The Right Direction

Since BiblioBuffet opened its doors on January 8, 2006, our policy for considering books for review has pretty much stayed the same. We consider trade books, that is, books from commercial or university presses in all genres except  books that are not self-published or vanity-published, in all genres except business, self-help, true crime, New Age and romance. Each one has its reasons for being on our “no” list.

More important, we do not review self-published or vanity-published books. The reason is that finding a book worth reviewing is like finding that needle in the haystack, and digging through mountains of dreck in search of the rare gem is not worth our time.

It still isn’t for the most part, but technological changes have wrought changes in industry practices. Recently, there have been a few literary agencies who have moved in directions from author representation to publishing. They don’t plan to compete with the publishing houses, but instead are moving to re-issue their clients’ backlists. In addition, some authors, including our own Carl Rollyson and Lev Raphael, are publishing new editions, both print and e-books, of their own works now that they have the rights back.

BiblioBuffet would not consider books like this to be self-published, though they technically are in their new editions. These books have been through what is termed the editorial gatekeeping process, that is, they were selected by a commercial trade publisher who believed in the book enough to put money, time, and editorial/design/sales/marketing/publicity talent behind it. What is being re-issued is not a raw book that only an author’s mother could love, but one that was successfully created for and marketed to the reading public.

We also have, thanks to Pete Croatto, our sports book reviewer, another aspect to consider—self-published books that are that rare gem. Belue to Scott! is one of them. It was written by Robbie Burns, a man with the passion for the team he wrote about but also with a professional writing background on sports and sports history. It made him uniquely qualified to write a self-published “gem.”

Those two reasons are why Nicki and I have been talking again about revising our “Submit Books for Review” guidelines, and this time it is going to happen. But we don’t want to open BiblioBuffet’s doors to everyone; we will continue to hold to our high standards for the writing we present and the books we talk about.

The revised guidelines will be some time within the next two weeks. Though they are still be written and edited, they will include the following so that we know the writers understands the process of writing a good book:

  • Was there an editor? If so, who? What else have they edited?
  • Has the author published anything else, either in print or online in a professional capacity? (Personal blogs don’t count.)
  • Is the book blurbed by anyone recognizable?

These are not the only considerations but they will be a part. And while we haven’t yet finalized the wording, we do know that we must open ourselves to these new changes that have arrived because our mission statement—Writing Worth Reading, Reading Worth Writing About—does not say, imply, or infer anything less than that we at BiblioBuffet want to show you a few of the best books out there. We cannot do that unless we utilize the best of the industry changes. Or as Nicki phrased it, since “the gatekeepers are gone from the kingdom, it probably means we need to step in their place.”

We’ve seen the new direction, and we are ready for what it will bring.

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