Earlier this month The Thief Maker was reviewed by Floyd M. Orr, an author of several non-fiction titles who reviews exclusively books published by iUniverse on his blog under the penname, Tabitha. Orr’s reviews are of special note for authors who have used iUniverse’s self-publishing services as he thoughtfully critiques not only the content and quality of the writing, but also the quality of the physical book–i.e. the cover design, interior layout, and how well the book was edited and/or proofread. In bold fashion, Orr passes judgment on both the author and the publisher. Currently iUniverse is the largest and most well known provider of POD (print-on-demand) self-publishing services in the U.S.
Ultimately the positive review Orr provided for my novel The Thief Maker was yet another vindication that I have not been wasting my time. Orr’s review deserves special notice, however, as he explored two aspects that other reviewers have not particularly focused on and warrant some discussion:
1. The genre of The Thief Maker is hard to define–it’s part mystery, part thriller, part whodunit, part psychological melodrama, but follows none of the rules of any one genre. As other reviews have pointed out, the plot is extremely complex. The novel is difficult to categorize and impossible to sum up in a quick sound bite for marketing. Suffice it to say, the marketing of the novel has been an uphill battle, and this is why I have relied so heavily on my grassroots, word-of-mouth campaign. Sales have been slow but very steady, and I attribute this partly to the averaging of one positive to rave review per month since January of 2007. Because I am relying almost entirely on this type of word-of-mouth, I have fallen short of my sales goals up to this point. This ends up being a case of “seeing is believing.” The only way to understand what the book is about is to read it…and thankfully, so far, most people (critics, peers, friends, and family) who have read it have had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. Still, I need more support to get the word out to meet my sales goals.
2. Despite the fact I paid extra for editorial and proofreading services from iUniverse, there are still a number of typographical errors in the book. This is the main reason I feel there is such a stigma on self-publishing: no matter how thoroughly the book is polished, there will always be the impression that there is a lack of professionalism inherent in self-published books that turns off a large segment of the reading population. Of course, I wasn’t entirely displeased with the services iUniverse provided. To clarify: the editorial review iUniverse provided was thoughtful, professional, thorough and contained excellent, succinct advice on how to improve certain sections of the novel, while their proofreading services were, well, not so great. Comparatively speaking, iUniverse is still tops amongst similar publishers thanks to the worldwide distribution they provide through Amazon.com and their partner Barnes & Noble, the non-exclusivity of their author contracts, and the breadth of services they provide. I know this from extensive research and personal experience–my previous novel, An Accidental House, was published by their rival Xlibris. However, authors beware: do your homework and know exactly what you are paying for. Don’t expect any more or any less than what the publisher expressly spells out for you. Though I wouldn’t trade the learning experience for anything in the world, and self-publishing is a wonderful and viable option for many writers…when all is said and done, if iUniverse represents the best of what self-publishing has to offer, then I hope I never have to self-publish again and will do everything in my power not to have to do so.
*For an earlier diatribe on my follies in self-publishing and my advice to writers, see below:
iUniverse authors will also be happy to find that Floyd M. Orr posts the reviews not just on his blog, but also on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s site. The three posted reviews are unique and all have a slightly different twist. I personally appreciated the extent to which Orr strived to provide fun taglines to use in marketing and promotions and some of the comparisons made, which ranged from very flattering (comparing my work to Stephen King and popular television programs like CSI), to off-the-wall (comparing the book to Bonfire of the Vanities).
In the review Orr posted on Amazon.com he proclaimed, “The Thief Maker is a spider’s web of morality play, psychodrama, and CSI-style plot twists. Ricocheting back and forth like a boomerang on acid through bouncing timeframes and neurotic characters, the plotline whips the reader like the second-place horse in a race with a million-dollar purse…the satisfaction received in return from such an original storyline is relentless.”
On his blog Orr heralded, “D. H. Schleicher should be crowned the new King of the Plot Twists.”
*For the full review visit:
The Thief Maker is on the shelves at Philadelphia and South Jersey area Barnes & Noble stores and available for purchase worldwide through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.