have just installed the Espresso machines for POD, this way of producing books is undeniable. Small press publishers aim for quality and don't subscribe to the 'two week wonders' that the large publishers have succumbed to. Also, I really question the editing abilities of large publishers. So many books seem to me to be rushed into print with little preparation.

Janet Reid

Brian, you're mentioning POD as though a reviewer would know what kind of technology is used to print a book. POD is a way to print books, not a way to publish them. Even very large publishers use POD technology to print books these days (the recent Nobel laureates; the Sarah Palin reprint).

Self publishing is not POD. Small press publishing is also not the same as POD. People who self publish can use webfeed printing, as do many small publishers.

How a book is printed is not the same as how it's published.

(end of soapbox stint!)

David J. Montgomery

Following up on what Janet wrote -- sorry, Brian, I missed your comment initially -- some publications are reluctant to review books that are exclusively available via POD. There is, apparently, still a substantial percentage of newspaper readers who only get books via libraries and B&M bookstores. And thus some editors shy away from POD books.

As for small press books... I think virtually every publication reviews quality small press publications. I don't really see that being a significant issue.


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David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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